Hidden Liver Meatballs with Red Wine Tomato Sauce over Bone Broth Parmesan Polenta

The truth is: I have always struggled to eat liver… Until now!

These Hidden Liver Meatballs are BANGIN’! The addition of chicken livers actually enhances the flavor of the ground beef. They taste meatier and are totally succulent. Along with onion, garlic, dried basil, and dried oregano, sumac and pimento stuffed green olives brighten up the flavors and add dimension. 

You can stop there and serve these Hidden Liver Meatballs with anything your heart desires, or go all the way and serve them over Bone Broth Parmesan Polenta topped with Red Wine Tomato Sauce.

The Red Wine Tomato Sauce is made with the last of the season tomatoes. I used some lovely heirloom ones. Use any kind with flavor that you like – the sweeter the better. It all starts with a mirepoix, which is cooked down and then deglazed with a half a cup of red wine. Then add 2 pounds of tomatoes and some other goodies. Bringing the sauce to a boil after adding the tomatoes is key to producing a thick sauce without extra liquid. 

The Bone Broth Parmesan Polenta is one of my favorite recipes I have been making for years! It is a great way to get more collagen into your diet via bone broth, however you can sub any stock or broth you have on hand. I love my polenta creamy and cheesy – this means a nice amount of butter and heavy cream and about an ounce of cheese per serving. Parmesan fits this dish best, but you can use this bone broth polenta recipe as a base for really anything and change up the cheese depending on what you’re serving it with. I have also made a vegan version with veggie broth and coconut cream that is totally savory without a wiff of coconut flavor to go with all the vegan dishes of your dreams 😋. So, feel free to mix it up using the same ratio and process. 

Make life easy and meal prep this to have dinner on the table for days to come. The sauce and meat balls can be made ahead. Uncooked meatballs will last up to 2 days in the fridge, and the sauce will last a week. Both can be frozen for longer term storage.


Hidden Liver Meatballs with Red Wine Tomato Sauce over Bone Broth Parmesan Polenta

Servings: 1

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Hidden Liver Meatballs (below)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of Red Wine Tomato Sauce (below)
  • 1/4 cup of medium grind cornmeal
  • 1 cup of bone broth (I used homemade beef bone broth)
  • 1 tbsp. of heavy whipping cream (or half and half, or milk, or coconut milk/cream)
  • 1/2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1/2-1 ounce of parmesan cheese

How-to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring 1 cup of bone broth to a boil.
  3. Working with both hands, slowly pour 1/4 cup of medium grind cornmeal into boiling bone broth while stirring. This prevents lumps from forming. 
  4. Add a nice pinch of salt and reduce heat to low.
  5. Maintain a low simmer on the polenta, and stir every 1-2 minutes to prevent sticking. 
  6. Start a 30 minute timer.
  7. While polenta is cooking, heat a skillet on high heat for 2 minutes or until very hot. 
  8. Brown 3-4 meatballs on skillet. Try to brown all sides (about 1 minute per side).
  9. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup of red wine tomato sauce into an oven safe pan with low sides (frying pan not sauce pan). Use a small pan for one serving and a larger pan for more servings. Sauce should roughly reach the edges of pan to prevent drying out. 
  10. When balls are browned, set them in the pan with tomato sauce and place in the preheated oven. The meatballs and tomato sauce take about 25 minutes to cook. 
  11. Check the pan with meatballs half way through and stir tomato sauce. Add a tablespoon of water if sauce is starting to dry out. 
  12. When there is 5 minutes left, polenta should be coming together and looking thick like mashed potatoes. Add butter and heavy cream. Stir to incorporate. Add shredded parmesan cheese and mix until melted. Taste and add salt as needed. 
  13. When polenta is done, it should be very viscous. You can tell because when you stir it is very slow to spread back out into the pan. There should not be any remaining liquid.
  14. To plate, add polenta first, then top with meatballs. Top meatballs with sauce. Optionally, add parsley and more shredded parmesan cheese. 

