I do have a lot of friends who don’t cook and don’t really understand why I like pottering around in the kitchen. I take great delight in chopping onions and garlic…there is something about the rhythm of chopping and dicing that is really soothing. I’m not as fast a chopper as those guys on Iron Chef, but I do wield a mean chef’s knife.
The great thing about home cooking is that it is really affordable and you save a lot on manpower costs! Low carb eating does cost more as it skips cheap processed food and cheap carbs like rice and pasta. But I like to think of low carb food as being more nutritionally intense and of greater intrinsic value (why eat empty calories, right?). So when cooking for the family I do buy cheaper cuts of meat like chuck or brisket for braising; and the family consumes eggs by the tray! I love that zucchini is really affordable in Singapore and making “zoodles” or zucchini noodles is easy as long as you have a spiralizer.
My freezer is usually pretty full and one of the items I usually keep is ground beef. This allows me to whip up bolognese sauces and meat loaves any time I have a fancy. I was actually going to make lasagna for Sunday dinner when I had a sudden urge to have meatballs instead. But recently I stumbled across a recipe for Big Italian meatballs and I decided to try to make a low carb version of this for dinner.
Most meatball recipes have breadcrumbs in it to soften the texture of the meatball. To cut the carbohydrate count I used some leftover low carb bread and almond flour; if I didn’t have low carb bread in the house I would probably just have increased the amount of almond flour in the meatball mix. And of course the secret to great meatballs is injecting flavour, like onion and garlic powder. I have some mushroom powder as well (a Japanese powder) that also adds an umami punch.
The fun part of this recipe is of course making the giant meatball and plonking it in the oven. I was a little nervous about not getting a raw center to the giant ball of meat and I did use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat came up to at least 70 deg C (160 deg F). Anyway kid#2 was giggling when she saw the super giant meatball cooking away in the oven. The silly song kept running through my head “on top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed”…that would never happen with this big Momma!
The meatball looked like a meteorite that landed on a le Creuset pan!
Anyway this is the kind of dish that gives a huge visual impact, so after making the meatball and marinara sauce, I quickly sautéed some zoodles and arranged it around the big momma meatball to make it look like an ostrich egg in a nest. I thought it looked rather pretty in the end and it was an instagrammable food picture!
Giant Low Carb Meatball
- 500g minced topside
- 1 slice low carb bread
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 3/4 cup grated grana padano or Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp mushroom powder (optional)
Marinara sauce (adapted from NYTimes recipe)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 7 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 2 sprigs of basil leaves
- 1 scoop ricotta cheese
- 5-6 basil leaves, finely sliced
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
- With a food processor, finely chop the bread and onions.
- Place the bread crumbs, onions, garlic, almond meal, minced beef, parsley, grana padano cheese, beaten eggs, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and mushroom powder and mix well with your hands, and form into a large ball.
- Put the meatball onto a large pan or dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet and sauté the garlic slices. When just starting to brown, add the diced tomatoes and the basil.
- Simmer for about 10-15 minutes over low flame.
- When the meatball is done, remove from the oven and ladle the marinara sauce over the meatball, covering it well.
- Put back into the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
- When done, top the meatball with a scoop of ricotta. Sprinkle the strips of basil over the dish. Serve hot with some zucchini noodles or low carb bread on the side.