Guest Post: Porcupine Meatballs by Strawberries for Supper

We've got a guest in our kitchen! Since having Christina here last, her blog has gone through a whole transformation, be sure to check it out. She's still the same creative foodie we love, and she's here to share a mouthwatering Blend & Extend recipe, perfect for a busy family life. 

The economy and versatility of ground beef made it a frequent dinner main dish in a lot of peoples’ homes growing up. It was a staple in our house, even more so than chicken. We would often make spaghetti sauce for dinner and it was one of the first meals that I prepared completely on my own for my family starting at age 12 or so. Both my parents grew up on farms so teaching your kids how to help around the house was just a part of life for them and it passed down to my sister and me.

One of the meals that my mom would prepare with ground beef was Porcupine Meatballs. I have a feeling that I did not appreciate this dish as much as I should have when I was a kid; I was a very picky eater. When the opportunity came along to team up with Mushrooms Canada and Ontario Beef as part of Blend and Extend the distant memory of these strange looking meatballs wheedled its way forward in my mind.

I was a fool for never making these before I developed this recipe and now they will be on permanent rotation in our house. They are so easy to put together and because you don’t have to brown the meatballs before baking them in the oven it cuts down on the mess and time. They are an excellent weeknight meal for this reason. It takes about 15-20 minutes to pull it all together and get them in the oven and then you can get on with the thousand other things that need to get done around the house while they bake. Add in that I use the food processor to mince the mushrooms and don’t bother to clean it before using it to mince the onions and garlic, it is ideal.

The mushrooms blended in give a nice amount of moisture that helps plump up the rice in combination with sauce. If you've never seen these meatballs before, don’t worry the rice will cook through even though it starts out raw.

I note in the recipe that you should not make the meatballs larger than about a tablespoon. Please heed my warning. I made the meatballs in one batch about two tablespoons and there was a little more texture with the rice than I’d like. Think beyond al dente, to crunch. If you want to really be ahead of the game, double the recipe and freeze half. I haven’t done that yet, but with this baby that is on the way, you can bet that it is part of my master nesting plan come October.


Porcupine Meatballs

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 
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
½ cup low sodium beef broth
1 onion
1 clove garlic
½ tsp Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions 
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a food processor with the blade attachment, add the mushrooms and pulse until they are smaller than a peppercorn.
In a medium bowl, mix the pureed mushrooms with the ground beef, rice, spices, salt, and Worcestershire Sauce with your hands or a metal spoon.
Set the meat and mushroom mixture aside and mince the onion and garlic in the food processor (no need to clean it out).
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the minced onion and garlic over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. 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 casserole dish (such as a lasagna pan).
Scoop out and shape slightly heaped tablespoon-size meatballs and place them in the dish on top of the sauce. It is best to use a measuring spoon to scoop out the meatballs. Do not make them larger than this or the rice won’t cook properly.
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.
Use either the lid to the casserole dish or snugly fit a large piece of foil over the dish if it did not come with a lid.
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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A simple weeknight recipe that we can all feel good about serving! I love cooking up a delicious meal that I don't have to slave over. A huge thanks to Christina for sharing such a versatile meatball recipe.

Follow along with Christina online at Strawberries for Supper, on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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