Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs

I admit it, I’m somewhat of a snob when it comes to food. When I can afford it, I buy local or organic. I don’t buy items containing high fructose corn syrup if I can at all avoid it (and have been duped by products that I didn’t think could possibly have it*). I read labels religiously and try to buy minimally-processed products with a minimum of chemicals and preservatives.

And then we get to rice. I find plain white rice boring after growing up with it and think parcooked rice is an abomination. When I moved out, I bought a box of jasmine rice on a whim because it was on special. The light, floral fragrance that wafted from my rice cooker entranced me. I had no idea plain rice could be so good. A little salt and I ate rice for dinner happily.

Jasmine is still my favorite rice, but I soon started trying more: Calrose, Bhutanese Red, Javanese, brown Jasmine, Arborio, and my husband’s favorite, Basmati. Central Market in Seattle, with its bulk bins of neat little foods to try, supplied with me with many varieties to taste.

But I have a guilty little secret hiding on the top shelf of my pantry.

Instant rice.

Why? It’s for one specific recipe: porcupine meatballs. My stepfather used to make this for my mom and I long ago. I could use cooked rice but I never seem to have leftover rice in the fridge. Or maybe I’m just being sentimental.

In any case, these little guys get their name from the grains of rice that stick out all over. It’s a fairly classic American recipe but one which I really enjoy.

Porcupine Meatballs [printable recipe]

Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/3 cup instant rice1 (or 1/2 cup cooked regular rice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 dash powdered ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp teriyaki sauce

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix all ingredients together well. Form mini-meatballs (about a teaspoons-worth) and drop on a foil- or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

Notes:
1. For best results fast, use Minute Rice or another “instant” rice that cooks in 5 minutes. My generic “instant” rice cooks in 10 and needs to be cooked about halfway so it doesn’t add the crunch of raw rice. Otherwise, use leftover cooked rice from another meal.

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* What on earth am I going to do with an entire jar of pickles doused in high fructose corn syrup? They’re so sweet, it’s painful. I don’t dislike many foods but sweet pickles are firmly in the “Blecch” category.

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