porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







herby beef fillet with flavoured butter

Rosemary, thyme, garlic &. butter are four key ingredients to a super delicious, flavourful steak and are four ingredients I seldom cook without. Steak is rarely cooked in my kitchen as we prefer to cook it outside, on the ‘braai’ which is customary to our heritage and tradition.
In fact, ‘braai’ is such a big part of South-African tradition there is a day that has been dedicated to it. (Heritage Day.)

Although you can easily cook this recipe on the fire my preferred method is in a griddle pan on the stove.
A griddle pan uses less oil, ensures even cooking and provides those beautiful char marks we all find so very appealing. The compound butter enhanced and complemented the meat beautifully and since you serve the steak topped with extra butter, you don’t need a sauce.

ingredients | serves 4 | a little effort
for the fillet
4 portions beef fillet
8 rosemary stalks
16 thyme sprigs
3T olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper

for the compound butter
130g butter, room temperature
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
1/2t crushed cumin seeds
1/4t red pepper flakes
1/2t onion powder

method
In a bowl, combine the compound butter ingredients and mix well using a wooden spoon. Lie a piece of clingfilm on a work surface and spoon the butter mixture onto the centre of the clingfilm. Roll the butter into a log and twist the ends to seal well.
Place into the freezer for at least one hour.

Tie the rosemary & thyme around the fillet steaks using cooking string.
Drizzle the steaks with the olive oil and gently rub it into the meat, around the herbs. Season with salt & pepper.

Slice the compound butter into rounds using a sharp knife and discard the clingfilm.
Cook the steak in a hot griddle pan, turning as you go. Add about half of the compound butter halfway through cooking to baste the steaks until you have reached the preferred doneness.

Rest the meat for at least ten minutes before serving, topped with a round of compound butter.


I


parmesan loaded meatball & orecchiette skillet

As pastas go I don’t have one specific favorite. I love all kinds, for very different reasons.
The general rule of thumb is that wide, flat pastas like pappardelle or tagliatelle love cream based sauces and long, round pastas, like spaghetti, are best served with a good drizzle of olive oil or draped in tomato based sauces, which beautifully coats each strand evenly.
“Rigate” means ridges, which makes it easy for sauces like pesto to cling to the pasta.
Short shaped pasta varieties, which includes orecchiette, are ideal for holding rich, hearty sauces with textures from vegetables or proteins.

Since making meatballs can be a little time consuming I make it worth my while by making two batches. One to use immediately and the other to freeze for a different occasion or dish. They freeze really well and bake beautifully straight from frozen.

These mini meatballs are packed with parmesan and herbs giving them a lot of flavor so they are perfect on their own as a snack or canape, served with spaghetti or in a beautiful creamy pasta dish such as this one.

ingredients | makes about 30-35 mini meatballs | a little effort
500g beef mince
1/2 white onion, very finely chopped
1t finely chopped garlic
5 thyme stalks, leaves only
2 rosemary stalks, leaves finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2C finely grated parmesan
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
1 whole egg
1T worcester sauce
2T chutney (I used Mrs Balls, original)
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
2-3T olive oil for frying

for the sauce
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1t crushed garlic
3T sun-dried tomato pesto (optional)
1 can crushed tomato
1 1/2C – 2C beef stock
1 1/2t dried oregano
1T brown sugar
1t fine salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2C orecchiette pasta shells
1/2C cream, full fat
fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro, garnish
fresh parmesan, garnish

the method
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in large bowl. Using your hands, mix well until combined and then, with the palms of your hands, roll into balls just larger than bite size.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat and melt the butter and cook the onion until glossy. About two minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the oregano & pesto and cook for another minute, while stirring.
Pour the beef stock & crushed tomato into the skillet, add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir. Add the pasta shells, stir to coat and then nestle the meatballs into the sauce.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until the pasta is cooked. Stir the cream through the pasta mixture.

