If you’re reading this right now, you’re intrigued. I can almost hear your stream of consciousness upon reading the title of this recipe, which probably sounded something like this: Bacon… mmm, I love bacon… wait, blueberry?? Hrmm, well that might be an interesting combination… and… what?! GINGER?!
But let me assure you: the combination just works, and beautifully, at that. I don’t think there’s an adequate word in the human language to describe the explosion of flavor that happens when you pop one of these into your mouth. The ingredients are definitely Asian-inspired, but they create this intense collision that takes your taste buds to a faraway exotic place that can’t really be named. Sometimes, you just have to appreciate the beauty of strangeness!
Clear as day, I remember the first time I ever tried to cook with ginger. I read the recipe: “One thumb-sized piece of ginger”. I put on the immediate mental breaks. What did that even mean?? How big was the person’s thumb who wrote it? Because mine is surely smaller; I’m a very tiny person. Was it just the top of the thumb, or the whole thing from nail to joint? I remember this particular instruction feeling very vague and overwhelming, especially for someone who was very new to the kitchen. But I just went with it; I used my gut instinct. And guess what? Everything turned out just fine. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust that tickle in the back of mind, as it’s almost always better than second guessing myself “because the recipe says so”. I’ve learned to love cooking by feel.
But for my wonderful readers, who may have otherwise found themselves in the same predicament while reading this recipe… I present you with a visual guide to approximately what a “thumb-sized piece” of ginger is supposed to look like, with my chunky little thumb for reference. Obviously, my thumb isn’t the same size as yours, but at least now you have an idea. :)
These meatballs are, like all of my other recipes, very simple to make. There’s just a little bit of prep work that needs to be done ahead of time, and then you just mix, roll, and bake!
First, set your oven to pre-heat to 375 degrees F. Then you’ll need to mince up the shallots, cilantro, and ginger. And ginger is a pain in the butt to cut sometimes; it’s so dang fibrous! But my handy-dandy grater plate (which I use for garlic all the time, too) came to the rescue! I can honestly admit that it is one of my most-often used tools in the kitchen, because it’s so fast and easy. It frees me from having to mince garlic or ginger with a knife (heaven forbid, haha), or getting my food processor dirty just for one or two little cloves. Best time-saving investment ever!
Once you’ve got everything minced up, put it all into a large bowl.
You’ll also want to add your cup of blueberries to a food processor and give it several good whirls, just to help burst open the blueberries a little. You’re certainly welcome to try the recipe with whole blueberries, but I really feel like this step helps the meatballs hold their shape a little better. After all, these aren’t giant pasta meatballs, so any particularly large, honkin’ blueberries could possibly make the meatballs more fragile than they normally are.
Whatever you decide, add the blueberries to the bowl with the roots and herbs when you’re done!
I re-seasoned my cast iron pans the other night, so I was excited to use one to help my lil’ pork slices crisp up really well! I had the bacon cooking while I intermittently minced up my root veggies, but you can also cook it ahead of time.
Once the bacon is cooked, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then crumble it over the bowl of berries, roots, and herbs. Then you just add the ground beef, balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper (reduce amount or omit if you don’t like spiciness, although it’s only a slight kick) and a little salt and pepper… and then it’s time to form your meatballs! This recipe makes enough for 18 small ones, about an inch in diameter each.
Arrange them on your foil-lined and pre-greased baking sheet, then bake for 15 to 18 minutes. I like to set my timer for about 8 minutes, so that I remember to rotate the baking sheet about halfway through cooking. Then I reset the timer for the remaining amount of time. They should be done when they’re just a little browned.
Serve them hot out of the oven, and then store extras in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. They also work as an easy and portable lunch to bring to work, or a quick protein pick-me-up at home. And they’re sure to be a hit as an appetizer for a dinner party or potluck get-together, too!
Share your thoughts below… I’m so excited to know what you think of this recipe!
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, for greasing
- 3 to 4 slices bacon (depending on thickness of cut)
- ½ thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- ½ medium shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp minced cilantro
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 lb ground beef
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Melt the coconut oil, and brush it onto the foil.
- In a medium size skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon until nice and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel on a plate when finished, and set aside.
- Mince the ginger, shallot, and cilantro; add all three to a large mixing bowl.
- Put the blueberries in a mini food processor/chopper and pulse 5 to 8 times in 1 second bursts, just enough to break open the blueberries a bit. Add the chopped blueberries to the mixing bowl.
- Finally, add the ground meat, crushed red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon slices with your fingers over the top of all the other ingredients in the bowl.
- Thoroughly mix everything together with your fingers, but do not densely pack the meat or otherwise overwork it.
- Form 18 small meatballs with your hands (if they’re too big, they won’t cook in the allotted time – just break apart some of the bigger ones if you come up short). Arrange them on the baking sheet as you go.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. At the halfway point (somewhere around 8 minutes), rotate the tray in the oven to help the meatballs cook more evenly.
- Remove from oven, and serve immediately!
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