Herbed Beef or Veal Meatballs Stuffed With Brain

Nose-to-tail eating at its finest with this simple, savoury, herbed meatball recipe. If you've never eaten or cooked brain before and are looking for a less intimidating way to introduce this incredibly nutrient-dense food into your meal rotation, this meatball recipe is perfect for you. Use the type brain you have access to — I recommend veal or lamb. This recipe is completely grain and gluten-free and is suitable for Keto, Paleo, Whole 30 people. This recipe scales up easily. 

  • Author: The Peasant's daughter
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 3 lbs 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Italian American


  • 3 lbs of ground veal or beef.
  • 3 lamb's brains or 1/2 veal brain.
  • 1 small onion, finely diced.
  • 1/2 head of garlic, minced.
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and whole.
  • 1 cup of basil, torn.
  • 1-2 sprigs rosemary.
  • 1-2 sprigs of thyme.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Oil for frying — I recommend lard, tallow, ghee, or bacon fat.


Prepare The Brain

I give you instructions here for briefly poaching the brain. It makes it firmer and easier to work with. It is not entirely necessary.

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and gently lower the brains in the water for no more than 7-10 minutes. You may place them in a metal colander to make this easier.
  2. Slice the brains into 1-inch chunks or about a teaspoon worth.

Prepare The Meatballs

If you are grinding your own beef/veal, use coarse plates, add the herbs, the minced onion, about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the minced garlic, and the spices (except for the rosemary, thyme, single whole garlic clove, and bay leaf) then grind. Make sure the meat is cold and direct from the refrgerator.

  1. Otherwise, mix the ground beef gently in a large bowl adding the same ingredients as listed above, and skipping the ones mentioned as well (they are for later).
  2. Heat up a large frying pan on med/high and add some oil for frying (lard, tallow, ghee or bacon fat work best).
  3. Depending upon the size of meatballs you prefer (I like them on the smaller size, about one heaping tablespoon) scoop up some of the meat mixture withyour hands and then wrap it around a morsel of the poached or raw brain. I use about a teaspoon sized chunk of brain per meatball.
  4. When the oil is hot add enough meatballs so that there is an inch of space aroud each one. Do not crowd the pan.
  5. Turn the meatballs as they sear so that an even, flavourful, brown crust forms.
  6. Your meatballs will be ready in about 10 munutes if they're the size of the ones pictured. Larger ones will obviously take longer to cook through. Meatballs are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F
  7. For the last 5-7 minutes of cooking, add the aromatics into the pan: rosemary, thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic. If they start t burn, remove them with tongs.
  8. Remove from heat and enjoy.
  9. You can eat these meatballs on their own or serve them with your favourite gravy or tomato sauce. A rich mushroom gravy with cream and butter is especially nice.


These meatballs freeze very well and scale up easily for meal prep.