Garnish with fresh parsley & cilantro and top with large shavings of parmesan.



beef & beer casserole

These beautiful winter days make me want to curl up with good red wine and good food.
The secret to any good stew or casserole is patience. But, the ingredients, of course, also play a very important role. Essentially what you want from a stew is big flavor and beautifully tender meat.
Ask your butcher for advice on the best cuts of meat and source the freshest vegetables you can get your hands on.
The quality of our food really lie in the quality of the ingredients.

ingredients | serves 6 | patience
1.2kg stewing beef, bone in, cut into smaller cubes
1/4C flour
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced or chopped
4 large carrots, cut in similar sizes as the meat
300g small (baby) onions
500ml beer or ale
2.5C beef stock
2T tomato paste
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
4 thyme sprigs, leaves only
4 bay leaves
1T brown sugar
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper
fresh parsley, garnish

how to
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.
Dredge the meat with the flour. Heat olive oil in a large oven proof skillet and brown the meat on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the skillet, heat a little more olive oil and saute the chopped onions until translucent. Add the tomato paste to the skillet and cook for about one minute.
Add the carrots, baby onions and garlic and cook for about two minutes. Pour the beer into the skillet and deglaze the pot while scraping the bits from the bottom. Leave to simmer for about three minutes.
Add the herbs, sugar, salt & pepper to the skillet and stir through. Add the meat to the pot and slowly pour the beef stock around it.
Bring everything to a gentle boil. Cover the skillet with a lid, leaving it slightly tilted to allow more steam to evaporate while cooking.
Carefully place the skillet into the preheated oven and cook for 2.5 – 3 hours, stirring halfway through cooking.

If you would like a thicker sauce, mix two teaspoons corn flour with two teaspoons water. Add it to the pot and bring it to a gentle simmer.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with mash or basmati rice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x


beef brisket

This cut is most definitely one of the least tender cuts of beef but when braised or slowly roasted (low & slow) it is rendered soft and has the most incredible flavour!
I was lucky enough to get a very large piece of brisket from my local butcher. A whole 4.6kg of brisket! So I portioned it, wrapped it and placed it in my freezer for a next occasion. One piece, however, was on my dining table last night. And it was sublime! The warm earthy flavours of the spices it was marinated in worked well with the skillet potato & sweet potato and, of course, was the perfect meal for a chilly winters evening.
The low and slow method is very important here so give it the full four hours as per my recipe. You will not regret it.
I also requested my butcher to remove the bone, which was ideal when slicing the meat.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
1.3kg beef brisket, bone removed
Olive oil
2t paprika
2t ground coriander
2t mustard powder
1t garlic powder
1/4t salt
1/2t black pepper
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2T brown sugar
2T tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, whole
3 bay leaves
1.5C red wine
chicken stock (about 2 cups depending on the size of your roasting tray)
corn flour if necessary

how to
In a bowl, mix together the paprika, coriander, mustard powder & garlic powder. Drizzle about three tablespoons olive oil over the brisket and gently rub it into the meat on all sides.
Tip the spice marinade onto the brisket and rub it in using your hands, covering the meat on all sides. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.
Remove the meat from the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Heat oil in a large oven proof skillet or tray big enough to hold the brisket. Brown the brisket on all sides, about five minutes per side. Remove the brisket and set aside.
Add a knob of butter to the same skillet without wiping it clean. Sauté the onion for about two minutes. Add the carrot and cook for one minute, stirring.
Add the tomato paste & brown sugar to the skillet and cook the mixture for about three minutes, caramelising the onion & carrot. Add the garlic, stir through and then deglaze the pan with the red wine. Leave to simmer for about three minutes. Add the bay leaves, salt & black pepper. Now pour the chicken stock around the brisket, just more than halfway up.
Tightly wrap the skillet with tin foil or cover with a tight fitting lid.
Place into the oven and roast for 4 hours.
Once cooked, leave to rest for about ten minutes, loosely covered with tinfoil. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, blitz the stock and vegetable mixture and then strain through a sieve into a sauce pot.
Bring the mixture to the boil and then to a medium simmer. Taste and season. Thicken with corn flour if needed. (Two teaspoons corn four with two teaspoons water.).
Using a serrated knife, slice the brisket flat, against the grain.

Serve with skillet vegetables and couscous or roasted root vegetables.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x