Porcupine Meatballs

Meatballs with rice in them in a tomato sauce

What can I even say that doesn’t come off as trite about how the months have gone since my last post? It’s 2020, we all know the deal, this ongoing pandemic is incredibly difficult. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. My husband’s job is safe, none of my family have gotten sick, and I’m pretty sure my liver is doing ok despite being put through the wringer of late. At least I hope it is.

We have been getting take-out about the same amount as we had done pre-pandemic and with three kids, we hardly ever went out to dinner anyway. So it some ways, things have stayed the same in my household. Home cooking is the norm around here. Sometimes home cooking is also just cooking at home with convenience foods like chicken fingers, frozen vegetables and potato wedges. We are all doing our best. If dinner is practically ready in the freezer just waiting to be thrown in the oven then take a breath and serve that with peace knowing you are doing a good job.

I originally developed this recipe for Porcupine Meatballs a few years ago for Mushrooms Canada and it became a family favourite that I make regularly. There are finely minced mushrooms mixed with the beef so I do recommend using a food processor to chop the mushrooms up. If you don’t have one then you could certainly work on your chopping skills and do it by hand. I make this with extra lean ground beef but I have made it with medium ground beef before. That was a mistake. The oil that puddles on top because of the extra fat in the beef was unappetizing to say the least. I sopped it up with paper towel which has a major ick factor. If you don’t eat beef, ground turkey would be a great option since it is quite lean and would make great meatballs. Substitute chicken or vegetable broth for the beef broth that is in the tomato sauce if you choose ground turkey.

When I make this, I almost always double the recipe and put half of it in the freezer for another day. I freeze the raw meatballs on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag once they are frozen. Sometimes I double the sauce as well and freeze that in a separate bag but not always. The sauce is really quick to make so if freezer space is at a premium for you, then just double the meatball part of the recipe and make the sauce the day you cook them.

I know it has been a long time since I posted a recipe but I hope to be posting a bit more often in the near future. I have a couple other recipes all ready to go and I also have some recipes in mind that I want to share. These are all recipes that I make often and that my family love. I have a really hard time writing lately because my ongoing depression has taken my self confidence out at the knees. Sharing recipes, my thoughts, and vulnerabilities takes a huge mental effort for me. If you have been struggling lately, you are not alone.

I hope you make and enjoy this recipe. Wear a mask and stay safe!

Porcupine Meatballs
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Ingredients

    Meatballs
  • 450 g/ 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 230 g/ 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup basmati rice (uncooked)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup low sodium beef broth
  • big pinch of salt and pepper (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. In a food processor with the blade attachment, add the mushrooms and pulse until they are smaller than a peppercorn.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the ground mushrooms with the ground beef, rice, spices, salt, and Worcestershire Sauce with your clean hands. Using your hands is really the best way to make sure it is all mixed thoroughly.
  4. Set the meat and mushroom mixture aside and mince the onion and garlic in the food processor (no need to clean it out) or chop the onion and garlic by hand if preferred.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the minced onion and garlic over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Mix the sautéed onion and garlic with the crushed tomatoes, broth, dried herbs, and salt & pepper in a large glass measuring cup or a bowl. Stir well and then transfer half the liquid to a large rectangular casserole dish.
  7. Scoop out and shape slightly heaped tablespoon-size meatballs and place them in the dish on top of the sauce. Do not make them too large or the rice won’t cook properly.
  8. Once all the meatballs are shaped and in the dish, pour the remaining sauce over top of them. Don’t worry if they are not completely covered in the sauce.
  9. Use either the lid to the casserole dish or snugly fit a large piece of foil over the dish.
  10. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 400 F. You can take the foil (or lid) off when there is about 10-15 minutes left if you want the sauce to thicken slightly.
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