Glazed Orange & Ginger Meatballs

Makes 32; serves 4-5
(No gluten, dairy, legumes or nightshades)

New Zealand supermarket shoppers are fortunate to be able to purchase grass-fed, free range venison without antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones. Farm-raised venison has a mild flavour with many cuts – such as medallions and stir-fry – requiring only a few minutes of cooking. Or make the meatballs using ground lamb. New Zealand lamb is almost all pasture-fed.

Venison has much less waste than other types of meat. It has less fat than skinless chicken and is higher in iron than beef and lamb. Women, children and the elderly are especially prone to low iron levels. This mineral is critical for vitality and mental function. Venison is also a top source of zinc (for immunity; and new growth such as of skin, hair and nails) and B12 (for nerve health and energetic red blood cells). Iron, zinc and B12 are far better absorbed from animal than plant sources – with up to 3 times the efficiency. Food quality is highly significant, though possibly even more pertinent is how effectively you break down and extract nutrients from that food.

This dish is easy and popular for a family dinner or elegant enough for entertaining. Serve with rice and salad, or mixed steamed greens and a pumpkin mash.

Or make the balls smaller and serve as finger food. Use a slice of cucumber or courgette as a base; top with a glazed meatball; add a small twist of pink pickled ginger and skewer with a toothpick. Or pat the mixture into mushroom caps, Fan Grill, sprinkle with chopped parsley and accompany with kumara wedges and salad. This recipe is dairy–free and can be gluten-free with the use of gluten-free breadcrumbs; tamari (wheat-free soy sauce); maize cornflour rather than wheaten cornflour; and marmalade without glucose (which can be made from wheat or other starches). For more on Gluten see my website TIPS pages.

500 g ground venison or lamb
½ cup dry gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 large free range egg
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped (has cane sugar)
or 5 cm peeled chopped gingerroot + 3 Tbsp marmalade*
2 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
coarsely grated peel of one large orange
1 tsp sea salt with kelp*
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil*

100 ml orange juice (from 1 – 1½ oranges)
¼ cup orange marmalade*, such as St Dalfour (no wheat, cane sugar or
artificial additives)
2 Tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce*, such as Ceres tamari (no wheat or
artificial additives)
1 tsp maize cornflour*

Take 2 tsp of the chopped spring onion and 1 tsp of the grated orange peel. Combine, cover and reserve as a garnish.

In a bowl combine the venison, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, garlic, ginger, peel and salt. Or this can be done briefly in a food processor just until mixed – individual colours and textures should remain.

Using a tablespoon at a time, form mixture into about 32 three cm balls. These can be cooked immediately or chilled until ready. Place oil in an electric or large cast iron frypan. Fry the balls over low-medium heat about 5 minutes on each side until lightly browned. If entertaining, this can be made ahead and reheated as below.

Meanwhile prepare the glaze. Combine the juice, marmalade and soy sauce. Just before cooking, use a fork to beat in the cornflour until smooth. Add the mixture to the meatballs and stir to coat thoroughly. Cook about 7 minutes until thick and glossy. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with reserved garnish.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Cornflour (US cornstarch): “Maize cornflour” (as labelled; in supermarkets) is gluten-free unlike “wheaten cornflour”. If corn is not tolerated then use arrowroot (from a tropical root; in supermarkets).

• Jam/Marmalade: Buy jam made from fruit with fruit juice only as a sweetener, and no artificial additives. The St Dalfour brand is available in supermarkets.

• Nightshades: is another name for the botanical solanaceae family of potato, tomato, peppers and eggplant. Some people cannot breakdown its solanine alkaloid (related to nicotine) affecting calcium metabolism, nerves, bones and joints (TIPS: Aches and Pains). To determine sensitivity obtain an allergy test from this office.

• Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.

• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Malcolm Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Other chemicals to prevent clumping and bleach may be added to table salt.

• Soy sauce: can be a fake, unfermented chemical concoction of caramel colouring, artificial additives, wheat and cheap salt. True soy sauce contains nothing artificial and is naturally brewed for two or more years. It is made by fermenting soybeans with the help of a healthful mould (similar to making yoghurt or cheese); roasted grain – usually wheat or barley – for flavour and fermentation, plus salt. ‘Shoyu’ is the Japanese word for true fermented soy sauce. ‘Tamari’ describes naturally brewed soy sauce which does not contain wheat or other grain. In the supermarket look for organic Ceres brand, or plain only Kikkoman (their other varieties usually contain artificial additives including MSG: TIPS).

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