First you will want to make the meat and sauce mixture the day before, or very early in the morning the day you make them, since it has to slow cook for 6-8 hours.
Meat and sauce mixture:
4 1/2 lbs cubed pork roast
(2) 12 oz cans tomato paste
3 cans water
1 onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
I cook the meat all day, in the crock pot of course!
Start by browning the meat.
You aren't really cooking it, only browning the outsides. Then add it to an oiled crock pot.
Saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil.
Add the tomato paste and the water.
Next the oregano, basil, sugar, and salt. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
Pour it over the meat in the crock pot, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.
Then I cooled the mixture and put it in the fridge to wait for the next day when the rest of the assembly crew would arrive.
During the meat ball making process you'll need:
1 lb genoa salami
1 cup romano cheese
Grind the meat adding the salami a little at a time. You should scoop the meat out of the sauce, not pour it in, you want a little sauce in there, but not too much or the meat balls will be too wet, and sauce will fly all over the kitchen! But save the sauce, there will be a use for it later. Once all the meat is ground add the romano cheese and mix well.
The meat grinding and meat balling is usually my husband's job. The original family recipe has you hand tear the meat, but that takes forever. We bought a meat grinder attachment for my kitchen aid mixer, and only use it to make rice balls, but it is so worth it!
While you are grinding the meat, start making the rice. For the rice mixture you will need:
14 cups dry rice (yes I said 14!)
28 cups water
3 1/2 cups romano cheese
The original recipe we had just started with 2 lbs of rice and told you to keep making more, til you ran out of meat balls. In the past someone has always gone to the store half way through to buy more rice. And eggs. And usually wine. This year we were taking no chances, since we live in the country now, the nearest store is 20 minutes away. So we bought a super big bag of rice. That small brown ball on the counter next to it is a kiwi fruit (for scale)
When cooking the rice cook 2 dry cups of rice in 4 cups of water at a time. Cover and cook til the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes)
While you are waiting for the rice you can get your other cooking stations prepared. Here is the "Egg and Bread Crumb Station", manned by my brother Tim. For this station you will need 16 additional eggs for dipping the rice balls in and 1 large container of Italian bread crumbs.
And the "Fry Station", manned by my dad.
When the rice is finished pour into a bowl to cool, if you spread it out it cools a little quicker. (Now that the rice cooking pan is free, start another batch immediately! The main thing that slows us down is waiting for more rice. We have tried bigger batches at a time, but somehow the ratio gets thrown off.)
Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of romano cheese and stir well.
Tim making the second batch of rice. (as soon as the rice cooking pot is free!)
Almost time to start.
Bubba wanted that kiwi that posed with the bag of rice earlier in the post.
One final station before we start.
The Rice Station, manned by my mom and I. One very important part of the Rice Station is the bowl of cold water. Somehow dipping your hands in the cold water before touching the rice mixture keeps it from sticking to your hands as much, and without it, making a rice ball is next to impossible.
With Bubba fed, and occupied, now we are ready to start!
First make a meat ball, about golf ball sized.
Next The Rice Station:
Wet your hands in the cold water.
Spread a layer of rice in your palm.
Add the meat ball.
Cover with more rice.
Smooth into a ball.
On to The Egg and Bread Crumb Station:
Dip the rice ball in beaten eggs.
Then roll in bread crumbs.
And finally The Fry Station:
Fry til golden brown in peanut oil.
Bubba set up his own station while we cooked.
After 5-ish hours we finished.
The mother load! I think we had about 8 dozen.
The leftover sauce the meat cooked in that I told you to save can be reheated, and is delicious poured over the rice ball.
As of yet Bubba has not tried a rice ball, but he has plenty of chances. The freezer is filled with them!