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Having put foot in mouth and finger to keyboard I herby offer one of many recipes for stretching the food dollar.
I am not going to give exact measurements just ratios because the same recipe can be used whether you have one pound of ground beef or five pounds.
The whole concept behind this kind of recipe is to make a small quantity feed a large number of people.
A quarter or half pound of ground red meat might make one meal for one person but could just as well feed four people when served right.
Take the available quantity of ground meat and place it in the mixing bowl you intend to use. Use a knife to divide the quantity into quarters. Imagine cutting a pie into four equal pieces.
Lift out one section. This is only to give you a convenient way to judge the ratio of filler and meat.
Fill the cavity with either rolled oats or crushed soup crackers plus two table spoons of flour. Also put in at least one egg but two is better. The eggs act as a binder when you blend this whole mixture together. If you do not have an egg you could use a cup of whole milk but don’t use skim milk. It’s too watery and will not be a good binder.
While this is being done you should be boiling potatoes or cooking rice that will be the bulk filler of the meal.
If you have it available cut up half or a whole onion into small diced pieces.. the smaller the better. Add this to the mix.
You can also add salt and peper to suit. Go easy until you have tried this a few times.
Mix the ground meat and other stuff together until it is a homogenous mix. The milk or eggs will give the mixture a slick feel and binds it together. Now form the meat into meat balls about as large as golf balls but never more than a tennis ball. That is too big.
Flatten these slightly as you place them on the heated pan. Use margarine or butter to lubricate the pan so the meat balls do not stick. Squish the paties so they are approximately ¾” or 1” thick. Any fatter than that and the meat will over cook Fry the meat patties until the exterior is nicely browned. The interior will be cooked right through but not so much as to become hardened. The outside will be slightly crisp where browned much like a hamburger patty.
Depending on how many you are serving you can either serve the meat patties with whole potatoes or you can make mashed potatoes. Adding a bit of butter and milk makes the mashed potatoes creamy and bulks it out a bit more. If you have parsley or chives from a garden this adds a bit of extra flavor.
Gravy can be included but is not essential if the budget is tight.
You have several options. Powdered gravy can be found in the dollar stores and super markets or you can make it from scratch using mushroom soup as the stock base.
The meat balls also taste good cold when sliced up and served on rye bread. Garnish with sliced pickles or beets..