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Rice Balls with Meat Sauce

 Rice Balls with Meat Sauce
My mom's deep-fried rice balls, flavored with traditional Italian cheeses, make a hearty main dish. She serves them with her special spaghetti sauce - my favorite - featuring ground beef and artichoke hearts. -Concetta Maranto Skenfield, Bakersfield, California
6-8 ServingsPrep: 50 min. + chilling Cook: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • CHEESE-STUFFED RICE BALLS:
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ounces cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • Oil for deep-fat frying

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Rice Balls with Meat Sauce (continued)

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat
  • until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the next nine
  • ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1
  • hour, stirring occasionally.
  • For rice balls, in a large bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs. Stir in the
  • rice, butter, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and
  • refrigerate for 20 minutes. Roll into 1-1/2-in. balls. Press a
  • mozzarella cube into each; reshape balls.
  • In a small bowl, lightly beat remaining egg. Dip each ball into egg,
  • then roll in bread crumbs. In a deep-fat fryer or electric skillet,
  • heat oil to 375°. Fry rice balls until golden brown, about 4
  • minutes. Drain on paper towels. Discard bay leaves. Serve meat sauce
  • with rice balls. Yield: 6-8 servings.