I have developed the need to make the perfect meatball since stepping foot in Leon’s and sampling their fabled Grilled Meatballs described as being “cooked down in a plum tomato sauce with fresh herbs and spices.” I must admit, even though I love the Leon concept, service and meatball sauce, so far for me, they were found lacking in the actual meatball department. Just not succulent enough, just too dense, solid and, dare I say it…meaty.
In my humble opinion, I do make a seriously tasty burger. I’ve never followed a recipe though. It’s just a combination of experience drawn from various dishes and trial and error. I add different ingredients from time to time to see if they will improve the end result and because variety is indeed the spice of life. However, each time I applied the principles I had tried and tested with my burgers and applied them to my meatballs, frankly Leon’s were better. How disappointing. The smaller volume of meat in a meatball compared to that in a burger, and its greater vulnerability to overcooking raised the game. I pretty much stopped bothering because to be honest, burgers don’t take as much work. You can make four large patties, with the same amount of beef as you’d use to make what seems like a million meatballs…
Then, I came upon Christine’s post at Texana’s Kitchen. I’d never heard of porcupine balls before and my desire to try them was not initially for the purposes of completing the quest for the perfect meatball. Putting rice into a meatball presented me with an attractively lazy method of combining protein with starch. I decided to make meatballs as I normally would, with the addition of a cup of rice to the mix. The result was the yummiest meatballs I have yet tasted (the leftovers were even more delicious)!
The only thing I realised was, the meat to starch ratio was not right for me. It was perfect for the meatballs, but I would have to eat too much meat, to get the amount of starch I need in a meal. Next time I’d probably make some roasted or mashed potatoes as an accompaniment, or maybe some chick pea flatbread. This time, I cooked them in some Sharwood’s Thai Red Curry sauce, added in some extra mushrooms and peas in the last 5 minutes and served them with a slice of toast 🙂 In future, I would love to make them again and slow cook them in lashings of bolognese-style sauce!
Meatballs with Rice in a Red Sauce
- 1 cup long grain/Thai fragrant rice
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup wheatgerm (you can substitute in breadcrumbs or rolled oats)
- 600g minced lean beef
- 2 medium to large eggs
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Anchovy paste to taste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- At least 415g cooking sauce (I used Thai Red Curry as mentioned above)
Wash the rice thoroughly in a large bowl. Drain the water off (I saved mine to use for my facial scrub/mask recipe). Add the chopped onion, wheatgerm, beef and eggs and combine evenly. Season with the rest of the ingredients to taste. I actually eyeball things most of the time and you might want to add some nice herbs depending on what sauce you intend to cook the meatballs with.
Put the flour into a small bowl. Cover a baking tray with cling film to keep surfaces clean and very lightly flour the cling. Using your palms, carefully roll the mixture into ping-pong sized balls. Dredge the balls in the bowl of flour and set aside on the lightly floured tray. When you have formed and floured all of the balls, roll them in flour again – I like to do this to bind the surface better.
Put a frying pan or skillet on a high heat and add the oil. Brown all the meatballs until they become firm enough not to break apart easily. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.
Return all the meatballs to the pan, lower the heat and pour in the sauce. Simmer over a low heat for at least 30 minutes. Then, serve and enjoy!
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I am publishing this a little later than expected. I forgot that I had drafted it and was waiting to edit in the photos. To give you an idea of how long it has taken me, this post was a sneak preview…oops, sorry about that! Thanks Christine for the perfect inspiration.
[Disclaimer: I am not promoting any brands in this post, although I have spent money on both of those mentioned when I have had the need for some swiftly prepared tasty food!]