Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Krista's Kitchen Quick Fire Winner: Tracy's Porcupine Balls

Last week, I issued my second "Quick Fire Challenge" on the Krista's Kitchen Facebook page. I do this when I have an ingredient that I'd like to use. Plus, I really like to read about what everyone else "out there" is cooking. This recipe caught my attention for a number of reasons: One, because it was such an interesting way to use ground beef. I've never heard of Rice-a-Roni meatballs. Two, because it sounded simple and only used 4 ingredients. Three, because my kiddos always eat meatballs. And four, honestly...the name made me laugh. I know, I know, the name comes from the prickly looking texture created by the Rice-a-Roni, but the juvenile aspect of my sense of humor couldn't help but laugh like Beavis and Butthead whenever I mentioned the name of this recipe.

Here's how it all came together:

First, combine a pound of ground beef with an egg, some onion flakes, and salt and pepper.

Once you've mashed that all together, pour in the rice/vermicelli mixture (save the seasoning packet). I used a cheaper version of Rice-a-Roni that I found at ALDI. I began by stirring this together with a wooden spoon, but ended up using my hands to squish it all together.

Roll the mixture into balls and transfer to a skillet.

Saute the meatballs until brown on all sides. You'll wanted to stir/flip them a bit while they cook. I drained of the excess fat after the browning process.

Now add in the recommended amount of water from the rice box. This one called for 2 1/2 cups. Stir in the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.

I don't know why I needed to serve these with Brussels sprouts, but from the minute that I decided to prepare this recipe, I knew that I was making Brussels sprouts for our veggie. Maybe I needed conformity. A whole dinner, rolling around on my plate. It just seemed right.

Okay, here is the bottom line: These were really easy to make and the Porcupine Balls and accompanying gravy created in the cooking process were really flavorful. However, these made for a meatball that is more dense and a little chewier than I am accustomed to. The texture and ahem...the cross section of these kind of "weirded me out". See?

Not that any of these personal hang-ups stopped me from eating 5 or 6 for dinner, but the whole time I was thinking, "Interesting. Do I love them or not? The flavor is there, but I'm not sure about the texture." I was still thinking about them when I climbed into my friend's car after dinner to go to Mom's Night at our daughters' pre-school. I just had to tell my friend all about them. She suggested that I let her sample this recipe. When we returned home, I re-heated a few and let her and her daughter give them a try. They loved these! Seriously, loved them. She even called me later to talk about all of the applications for these Porcupine Balls...sandwiches, teriyaki-style appetizers, Italian Wedding Soup. So, thank you Tracy...for an easy and thought provoking recipe and for making my friend (and her daughter) so happy.

Tracy's Porcupine Balls

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
Onion flakes, a couple of shakes (I used a little more...around a tablespoon)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package Rice a Roni rice/vermicelli mix, beef flavored

Combine the ground beef, egg, minced onion, and salt and pepper. Stir in the rice mixture, reserve the seasoning packet. Form into balls. In a skillet, saute until browned. Drain. Add the recommended amount of water from the box. Stir in the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and a nice gravy has formed around the meatballs.


Julie said...

Did you have "rolls" to go with the rest of your rolling dinner? Hehe...they look yummy :)

Krista said...

Oh yeah...I've got rolls. lol.

theUngourmet said...

I make porcupine meatballs once but they didn't look nearly this tasty. I used plain rice but I like the idea of using this rice a roni instead. My husband used to (pre-kids) hang out at this little neighborhood pub and play pool and Beavis and Butthead was always on the t.v.. :)

Kim said...

Krista - I'm laughing at Julie's comment above ;0)

I think the porcupine balls look saucy and delicious. My husband, bless his heart, LOVES beef flavored rice a roni. He would most likely love a version using that beef flavored rice. I'll keep these in mind for him:D

teresa said...

ooh, how fun! i have a feeling that these would be a major hit in my house!

Mary | Deep South Dish said...

Oh now that interesting! I've never seen them made with the Rice a Roni. You know I used to LOVE that stuff.

Katy ~ said...

I've only had these with rice, but with rice-a-roni, oooooh so much more flavor. I think this is a terrific idea, and just imagining the flavors and the dinner conversation...well, it's all kind of fun.

Alycia Freimund said...

Ok So I have made porcupines in the past with instant rice and did not have this same rice was very crunchy. Not the most appealing. I did like the sauce, I also added a little more water and once it was at the end I added gravy packets to thicken the sauce. The sauce was good but the meatballs themselves were questionable. Maybe I didn't cook them long enough but it was like 25 minutes.

Nikki Weissenegger said...

I cooked mine for 45 minutes with the lid then another 20 off and the rice was still crunchy. Im not sure why

Unknown said...

You must use an 85/15 or 80/20 to get these to turn out right. Also, along with your seasoning packet, use a packet of brown gravy.. trust me way better. I prefer pioneer gravy mix. 30-40 min on low and they are perfect every time. Stir every 5 min or so to keep from sticking. Serve with mashed potatoes and side of cooked carrots...Enjoy! My kids favorite meal to this day!

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