Many families have a favorite family dish, passed along from generation to generation. Some folks make their favorite recipes quite often, while others make them during the holidays. One of our family favorites is Italian Rice Balls. My grandparents, who traveled from Italy to America for their honeymoon, lived with us for many years. My grandmother and mother made all meals from scratch, including homemade pasta and spaghetti sauce. Grandma’s Italian Rice Balls were a favorite reserved for the holidays. We served the rice balls with roasted chicken, turkey and ham dinners. My mother and her sister passed down the recipe to my cousins, sister and me. The recipe is below:
1 cup white rice, cooked according to package directions
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1 ½ cups Italian style breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
¼-cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine the rice, ground beef, tomato paste, ½ cup of the breadcrumbs, egg and seasonings in a large bowl. Mix well with fork. Cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate two hours or overnight (we usually prepare the mixture in the evening and refrigerate overnight).
Heat oil in a large skillet. While the oil is heating up, spread one cup of the breadcrumbs onto a large plate. Form two-inch balls of the ground beef/rice mixture, then roll in the breadcrumbs until completely covered. Gently place the balls into the skillet and cook, turning each ball over, until all sides are lightly brown in color. The rice balls should be slightly firm and crispy. Place cooked rice ball on a paper towel-lined plate to catch the excess oil. Place in a casserole dish, cover with foil and bake in oven at 350 for half an hour. Serve as a side dish. Refrigerate any leftovers in a covered casserole dish.