Notes:

  • If meatballs are bigger that 2tbsp. per ball in size, adjust cooking time. 
  • The goal is to have the polenta and meatballs done at the same time, but this can be tricky. If meatballs are cooking faster than the polenta, turn up the heat and continue process as normal. If polenta finishes before meatballs, add water or broth a table spoon or two at a time and keep on low heat. It will keep like this for a while. In this way, the meal is forgiving! 

Red Wine Tomato Sauce

Servings: 3 cups

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of tomatoes (I used some purpley-red heirloom ones)
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced 
  • 1 cup of yellow onion, diced
  • 4 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 ounces of red wine (use one you like, I used cab)
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1.5 tsp. of dried basil
  • 1 tsp. of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. of sugar (optional)
  • salt and pepper

How-to:

  1. Start with the mirepoix. Add 2 tbsp. of butter, and diced celery, carrot, and onion to a pan. Cook on medium-low until onions, celery, and carrots are tender and turning lightly golden in color, about 8-10 minutes. Do not allow to brown, because it will add bitterness.  
  2. Add minced garlic cloves to mirepoix and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. 
  3. Turn the heat up to medium high and pour in half a cup of wine. deglaze pan by scraping the bottom. Allow wine to reduce by half, 5 minutes or so. 
  4. Deseed and chop tomatoes. When wine is reduced by half, pour in chopped tomatoes. Add tomato paste, oregano, basil, and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.
  5. Maintain a slow simmer and allow tomato sauce to cook, uncovered, for 2 hours. Stir every so often to prevent any sticking and burning. 
  6. Add salt to taste. Optionally, add sugar to increase the sweetness of the sauce. 
  7. Pour into jars and allow to cool before putting into the fridge or freezer. Sauce will keep for one week in the fridge or many weeks in the freezer. 

Hidden Liver Meatballs with Olives and Sumac

Servings: makes 25 meatballs

Time: 10 to make, 30 min-1 hour of resting, plus 1 hour of freezing time (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of grass-fed ground beef (I used 80/20)
  • 1/2 pound of organic chicken livers
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup of dried whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. of dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. of dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp. of sumac
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup of pimento green olives, chopped

How-to:

  1. Clean the chicken livers by cutting off any veins or thick, white tissue. There are a lot of good videos on Youtube if you are unsure of how to do it. Rinse cleaned livers and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Do not blend into a purée. You should have chunks about the size of the diced onion. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients including the pulsed livers from step 1. Mix with hands until well combined. Be careful not to over mix, which will make them tough. 
  3. The bread crumbs will help absorb the extra liquid from the pulsed livers. Allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour so the breadcrumbs can absorb this moisture. 
  4. Shape the balls using about 2 tbsp. of meat mixture per ball. Roll them between your hands and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  5. Place baking sheet in the freezer. Allow to freeze for one hour. Then remove each ball and place in a plastic bag or other storage item of choice. Freezing on the parchment paper for just an hour on the pan keeps the balls from sticking together in the freezer, so you can pull them out as needed!

Bone Broth Parmesan Polenta

Servings: 1

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of cornmeal (medium grind)
  • 1 cup of bone broth (I used homemade beef bone broth)
  • 1 tbsp. of heavy whipping cream (or half and half, or milk, or coconut milk/cream)
  • 1/2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1/2-1 ounce of parmesan cheese
  • salt

How-to:

  1. Bring 1 cup of bone broth to a boil.
  2. Working with both hands, slowly pour 1/4 cup of medium grind cornmeal into boiling bone broth while stirring. This prevents lumps from forming. 
  3. Add a nice pinch of salt and reduce heat to low.
  4. Maintain a low simmer on the polenta, and stir every 1-2 minutes to prevent sticking. 
  5. Cook until liquid is absorbed and polenta is thick and viscous like mashed potatoes, about 30 minutes. 

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