Spaghetti & meatballs, burgers with all the fixins, Mama’s meatloaf with bacon… my family really loves these meals. But sometimes I don’t have time – or all the ingredients to make them fully. No problem – we can make a quick variation on the above by using similar ingredients. The result is usually the same – I hear lots of ‘mmmmm!’s around the table.
Start with ground meat. Really, you can use anything – chicken, turkey, pork, beef – even lamb. Remember that buying meat from a local source – pasture-raised is best.
Next, think of something to use as a filler. This is nice because you can make your meat stretch this way, as well as absorbing the flavor of your other add-ins. Stale bread (tossed in a food processor with a bit of salt and herbs), leftover rice, cooked lentils or beans are all good options.
Next, focus on flavor. I almost always use sauteed onion and garlic. Sometimes – if I’m in a rush -just some garlic powder/salt and dried herbs. Fresh parsley, basil, rosemary – whatever you like or have in the fridge. It’s fun! Don’t forget salt and pepper. I’m also a fan of adding some ‘umami’ ingredients (read more on that here) – some shredded parmesan cheese, a quick squirt of mustard, splash of soy sauce – even a little squirt of Sriracha sauce will add flavor without the kids noticing.
Now – here’s when you get to sneak in some superfoods. With all of that flavor you just added – and the wonderful texture of the meat – why not chop up some greens like kale or swiss chard as an add-in? You can chop them reeeeally fine if your kids are picky about texture – buzz them in the food processor and then add them – they’ll hardly notice. Our family likes the texture of kale – so we don’t chop them so finely. The outsides of the patties get crispy where the kale is at – yum!
Our favorite kale variety: Italian Tuscan Kale (also called Lacinato Kale)
Last – if it’s needed, you can add an egg to bind it together. You really only need this if your mixture is on the dry side.
I like to mix all of these ingredients in my standing mixer – then spoon out enough for patties and put them directly into the skillet to cook. We coat our cast iron lightly with grapeseed oil.
These patties were made with ground chicken, leftover rice & lentils, chopped kale and herbs – oregano and fennel seed. (a squirt of mustard went into the patties for flavor)
These only take a few minutes on each side to cook through – just cut one open to be sure. You can serve yours on a bun, or wrapped in lettuce – but we like them as they are – with mustard on the side.