Slow Cooker Pork Meatballs In Garlic and Almond Sauce

These are a perfect dinner solution if you’re in the mood for using your slow cooker (crock pot), and particularly when it seems like Old Man Winter is refusing to let go and you want a hearty, comfort food experience without much guilt. Actually, at any time of the year it’s a fun recipe, with some prep time involved and a cooking time of three to four hours. You’ll need a food processor and of course, a slow cooker. I stumbled across this recipe recently in one of those recipe booklets you find in the grocery aisle called Skinny Slow Cooker Recipes.

This is a meal I’ll enjoy making throughout the year when I’m in the mood for meatballs. The recipe makes 24 meatballs, with a serving size of four meatballs that accounts for a total of 230 calories and 21 grams of protein. While you might be tempted to serve these meatballs with rice or mashed potatoes, I strongly recommend a healthier and just as pleasing alternative: garlic cauliflower mash, which you can find the recipe for on this site!

 

These are the primary ingredients you'll need to make this  meatball recipe.
These are the primary ingredients you’ll need to make this meatball recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup blanched whole almonds (I used  blanched slivered almonds as I was unable to find whole almonds, so go with what you can find.)

1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup roasted red pepper (I found these in the frozen vegetable section at my grocery store.)

4 tsp. minced garlic, divided

1 tsp. salt, divided

1/2 tsp. crushed saffron threads, optional (If you have these already in your pantry and want to use them, go ahead; As saffron is insanely expensive, I would recommend skipping this ingredient. I used it once in preparing this recipe and then a second time without it and noticed no difference. I am not using it in this demonstration.)

1 cup bread crumbs, divided

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 lb. extra lean ground pork

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 Tbs. minced fresh Italian parsley

Nonstick cooking spray (like Pam)

Directions:

We’re starting with the sauce. Place the 1/2 cup of blanched almonds in your food processor and pulse until finely ground.

If you can't find blanched whole almonds, do what I did and buy blanched slivered almonds.
If you can’t find blanched whole almonds, do what I did and buy blanched slivered almonds.
Here's half a cup of the almonds we need.
Here’s half a cup of the almonds we need.
Into the processor the almonds go and...
Into the processor the almonds go and…
...this is what we end up with after pulsing.
…this is what we end up with after pulsing.

Add the chicken broth, red pepper, 2 tsp. of garlic and 1/4 tsp. of salt into the processor (and saffron if you so desire), and process until smooth.

Our reduced-sodium chicken broth.
Our reduced-sodium chicken broth.
The chicken broth joining the pulsed almonds.
The chicken broth added to the pulsed almonds.

 

For convenience sake, I purchased frozen diced red bell peppers to use in this recipe.
For convenience sake, I purchased frozen diced roasted red bell peppers to use in this recipe.
One third of a cup of diced roasted red pepper.
One third of a cup of diced roasted red pepper.
Into the processor to join the broth and pulsed almonds goes the diced red bell pepper.
Into the processor to join the broth and pulsed almonds goes the diced red bell pepper.
Getting the peeled garlic ready to be minced (well, grated in my kitchen).
Getting the peeled garlic ready to be minced (well, grated in my kitchen).
Adding the first of two tsp. of minced garlic into the processor.
Adding the first of two tsp. of minced garlic into the processor.
We follow the garlic with 1/2 tsp. of salt.
We follow the garlic with 1/2 tsp. of salt.
Now it's time to process these ingredients on our way to making the sauce.
Now it’s time to process these ingredients on our way to making the sauce.
After processing until smooth, we are almost done with the sauce.
After processing until smooth, we are almost done with the sauce.

Stir in one quarter cup of the bread crumbs into the processed mixture (first take out the blade). Transfer finished sauce into the slow cooker.

Portioning out one quarter of a cup of the bread crumbs that will be stirred into the mixture.
Portioning out one quarter of a cup of the bread crumbs that will be stirred into the mixture.
Introducing one quarter cup of bread crumbs into garlic and almond mixture.
Introducing one quarter cup of bread crumbs into garlic and almond mixture.
Give the bread crumbs a good stir.
Give the bread crumbs a good stir.
Time to pour the almond and garlic sauce into the slow cooker.
Time to pour the garlic and almond sauce into the slow cooker.
The sauce, eagerly awaiting the meatballs.
The sauce, eagerly awaiting the meatballs.

Now that the sauce is done, we turn our attention to making the pork meatballs.

Place the remaining 3/4 of a cup of bread crumbs in a large bowl. Pour the 1/4 cup of white wine over the bread crumbs.

