Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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
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.