Family-friendly meal: Cheesy Porcupine Meatballs

My family has eaten a LOT of meatballs lately, as I’ve made this recipe over and over to test out the ingredients. Luckily, they love it! My mother reminded me a while ago that she used to make these when I was a child, which prompted me to have a go at making them (with hidden vegetables, of course). My kids stick their forks into them whole and eat them like lollipops.

Although the meatballs take a little preparation, the dish is quite easy to cook. The meatballs cook in the sauce, so there’s no standing over the cook-top trying to ‘brown the meatballs on all sides’. I’m notoriously bad at frying meatballs, and usually end up with meat-cubes.

This dish also has a bolognese-style flavour, so if the kids love bolognese (and the adults, because who doesn’t?), but you want something a little different or less pasta-heavy, this might be a good one to try. The Thermomix recipe is also below the regular recipe.

Cheesy Porcupine Meatballs

Serves 3-4, depending on how hungry your people are. I recommend serving with crusty bread or garlic bread, and a side salad or vegetables.

Meatballs:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince (alternatively you can use 500g beef mince if you don’t want to use pork)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup / 50g long-grain rice
  • 40-50g firm fetta

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 700ml passata
  • Grated parmesan, garlic bread and/or side salad, to serve

1. If you have a food processor, combine the garlic, carrot, zucchini, mince, and herbs, and blitz until well combined, before stirring through the rice and seasoning with salt and pepper. Alternatively, combine all of these ingredients in a large bowl using your hands (vegetables just may not be as well ‘hidden’). With wet hands, roll heaped tablespoon-sized meatballs. I generally end up with 18 – 20 meatballs.

2. Cut the fetta into cubes – one for each meatball – and push a cube into the centre of each meatball, wrapping the mince around the cube.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large wide saucepan or deep frying pan, over medium-high heat. Fry the onion and celery until soft.

4. Add the passata and 100ml water (I add the water to the empty passata jar and shake it up to get the sauce dregs). Season with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat slightly.

5. Carefully add the meatballs in a single layer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes, turning meatballs occasionally, until sauce has reduced and thickened.

6. Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese; with garlic bread and/or a side salad.

Thermomix: Cheesy Porcupine Meatballs

Serves 3-4, depending on how hungry your people are. I recommend serving with crusty bread or garlic bread, and a side salad or vegetables.

Meatballs:

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince (alternatively you can use 500g beef mince if you don’t want to use pork)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 50g long-grain rice
  • 40-50g firm fetta

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 700ml passata
  • Grated parmesan, garlic bread and/or side salad, to serve

1. Mince the garlic, 2 seconds, speed 8. Add the carrot and zucchini, and grate, 3 seconds, speed 7. Scrape down the bowl.

2. Add the beef and pork mince, herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Combine for 20-30 seconds, speed 6, until well combined.

3. Add the rice. Mix for 15-20 seconds, speed 6, reverse.

4. With wet hands, roll heaped tablespoon-sized meatballs – I generally end up with 18 – 20 meatballs. Cut the fetta into cubes – one for each meatball – and push a cube into the centre of each meatball, wrapping the mince around the cube.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large wide saucepan or deep frying pan over medium-high heat.

6. In the Thermomix bowl, chop the onion and celery, for 3 seconds at speed 5 (no need to clean the bowl first). Fry the onion and celery until soft.

7. Add the passata and 100ml water (I add this to the empty passata jar to get the sauce dregs) and bring to the boil. Reduce heat slightly.

8. Add the meatballs in a single layer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes, turning meatballs occasionally, until sauce has reduced and thickened.

9. Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese; with garlic bread and/or a side salad.

Porcupine Meatballs

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