Monday, August 31, 2009

Porcupine Meatballs

One of my favorite meals at my grandma's house when I was little was porcupine meatballs. Of course, it may have been influenced by the macaroni and cheese and homemade bread she served with it - and I'm sure there was some sort of vegetable, but it has certainly faded to the background. If my memory serves correctly, once I grew up I asked for the recipe and she just used tomato sauce. That doesn't quite fit with my grown-up palate (or the memory, but I digress), so I set out to create my own.

I've actually combined two recipes, one that I found somewhere for the meatballs themselves, and another for the sauce. Perhaps I'd better back up - in case you aren't familiar with porcupine meatballs, they contain rice, which kind of sticks out like little quills.

This time, I used four pounds of hamburger, and I tried making the meatballs larger than usual . . . the scoop I used was probably about 1/3 cup, though I probably only had about 1/4 cup of mixture in there. I then put the meatballs on cookie sheets and baked them instead of browning them in a skillet. Since I had 44 total meatballs, I divided them 11 to a batch and froze three batches and cooked the other one.

Being me, I was out of white rice so I used brown . . . and during the simmering part, I cooked it and cooked it and cooked it. Still wasn't done. So the next day, I put the meatballs and sauce in the crock pot and THEN the rice finally got done. But the meatballs pretty much fell apart! Can't win for losing, and it tasted great. I've added white rice to the shopping list, though.

So. Recipes!
Porcupine Balls

2 pounds hamburger
1 cup regular uncooked white rice
1/2 cup water
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon celery salt (optional - I never have it)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix well, shape into about 20 balls, brown.

Mix 15 oz can tomato sauce, 1 cup water, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, pour over balls. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until rice is tender.
And here's the meatballs and sauce recipe that *I* like for the sauce (more on that in a bit):
Barbecued Meatballs - from a former co-worker's mother who is a good cook! And it's an honest-to-goodness freezer cooking recipe.

3 pounds hamburger
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup cracker crumbs (~27 saltines)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder

2 cups ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (see my riblet post for a link on why it's OK to use - no crazy chemicals!)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped onion

Meatballs: combine all ingredients (will be soft) and shape into walnut-sized balls. Freeze in single layer on wax-lined cookie sheets until firm, remove to air tight container and return to freezer.

Place frozen meatballs in 9x13 pan. Combine all sauce ingredients in bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over meatballs. Bake at 350* for one hour.

Notes: may want to make half again the sauce amount if you like saucy meatballs. Sauce can also be used on meatloaf.
My problem? Hubs thinks the sauce is too sweet. I can see his point.

So this time I experimented with a mixture of BBQ sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire. I used about 1 cup BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup ketchup, about 3 tablespoons brown sugar, several good shakes of Worcestershire, and some water to thin it, though I'm not sure I needed it. In actuality, I intended to use more ketchup but ran out. I thought the sauce smelled too BBQ sauce-y, but the flavor wasn't quite as strong. Still, I intend to use a higher ratio of ketchup next go-around. And, with three pounds of meatballs in the freezer, there WILL be a next time . . .

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