I have to admit that growing up, I was never a big fan of meatballs. A few months ago, I found myself getting bored with my usual ground meat go-to meals. With a freezer full of meat, there was only one thing to do and that was to find more ways to cook great tasting meals with what was on hand. I am not a huge fan of pasta or Italian-inspired dishes, but I LOVE Tomato sauce. So, naturally, I set out for a paleo-friendly, comforting dish that could marry the two, ground meat + tomato sauce = a full heart & a full belly.
This meatball recipe is super simple. You can either cook these up in the oven or in the crockpot for an easy cleanup. I have doubled the batch for meal prep and found that this dish is as good on day five as it is fresh off the heat. I think this recipe pairs best with spaghetti squash or roasted broccoli (or a combination of the two!)
Simple Crockpot Meatballs
- 1 pound ground elk meat 85%/15% fat, or other red meat of your choosing
- 1 egg
- 1 TB ground flaxmeal
- A pinch of salt and pepper each
- 1 tsp each – minced onion, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. I have found that the 85/15 protein-to-fat ratio works best. However, if you have a leaner meat then you may find it helpful to add another egg and possibly add extra flaxmeal at the end to make sure your meat binds well. Roll into 1-inch size balls. Tip: I like to use a cookie scooper to achieve consistency. Place the meatballs in a non-stick glass dish spacing them a finger’s width apart, if cooking in the oven. Or, prep the bottom of your crockpot with cooking spray and then place the meatballs directly on the bottom, spaced apart.
Tomato Sauce Ingredients
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1/2 diced onion
- 2 cups diced mushrooms
- 5 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 cups fresh, diced tomato or 1 can diced tomato
- 1 tsp each – oregano, onion powder, garlic powder
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, destemmed
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2 TB diced fresh basil
Stovetop: Saute garlic and onion with 1 TB olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Once softened, add remaining ingredients and let raise to a boil. Turn down on low and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Crockpot: Place all tomato sauce ingredients in crockpot (overtop meatballs) and stir gently to avoid breaking up the meatballs. Let all cook on low for approximately 4.5 hours.
Serve over roasted broccoli, shredded spaghetti squash or both for an easy, Italian-inspired dinner.