Cous Cous Porcupine Meatballs

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Delicious creamy porcupine meatballs in cheesy alfredo sauce are perfect on a bed of pasta or fresh veggies.

meatballs with pasta and white sauce
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Hearty Cous Cous Porcupine Meatballs

Couscous porcupine meatballs are a delightful and innovative twist on the traditional meatball dish, incorporating the unique texture and taste of couscous. These meatballs get their distinctive “porcupine” name from the way the couscous grains protrude from the meatballs, resembling the quills of a porcupine. The base of the meatballs is usually a blend of ground meat, often beef or turkey, mixed with seasonings and herbs to create a rich and flavorful profile. The addition of couscous not only adds an interesting texture but also makes the meatballs lighter and more absorbent, allowing them to soak up sauces and flavors from accompanying dishes beautifully. This combination creates a delightful contrast in each bite – the tender, juicy meat complemented by the slightly chewy, grainy texture of the couscous.

These meatballs are versatile and can be adapted to suit a range of cuisines and flavors. They can be spiced up with a variety of seasonings, from traditional Italian herbs to more exotic spices like cumin or coriander, catering to different palates. Cooking methods for couscous porcupine meatballs vary, with options like baking, frying, or simmering in sauce, each method imparting a different texture and flavor to the dish. When simmered in a sauce, such as a classic tomato sauce or a rich gravy, the meatballs absorb the flavors, becoming even more succulent and delicious. They are commonly served as a main dish alongside sides like steamed vegetables, salads, or over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes or more couscous. This dish is not just a treat for the palate but also a visually appealing addition to any meal, with its unique appearance making it a conversation starter at dinner tables.

meatballs with pasta and white sauce

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Meatballs


Creating perfect couscous porcupine meatballs requires a blend of the right ingredients, techniques, and a bit of culinary finesse. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your meatballs turn out delicious and visually appealing:

Right Couscous Texture: Start by preparing the couscous correctly. It should be fluffy and not too wet, as overly moist couscous can make the meatballs soggy.

Proper Meat Selection: Choose a ground meat with a bit of fat content, like beef or pork, for juicier meatballs. Lean meats like turkey or chicken can also be used but consider adding a bit of olive oil or soaked breadcrumbs to keep the meatballs moist.

Seasoning Balance: Season the meat and couscous mixture well. Apart from salt and pepper, consider adding herbs and spices that complement the dish you’re pairing the meatballs with. Garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, or even a dash of cumin can add depth to the flavor.

Uniform Meatball Size: Ensure your meatballs are uniform in size for even cooking. A cookie scoop or a tablespoon can be a handy tool for this.

Integrating Couscous: Gently mix the couscous into the meat to avoid overworking the mixture, which can make the meatballs tough. The couscous should be evenly distributed throughout.

Cooking Method: You can bake, fry, or simmer the meatballs in sauce. Baking is a healthier option and helps the meatballs retain their shape better. If simmering in sauce, brown them first to add flavor and prevent them from falling apart.

Avoid Overcrowding: When cooking, give the meatballs enough space in the pan or on the baking sheet. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking.

Sauce Absorption: If you’re simmering the meatballs in a sauce, make sure the sauce is flavorful, as the couscous will absorb a lot of the sauce’s taste.

Resting Time: After cooking, let the meatballs rest for a few minutes. This helps in redistributing the juices throughout the meatball, making them more flavorful and moist.

Serving Suggestions: Serve them with a sauce that complements their flavor profile. A tomato-based sauce works well for Italian-style meatballs, while a creamy sauce might pair well with a milder, herb-infused version.

What to Enjoy with your Meatballs

Couscous porcupine meatballs can be paired with a variety of accompaniments to create a delicious and satisfying meal. Here’s a list of items that complement them well:

Tomato Sauce: A rich and tangy tomato sauce can be a perfect complement to the meatballs, enhancing their flavor.

Steamed Vegetables: A side of steamed vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and green beans adds a healthy and colorful touch to the meal.

Greek Salad: A refreshing Greek salad, with feta cheese, olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes, provides a crisp and flavorful contrast.

Tzatziki Sauce: A cool and creamy tzatziki sauce made with yogurt, cucumber, and garlic can be a great dip for the meatballs.

Couscous Salad: A light couscous salad, with ingredients like roasted red peppers, chickpeas, and fresh herbs, complements the meatballs beautifully.

Roasted Potatoes: Herb-roasted potatoes can be a hearty and delicious side that pairs well with the savory meatballs.

Garlic Bread: Warm garlic bread is perfect for soaking up any sauce and adds a comforting element to the meal.

Red Wine: A glass of red wine, like a Merlot or Shiraz, can enhance the flavors of the meatballs and make the meal more special.

Lemon Wedges: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the meatballs can add a bright and zesty flavor.

Fresh Herbs: Garnishing the dish with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro adds a burst of freshness and color.

Try these favorite sides with your meatballs:

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Cous Cous Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

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Swedish porcupine meatballs served in a white bowl with green onions.
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Cous Cous Porcupine Meatballs

Succulent beef porcupine meatballs in creamy sauce over a bed of hearty pasta is an easy delicious weeknight dinner!
Course Beef
Cuisine Italian
Keyword beef, cous cous, cream sauce, meat balls
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 514kcal
Author Courtney ODell

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lb beef ground
  • 1 white onion diced very fine
  • 1 egg large
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup cous cous pearled cous cous
  • 2 cups homemade condensed mushroom soup
  • green onion diced, to garnish
  • 1 package egg noodles thawed (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • In a large bowl, add meat, egg, diced onion, salt, pepper, and cous cous.
  • Mix well with your hands until mixture is evenly combined.
  • Roll into 2″ tightly packed meatballs (I like mine larger, but make the size you prefer)
  • Place in large casserole dish or large lasagne pan.
  • Pour condensed soup mixture over meatballs.
  • Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
  • If serving over egg noodles, add thawed noodles into casserole dish and mix.
  • Continue baking for 15-20 minutes until noodles are soft and meatballs are cooked through.
  • Plate and garnish with fresh green onions.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 514kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 809mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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1 Comment

  1. Arneta says:

    Thanks for the recipe for using coucous in porcupine meat balls instead of rice. I’m short on rice today but long on coucous. Its good to hear from someone who has already made the dish! Thanks again and have a great day.
    Arneta