Tag Archives: beef

Porcupine Meatballs


It’s a rainy day outside (rare in southern Arizona), my babies are BOTH napping, I’ve got some relaxing classical piano music playing…. Just the right moment to throw together one of my favorite comfort foods for dinner later today, Porcupine Meatballs. My neighbor made these for us once, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a fabulous make-ahead meal, too, since it freezes well.


The flavors are rich and savory without being super intense, so it’s a great meal for all ages. And, from my own personal experience on the receiving end, it is the perfect meal to take to someone who is sick, just had a baby, or is in need of a helping hand. Let’s take the plunge! In about 40 minutes, including prep time, you can dig in to a deeply satisfying meal.



Porcupine Meatballs

For the meatballs:

1lb ground beef
1/3-1/2 c finely minced onion
¾ c instant brown rice, uncooked
1 tsp salt
¼ c condensed tomato soup
1 egg

For the sauce:

2 cans condensed tomato soup
1 can water
1 Tbsp mustard
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly mix meat, onion, rice, salt, ¼ c soup, and egg.


Use a scoop or a spoon to make evenly sized meatballs. This little devil will make things so much easier!


Making meatballs and cookies before getting this scoop was a draaaaag, but now it’s a cinch. Bing bang cablammo!
Heat a skillet over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in it.


I’m scooping my meatballs straight into the skillet, but you can always scoop them onto some wax paper or something.



This meal is great to freeze–just make extra and pop a bunch of meatballs on a lined cookie sheet, put it in the freezer till the meat is frozen, and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag. If you keep a can of tomato soup on hand, you can whip these babies up in no time on a day when you don’t feel like cooking. I’ve done this a couple of times and it is fantastic!

Once the meatballs start to brown, gently roll them over to start cooking the other side.


Before they are cooked through, remove them to a plate and cook up the next batch if you still have meatballs to cook. Cook, cook, cook. Otherwise, proceed!
In a bowl, combine the remaining whole and partial can (from which we stole ¼ c for the meat mixture) of condensed soup with the mustard and water.


Set aside for a moment.

Add a couple of minced cloves of garlic to the pan with the meatballs and gently stir, for about a minute.


We really don’t want that garlic to brown and get bitter.

Add in the tomato soup mixture . . .


cover, and let simmer for a good 20-25 min.


I usually let mine simmer longer (about an hour), because I like the sauce to be more reduced. Taste the sauce and add salt or pepper as you see fit. I generally don’t add any extra salt. since the soup has plenty on its own.
Your house will be filled with a delicious, homey, mouth-watering aroma.


Man, is this comforting! I like to serve this dish alongside a baked potato, salad, and with sour cream or plain greek yoghurt to dip the meatballs in- strange perhaps, but it takes them to a whole other level!


They may not be so beautiful to look at, but these little uggos will make your taste-buds throw a party. A happy, comforting, warm-soak-in-the-tub-on-a-cold-rainy-day sort of a party.

Hope you enjoy these, guys! Make ‘em tonight!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Porcupine Meatballs

Beef Stroganoff

This lovely Beef Stroganoff with brandy and mushrooms and onions was another America’s Test Kitchen success from their “Best International Recipe” cookbook that I bought used after succumbing to the delights of their Thai Chili Beef and Szechwan Green Beans. Beef Stroganoff was a comfort food during my childhood which I had (oddly) never attempted to make myself. All of that changes today. And I’m dragging you along on the journey. Aren’t you glad?!?*

*Please only answer the above question using a) “yes,” b) “you betcha!” c) “can’t wait, girlfriend!” or d) “All of the above.” Thank you and goodnight.


(Serves 4)

1 1/2 lbs flap meat sirloin steak tips
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
10 oz white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 onion, minced
2 TBS flour
1 tsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup brandy
1 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TBS minced parsley leaves

Pound the beef to 1/2 inch thickness:

I like to cover meat with parchment paper to avoid bits of flying bacteria. I used to pound the meat naked in our little kitchen in the dorms during college. If anyone got some kind of food poisoning as a result, I sincerely apologize. I was extremely unconcerned about culinary hygiene in those days. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Unless, of course, it makes you weaker.

Anyway! Slice the pounded beef into strips 2 inches wide, and then slice each strip crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Confused? Here’s a visual:

All chunked up! Great. The worst part is over.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels (seriously, this will help it brown waaay better) . . .

. . . and season it with salt and pepper.

Can I just point out how the focus in that picture is on the little falling grains of salt? Yep. Awesome. And a total accident, by the way. Lest you should think my photographic skills are greater than they are and start expecting pictures with grains of salt in focus all the dang time. That would just be . . . too much pressure.

Heat 1 TBS of the oil over medium high heat in a 12 inch skillet. When quite hot, toss in half the beef chunks.

Let ’em sit for a couple minutes before moving them around. Brown the beef on both sides (about 6 minutes).

When the beef is done (= browned, since it will finish cooking through later), remove it to a bowl:

Heat another 1 TBS of oil and cook the second batch of beef in the same way, removing it to the same bowl when it’s done. Trust me–do it in two batches even if your efficient soul is trying to rebel against the words I am speaking to you. It guarantees a nice sear on the meat (which guarantees flavor) instead of a floppy steam (which breeds despair, hysteria, and angry taste buds). As a recovering Efficiency Addict, I can state with confidence that sometimes the ‘best flavor’ and the more ‘efficient way’ have to duke it out–and only one can win.

While the meat is cooking, other prep work can occur: mincing the onion, for one.

Slicing the mushrooms if you didn’t buy the pre-sliced kind like me. Chopping the parsley.

Juicing the lemon.

You only need 2 tsp of the lemon juice, but you can always use the rest to make a Hot Honey ‘n’ Lemon if it’s raining, or a chilled glass of lemonade if it’s hot and sunny.

Add the rest of the oil to the skillet, and when it’s nice and hot add the mushrooms and onion . . .

. . . along with 1/2 tsp of salt.

Immediately the veggies and fungi will start absorbing the meat particles from the skillet. It will smell like paradise.

Cook for about 8 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.

Stir in the flour . . .

. . . and tomato paste . . .

. . . and cook for 30 seconds.

You should stir constantly at this point to avoid burnination of the ingredients.

Yes, ‘burnination’ is a technical term. Haven’t you heard of Trogdor?

Now whisk in the broth little by little.

Add the brown sugar . . .

. . . brandy . . .

. . . and beef (with juices).

Stir it all around, bring it to a simmer and turn down the heat to low.

Cook uncovered for 30-35 minutes–the beef will cook through and the sauce will thicken during this time. I also used this interval to cook up some egg noodles.

Once the 30 minutes are up, take the skillet off the heat. Stir a couple spoonfuls of hot sauce into the sour cream to temper it (so that it doesn’t curdle when it hits the hot dish).

Add the tempered sour cream to the skillet . . .

. . . along with the lemon juice . . .

. . . and parsley.

Season to taste, and you’re done!

Serve over rice or pasta–I thought that egg noodles were perfect.

The sauce is flavorful without being overly rich.

The creaminess is perfectly offset by the acidity of the sour cream and lemon juice.

The mushrooms . . . don’t get me started. I love them under any guise.

Me and the fungi–we’re best buds.

This is nothing like the quasi-hamburger helper versions of beef stroganoff out there. There’s a place for those . . . but the chunks of meat in this one have me converted. Give ‘er a whirl!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Beef Stroganoff