This time we'll need 3/4 of a cup of bread crumbs to help form the meatballs.
This time we’ll need 3/4 of a cup of bread crumbs to help form the meatballs.
We start with the bread crumbs in a large bowl.
We start with the bread crumbs in a large bowl.
Measure out one quarter of a cup of dry white wine.
Measure out one quarter of a cup of dry white wine.
Pouring the wine onto the bread crumbs.
Pouring the wine onto the bread crumbs.

Add the pork, onion, parsley, remaining two tsp. of garlic and 1/2 tsp. of salt to bread crumbs and wine in the bowl. Stir to blend (Use your hands; nothing better to mix together all these ingredients, but make sure you don’t end up with bread crumbs sitting at the bottom of your bowl).

The recipe requires a lb. of lean ground pork.
The recipe requires a lb. of lean ground pork.
The pork gets added to the bread crumbs and wine.
The pork gets added to the bread crumbs and wine.
Let's tackle the onion.
Let’s tackle the onion.
All we need is a quarter of a cup of chopped onion.
All we need is a quarter of a cup of chopped onion.
The chopped onion joins our ground pork and breadcrumbs.
The chopped onion joins our ground pork and breadcrumbs.
You definitely don't want to forget the garlic in the meatball mixture!
You definitely don’t want to forget the garlic in the meatball mixture!
The recipe requires one lightly beaten egg to be added to the pork mixture.
The recipe requires one lightly beaten egg to be added to the pork mixture.
The egg has been introduced.
The egg has been introduced.
The fresh parsley, of which we'll need three Tbs.
The fresh parsley, of which we’ll need three Tbs.
The first Tbs. of fresh minced parsley is added into the bowl (as you'll see, I'm not a great mincer, but do your best).
The first Tbs. of fresh minced parsley is added into the bowl (as you’ll see, I’m not a great mincer, but do your best).

And here is the meatball mixture after all of the ingredients have been well blended together.

And here is the meatball mixture after all of the ingredients have been well blended together.

Form the meatball mixture into 24 meatballs. These will not be large meatballs, but smallish to medium (The first time I tried this recipe, I made the first meatballs a bit too big and ended up with only 20 meatballs If you start off thinking small or medium, you can always adjust the sizes of individual meatballs if you end up with 24 balls and mixture to spare). Once you get started, you’ll get in the groove and they’ll be done in no time.

 

The first six meatballs formed.
The first six meatballs formed.
The meatballs all shaped and ready to go into a hot skillet.
The meatballs all shaped and ready to go into a hot skillet.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, bring the heat up on your stove burner to medium-high. Add the meatballs to the pan in batches and cook, routinely flipping meatballs until they get a good brown coating (The recipe recommends 5-7 minutes for each batch, but the batches after the first one tend to cook faster once the oils from the first batch mix with the cooking spray, so pay more attention to the coloring then how much time has passed. I did batches of eight meatballs). We are not cooking the meatballs through in this process, that’s what the slow cooker is for; this is to give the meatballs a good sear and color and help firm them before they go into the crock pot.

Our large skillet sprayed  with Pam.
Our large skillet sprayed with Pam.
Here is the first batch of meatballs in the heated skillet, ready to be browned.
Here is the first batch of meatballs in the heated skillet, ready to be browned.
The meatballs starting to get that nice brown coating that we want.
The meatballs starting to get that nice brown coating that we want.

 

Start adding the meatballs into the slow cooker as you finish each batch. Once you have all the meatballs in the slow cooker, gently (to avoid breaking up the balls), use a utensil to coat the meatballs with the sauce. Set the slow cooker on high and cook for three to four hours (I would recommend closer to three or three and a half hours, but check the meatballs after three hours if you can and assess whether you think they look ready and not all the sauce has dried up).

The first of our meatballs from the skillet about to test the waters, so to speak.
The first of our meatballs from the skillet about to test the waters, so to speak.
Starting to get crowded in here.
Starting to get crowded in here.
All of the meatballs have gone into the slow cooker and have had a coating of sauce gently applied.
All of the meatballs have gone into the slow cooker and have had a coating of sauce gently applied.
The slow cooker set on high for four hours.
The slow cooker set on high for four hours.
Here are the meatballs after cooking in the crock pot and ready to be served.
Here are the meatballs after cooking in the crock pot and ready to be served.

You’re ready for plating! As I said at the top of the post, these go great with garlic cauliflower mash (Check the archives for the recipe). Enjoy!

I am serving these deliicious pork meatballs on a bed of garlic cauliflower mash.
I am serving these deliicious pork meatballs on a bed of garlic cauliflower mash.

Nutritional Breakdown:

Serving size: four meatballs

Per serving: Cal: 230; Total Fat: 11 g. (Sat Fat: 2 g.); Chol: 80 mg.; Sodium: 720 mg.; Carb: 11 g.; Pro: 21 g.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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