Tagged: paprika

Black Rice I – with Spicy Meatballs

There had been no significant plans to do anything like this before I started it. To be honest, I was expecting us to be eating leftover soup… but then, a little bit of inspiration and cupboard-surfing later, we had a full on meal to eat.

Down at the allotment, a couple of days before, we’d rescued the last of the leeks – and whilst they were past their prime, they were still perfectly edible. Ideal for soup. We also had some potatoes that were also getting a little bit beyond themselves. Ideal for soup, too. So a ‘Vichysoise’ was planned.

I had a fresh chicken stock I’d made (see Mugsie’s article – the only thing different was I threw in 4 garlic cloves) and the potatoes and leeks. Chop, season, chuck together and cook. Job done.

Vichysoise is just ‘Leek & Potato’ soup, but served cold – ideal for summers. It was raining when we had it, so it stayed hot, with some leftover for the next day.

So what has any of this got to do with black rice? Well, I’ll tell you…

The next evening, I looked at the soup and realised two things. Firstly, there wasn’t really enough for two as a meal, and second, the starches had broken down overnight and left a soup you could almost eat with a knife and fork. It would liquefy a little when warmed through but I looked at it and thought, why couldn’t I use this as a sauce – it was tasty, savoury and already there and waiting.

Next started the search for things to put with it. In a cupboard I found a bag of black rice that I had picked up a few months ago the last time I visited a Chinese supermarket. I’d never eaten it or cooked with it before which was the main reason I’d bought it… and then I’d never got around to doing anything with it. I thought that the colours of the two things would be perfect… black rice and white sauce (almost) – it would be like McCartney & Wonder all over again.

I also had a pack of lean beef mince that I’d bought to make meatballs with at some point – ok, it could be a bit wierd… but there was the inspiration behind this next recipe.

Black Rice with Spicy Meatballs and Savoury Sauce.


Lean beef mince – 1 pack
Black Rice – 1 cup
Onion – 1 finely chopped
Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese – 1 large handful, finely grated
Garlic Powder – a hefty spoonful
Ground Black Pepper – a hefty spoonful
Paprika (HOT/PICANTE) – 2 hefty spoonful
Breadcrumbs – 2 handfuls
Smoked Salt – a hefty spoonful
Vegetable Stock
and, of course, you pre-prepared ‘sauce’

There weren’t any cooking instructions on the back of the rice packet, so I started with a basic – 1 cup of rice/2 cups of water absorption method. But when I put a cup of rice into the pan, it didn’t really look like that much, and when I tipped out the rest of the pack, it came to 2 cups of dry rice in total. OK, so there might be a bit left over but better that than starve… right?

This was a tactical error!! It needed more water in the cooking process. Probably ending up with something nearer a 4:1 ratio. And I ended up with enough rice to resurface my driveway. We definitely weren’t going to starve!

Curious stuff this black rice. When it’s done, it is very much a ‘sticky’ rice. Which isn’t a bad thing. It has a nutty flavour and when it is cooking in the pan it looks like you are simmering up a bowl of crude oil! But just the colour alone adds a great visual impact to the plate – although, as you will see later, my presentation isn’t going to win any prizes (but definitely a couple for taste!)

To make the meat balls you basically combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and thoroughly squish it together with your hands. This is one of those jobs that I really enjoy in the kitchen – you get messy and really hands on. You shouldn’t need anything other than the breadcrumbs to bind the mixture together and when it is mixed well, form it into balls and set to one side. [I actually made mine a bit more long than round, so maybe they should be called something a bit different like ‘oblongalls’?]

So your rice is nearly cooked.

Your meat just needs browning off in a frying pan – 5 mins each side.

Warm your sauce through, drain the rice and your ready to serve. A final touch of luxury is to just stir a little salted butter through the rice to give it a wonderful glaze.

Plate up – hopefully a little more artistically than I did and tuck in. (Apologies for the gratuitous tomatoes and basil leaf – they were purely added for a splash of colour and added nothing to the dish whatsoever!)


The meatballs and black rice went together really well, but the real revelation was using the soup as a sauce. It was just the right amount of richness and intensity of flavour to bring the other ingredients together.



Watch out for Black Rice II, the sequel… I told you I made too much of the bloody stuff!

Belly Pork II – Spicy, Sticky, Saucy!

Belly pork is such a versatile cut of meat and this is another way to make the most of it – and, as an added bonus, you can use the recipe to make fabulous ribs… and given that BBQ season is just around the corner (honest!), you’re getting a BOGOF special here!

Belly Pork – slices
Olive Oil
Large Onion – sliced
Cayenne Pepper
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed

Ideally, you’ll cook this in a large frying pan or skillet that has a lid.

It is a very simple dish to get on the go, and it doesn’t take a lot of looking after.

Put a little bit of oil in the pan and place it on quite a high heat.

Lay out the pork slices on a plate and sprinkle a little paprika over the top of them.

By now, your oil will be hot, so carefully place the pork slices into the hot pan (watch out, it might spit a bit!) paprika’d side down. Then sprinkle a little more paprika over the top of them.

You want to be frying the pork on this high heat for about 2 minutes per side. They should have got a little bit of colour on them in this time.

While the meat is cooking, slice the onion (chop it in half first so you’re basically getting little semi-circles of onion).

Once the meat has browned a little, turn the heat down to medium and throw in the onions. Stir them around so that they are touching the pan and let them soften down for a couple of minutes.

Add the garlic and mix it in.

Add the rest of the spices – equal amounts of the paprika and black pepper, and use the cayenne to make it as hot as you like – I added about 1/2 as much as the other two spices (approx 1 tablespoon to 1/2 tablespoon ‘ish!).

Using the same rough measure add 2-3 spoons of honey, a good sprinkle of salt and enough stock to cover the pork.

Mix everything around so that it melts and blends together.

Turn the heat down so that it stays simmering and put the lid of the pan on.

It’ll take about 45 minutes to cook – in this time, turn the meat a couple of times and just leave it simmering.

I served this with homemade potato wedges (recipe coming soon) and a green salad, so whilst the meat was cooking I sorted that out. It would also go well with rice or cous cous.

About ten minutes from the end, take the lid off the pan and turn the heat up so that the liquid starts to boil vigourously. You want to reduce the liquid in the pan so that it becomes sticky and jammy – just be careful not to burn it.

Then serve it with your chosen bits and pieces. You’ll be tempted to just pick the meat up with your fingers… this is a sure sign that the next time you try this recipe, you should do it with some good, big and meaty pork ribs!!!

Much as it pains me to say it, this really is finger-licking good!!