Showing posts with label minced beef. Show all posts
Showing posts with label minced beef. Show all posts

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Porcupine Balls

I open the deep freezer with a big sucking whoosh.  I peer into its disorganized shelves and start rooting around for something that looks like it might want to be dinner.  Ah, ground beef.  We haven’t had Salisbury steaks in a while.  “Come with me, my minced friend,” I say.  Now for a starch and a veg.  The veg is easy because I have salad fixings.  But starch-wise, we just had potatoes last night and pasta the night before, so that leaves couscous – a possibility but, nah – or rice.  But rice would require gravy.  And if you are making Salisbury steak with gravy, you gotta have mushrooms in it.  Hey, I don’t make these rules up.  They just are.  And I have no mushrooms.  So.  So.  Let’s think.  And then suddenly, it pops into my head.  A meal I haven’t made or eaten or even thought of for a very long time.  Where it came from, I do not know.  Porcupine balls!   They are relatively quick and certainly easy.  They are a great weeknight meal and I almost always have all the ingredients on hand.  And kids love them.  More’s the pity, I have no kids left at home.  But never mind.  You might.  Porcupine balls, it is!

Disclaimer:  No actual porcupines were harmed in the making of this dish.  

Photo credit: Michael Richert 

Yay for all you organized types who plan ahead, but this is often how the dinner menu gets decided at our house.  Raise your hand if you do the same.  Ha!  I knew I liked you!

For the porcupine balls:
About 1 lb or 500g ground beef
1/2 small purple onion – about 1 1/4 oz or 35g
1 egg
1 beef stock cube
A few good grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup or 180g white Basmati or other long grained rice

For the cooking sauce:
1 14 oz or 400g can chopped tomatoes in juice
2 generous tablespoons or 60g tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on your taste)
1 large clove garlic

For optional garnish:  chopped parsley or cilantro

Using a hand blender, purée the onion and beef cube with the egg.  Add in the black pepper.

Pour the puréed mixture into the ground beef and mix well.  Then tip in the rice and mix thoroughly.

Roll the meat/rice mixture into small balls.  I divide these using my cookie dough scoop and then roll them smooth.   Set aside.

Put the first five sauce ingredients into a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid, along with some water.  If you use the tomato can to measure the water, about half a can will do.  Grate the garlic into the pan.

With the pan over a medium flame, bring the sauce to a boil.  Stir occasionally.  This should take just a few minutes.

Carefully immerse the meatballs in the sauce.  Do not burn yourself!  Give the pan a little shake so the meatballs will work their way to the bottom.

Top up with more water, until meatballs are almost covered.

Bring to a boil once more and then simmer, covered tightly for 30 minutes.  Set a timer.  During the first 10-15 minutes of the cooking time, pick the pot up with oven mitts occasionally and give it a gentle shimmy.  Do NOT open the lid.

When the timer goes off, turn off the stove and leave the lid on until you are ready to serve but another 15-20 minutes would be good.  NO peeking.

When you finally open the lid, the rice will have cooked and swollen out of the meatballs, turning them into, voilà, porcupine balls.  Your starch and meat all in one neat package.  Serve with salad or the vegetable of your choice.


Note:  My backdrop material was created by my talented younger daughter.  It can be seen in its almost entirety here.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Meatzza for #ForeverNigella

I was browsing through the internet the other day, as you do, (Tell me it's not just me!) and I came across a blog hop devoted to Nigella Lawson and food your family would love.  The original organizer of the blog hop is Sarah at Maison Cupcake, but the host this month is Sally from Recipe Junkie and the Attack of the Custard Creams.  I could appreciate Sally’s attachment to Nigella and baking.  She went through a challenging time when her child was quite ill a few years ago and baking from Nigella's How to Become a Domestic Goddess gave her structure and something she could control.  While my feeling-out-of-control issues are not on par with hers, with all our moving about, I could definitely relate.  If my kitchen is in working order, I am in a safe, familiar place.

I decided to join the blog hop by making a Nigella recipe from her latest book, Nigellissima.  Whenever we have pizza, my motto is always the more meat, the better.  And the thinner the crust, the better.  This recipe goes one step further on both counts.  No crust at all and it’s basically all meat.  I added cooked lentils because 1. I like them, 2. I knew they would taste good and 3. they would make me feel better about eating what is basically a big hamburger patty with tomatoes and cheese.  This is comfort food for sure.  If you are trying to restrict carbs in your diet, this is the perfect pizza, or rather, meatzza for you.

1 lb 2 oz or 500g ground or minced beef
3/4 cup or 100g cooked lentils
3/4 oz or about 20g Parmesan
Small handful fresh parsley
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Olive oil
1 can 14 oz or 400g chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Crushed red pepper - optional
1 ball mozzarella – about 4 1/2 oz or 125g – plain or with basil
1 small bunch fresh basil – for garnish

Preheat your oven to 425°F or 220°C.

Chop your parsley and pour your canned tomatoes into a sieve to drain.  (Save the juice for soup or another dish.)

Put your ground beef, lentils, parsley and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Grate in the Parmesan and one of the cloves of garlic and add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir until just mixed through.

Oil a shallow, round baking tin.  For a thinner crust, choose a wider baking pan.  Mine was only about 8 in or 21cm so this was definitely a deep pan meatzz.  Press the meat mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.

In another bowl, put your well-drained tomatoes, a little sprinkle of salt and the oregano.  Grate in the second clove of garlic and give it a good drizzle of olive oil.  Mix well.

Spread the seasoned tomatoes onto your meat and then sprinkle with some crushed red pepper, if using.

Slice the mozzarella and arrange the slices on top of the tomatoes.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of your meat layer.  I was a little bit concerned initially because the meat juices came up and around the tomatoes and cheese, which was not attractive.  But at the end of the cooking time, the top was browned and it was all good.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Decorate with the basil and cut in wedges to serve.  I served a good wedge along side a salad of arugula or rocket with a simple vinaigrette to complete the meal.

Nigella’s recipe says it serves four to six people but even with a side salad and my addition of the lentils, I don’t think you could stretch this to feed more than four.   It was delicious though and I would definitely make it again.


And again, check out the other #ForeverNigella favorites in the blog hop right here.