Russian Meatballs with Rice in Tomato Sauce

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Russian Meatballs with Rice in Tomato Sauce

It seems that every nationality has their own specific variation of meatball preparation. From the best know ubiquitous Italian meatballs to the Middle Eastern kofta and everything in between, there must be a million different meatball recipes. Of course  Russian/Ukrainian cuisine has its own variety and those meatballs are as omni present on the dinner tables of Eastern European homes as the Italian version on the tables of the Italian homes. I grew up eating plenty of Russian meatballs and while my mother was with me in New York visiting from Ukraine, I wanted to cook together with her and reminisce about my childhood, learn more details of her recipes and put a twist of my own on those venerable Russian meatballs. We actually prepared an entire dinner of Russian staples and invited close Italian and Middle Eastern friends to sample. It was a lot of fun!
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Russian meatballs are different from many other varieties not necessarily in the method of preparation but rather in the ingredients. (please see my full recipe). Russian meatballs always have rice added which make them fluffier, lighter and change the consistency from their Italian cousins. My spin on the traditional recipe is to mix the minced veal and pork for the meat portion and to add sushi rice instead of the regular rice. I find that this specific combination of the ingredients result in a very moist, tender, light and fluffy meatball that will surprise and delight your palate. If you don’t eat pork, create your own combination using any meat you like including minced chicken.
Have fun experimenting and surprise your friends with these unusual meatballs!

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Ingredients: minced veal, minced pork, sushi rice, eggs, carrots, onions, tomato paste, tomato puree, butter, sugar, Aleppo pepper, kosher salt, vegetable oil, parmesan cheese, parsley.

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Chop onion for the sauce.

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Shred carrots for the sauce as well.

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Make the sauce: Heat some oil in wide sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat; add one chopped onion and shredded carrots.

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Cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Then add tomato paste and mix with the vegetables, continue cooking, add more oil if the skillet gets dry.

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Pour in tomato puree, season with salt, Aleppo pepper.

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Then add 1 teaspoon sugar, it helps to lower the acidity of any tomato-based sauce.

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Add butter and let it melt; cook the sauce for 5 minutes.

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Make meatballs: Chop another onion for the meatballs. Sauté it in a small skillet with a little oil, seasoned with salt and pepper until golden but not burned, about 4-5 minutes.

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Add cooked onion to the meat.

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You can use one or two eggs in this recipe.

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Add cooked rice, eggs, season with salt and pepper. Make a small patty and fry it in the same pan to check for seasoning, adjust if needed.

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Mix everything to combine.

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Using an ice-cream scooper or your hands roll 2-inch meatballs and place them into the sauce.

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Ladle the sauce over the meatballs, lower the heat, cover the Dutch oven with the lid and cook for 20 minutes.

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To serve, scoop some of the sauce on the bottom of each plate, top with two meatballs, shave some cheese on top. Sprinkle with parsley and extra pepper. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit!
Svitlana

Russian Meatballs with Rice in Tomato Sauce

recipe details

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the meatballs 
  •  ½ lb. minced veal
  • ½ lb. minced pork
  • 1/3 cup sushi rice, cooked
  • 2 eggs
For the sauce 
  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons spicy tomato paste
  • 1 lb. tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Aleppo pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
Garnishing options 
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
Equipment
  • Shallow Dutch oven or non-stick sauté pan

Directions

  1. Make the sauce: Heat some oil in wide sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat; add one chopped onion and shredded carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Then add tomato paste and mix it with the vegetables, continue cooking, add more oil if the skillet gets dry. Pour in tomato puree, season with salt, Aleppo pepper and sugar. Then add butter and let it melt; cook the sauce for 5 minutes.
  2. Make meatballs: Meanwhile, sauté the second chopped onion in a small skillet with a little oil, seasoned with salt and pepper until golden but not burned, about 4-5 minutes. Add cooked onion to the meat; add cooked rice, eggs, season with salt and pepper. Mix everything to combine. Make a small patty and fry it in the same pan to check for seasoning, adjust if needed. Using an ice-cream scooper or your hands roll 2-inch meatballs and place them into the sauce. Ladle the sauce over the meatballs, lower the heat, cover the Dutch oven with the lid and cook for 20 minutes.
3. To serve, scoop some of the sauce on the bottom of each plate, top with two meatballs, shave some cheese on top. Sprinkle with parsley and extra pepper. Enjoy!

share your thoughts

3 thoughts on “Russian Meatballs with Rice in Tomato Sauce”

    1. Hi Katia, Happy Healthy New Year! I grew up eating these meatballs, they are really wonderful & you can play with meat combination like ground chicken & pork or chicken & turkey, as long as you use sushi rice, they come out fantastic!!!! Bon appetite!

    2. Thanks so much!
      I remember as a lad at Grammar school back in England, the school canteen serving these up. (Those were pre-Thatcher days, when ordinary kids were looked after by the state.) Since then the obvious had escaped my attention… The rice is mixed INTO the balls…Since then I’ve frequently made Swedish meat balls, Danish frikadeller, Boller i karry (balls in curry), “Hakkebøffer” (with minced beef). etc etc I now realise why I have had such fond memories of those “fluffier” meatballs!
      All the best, Brian.

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