Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Echidna Meatballs aka Porcupine Meatballs

Well I definitely surprised myself while menu planning this week!  Not because we planned a full week of super quick and easy meals to get us to Friday as we have a busy week but I was surprised, actually stunned, that I hadn't blogged this gem of a recipe!  And I cannot even begin to think why?

My mam had a variety of homestyle dishes that she cooked as staples when we were growing up as did everyone's mothers.  Ours always had a British twist as although we were living in Australia my parents were born and raised in Wales.  So we had Shepherds Pie, Bangers and Mash with Onion Gray, Lamb Stew, Curry Pie, Toad in the Hole and of course, Eggs Beans and Chips.  These were the meals that were regularly on the table and we all enjoyed them.  I can tell you that there were never any leftovers when these went on our table.  In fact I still get a little excited if I know any of these dishes are what we are having for dinner.

However, my kids, have had to deal with me creating my own list of family favourite dinners.  As easy go to meals especially during the working week items that can be found on the menu planner can include Hamburgers, Taco's, Penne Boscaiola, Devilled Sausages, homemade pizza (your choice of topping), Chicken Parmagiana, Echidna Meatballs and of course, Eggs Beans and Chips.

I understand many of you may have or not had any of the dishes I have just mentioned so just for the record Toad in the Hole does not contain any toads, Porcupine Meatballs do not contain any porcupine meat and Echidna Meatballs definitely do not contain any Echidna meat.  Are we clear?  I am happy now that we have that sorted!

Firstly this recipe is based on Porcupine Meatballs, an American dish that has apparently been a staple for generations.  As we live in Australia I changed the name to Echidna meatballs based on the fact that we don't have Porcupines down under.  The Echidna, or Spiny Anteater, is the equivalent to it's Northern Hemisphere counterpart.

So what is an Echidna meatball?  Basically its a beef meatball with raw white rice added during the mixing stage.  Once the meatballs start cooking the rice starts protruding from the meat.  This resembles a Echidna or a Porcupine.  It's quite a groovy cooking technique and look pretty cool, especially if you are a kid.

Echidna meatballs are a very comforting and easy dish to make. The tender meatballs flavoured with herbs are cooked in a delicious tomato sauce.  There is no need to brown up the meatballs prior as they keep their shape well.  Note there is not a lot of stirring required during cooking so please do not be tempted to continually stir as you will ruin the effectiveness of the rice poking from the meatball.

Like with most hand me down recipes, googles or cookbook searches you will find a multitude of different versions all claiming to the best.  This recipe is nice, tasty and very easy but is it the best?  We think so but I am unsure.  Many use canned tomato soup but we find that using a can of condensed soup seems to make the sauce very sweet.  We prefer to add some diced fresh tomatoes along with canned and passata.  Add some chilli flakes if you wish to spice up the tomato sauce or even some different herbs.  Its a great recipe to experiment with also.

This is a perfect one pot weeknight wonder, even more so for me tonight as the man of the house, Noel, cooked dinner.  It was wonderful to come home from work and smell the deliciousness as I opened the front door.

Serve with mashed potato or plain pasta and I am sure your family will love them.

Echidna Meatballs aka Porcupine Meatballs

Serves: 4
SmartPoints per Serve: 7

500 grams lean beef mince
1/3 cup raw long grain rice
1 teaspoon beef stock powder
ground black pepper
1 egg white 
4 fresh truss tomatoes, diced
350 ml Italian passata
1 x 440g can diced tomatoes
1 onion, finely diced
1 cup water
2 teaspoons chicken stock powder 
2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chilli flakes (optional)

In a mixing bowl add mince, rice, stock powder and egg white. Season with salt and pepper.  Using your hand, mix all ingredients together until combined.  Shape into twelve even sized meatballs.

Place the tomatoes, passata, canned tomatoes, onion, water, chicken stock powder, garlic, oregano and chilli, if using, in a flameproof casserole dish or heavy based frying pan (with a lid). Mix well and bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Gently place meatballs in tomato sauce.

Put lid on casserole dish and gently simmer for 1 hour, stirring occassionally, until meatballs are cooked and rice is protruding.

Serve with mashed potatoes or pasta (add SP as required).

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