Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One step beyond "serve with meatballs"

Tonight I had a crack at the final "Quick and Easy with Rice" recipe - these being the handful of recipes using packets of Rice Risotto as a main ingredient. On the whole, I dislike recipes that are designed to sell me things, but the other Rice Risotto meals have been quite tasty, so I had high hopes for this one as a worthwhile 'shortcut' meal.

At first glance, beef meatballs (p108) seems like it's just a recipe for meatballs that you cook up and serve with Rice Risotto: more of a Rice Risotto serving suggestion than an actual recipe. When you look a little closer, you find that the meatballs are actually cooked in the risotto, so I guess you can actually claim the risotto is an ingredient in a single recipe, rather than just an accompaniment to the main dish.

The instructions for making the meatballs are to combine soft breadcrumbs, chopped onion, mince, herbs and tomato sauce. I eliminated the chopping and mixing by merely bunging a couple of slices of bread in the food processor with a quartered onion, then, once those were sufficiently chopped, adding the other ingredients and combining the mixture with a brief blitz. Easy.

It took a little while to roll the mixture into meatballs - they are supposed to be walnut-sized , so it made quite a few (even if I was modelling mine on suspiciously large walnuts). Once the meatballs were shaped, I browned them in a frying pan, then set them aside on the plate and tipped the contents of the rice sachet into the pan.

Following the instructions on the risotto box, I stirred the rice in the leftover oil and meatball juices for a couple of minutes before tipping in hot water and the contents of the beef flavour sachet. When the water began to boil, (which was almost immediately) I tipped the meatballs back in, put a lid on the pan and left it to simmer.

After 15 minutes, I took the lid off and let the rice cook for another 5. By this time, the rice had swollen up to surround the meatballs and all the liquid had been absorbed. It looked quite yummy, so I served myself up a bowlful and had a taste.

The rice had plenty of flavour (that'll be the good ol' flavour sachet) but the meatballs were a bit bland. My first thought was that I'd accidentally skipped the part about seasoning again, but when I checked, there's no mention of seasoning in the recipe. That said, the meatballs were moist, juicy, and nicely cooked through - even the onion.

This is a fairly easy one-pan meal. I suppose there aren't any veges in it, but if you chucked a bit of vege in there it'd cook ok. Rolling the meatballs is the only fiddly bit and it doesn't really take too long. As long as you add a bit of seasoning (and/or whatever other spices and herbs you like) to bring those meatballs back from the edge of blandness, you can get a simple, tasty meal on the table in about half an hour.

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