Porcupine Meatballs

Well, just to let you know there is no actual exotic meat in this dish, just plain freshly ground lean beef. I chose this as a retro food 1st because I know I have been making & actually enjoying them for more years than I care to admit. Before that, I was fed these meatballs or a version of them by the cooks in my family. When I first asked about the curious name, I was told it was because the rice grains resemble little porcupine quills! True? I don't know. It is a good story. I am not sure of the origin of the recipe (there are many variations--most more complicated than mine--one is found in my very retro 1967 edition of The Joy of Cooking-p.430). The story of the original recipe as I heard it was that it was devised when pressure cookers became popular way back when and the meatballs could be made quickly. Those of you who are older, probably remember all of the accompanying horror stories of pressure cookers. When I was growing up every kitchen had one, yet I never (fortunately) witnessed any of the awful accidents told by the cooks of the day. Probably a heartfelt warning to keep children away from the hot stove.

Please note the retro dish which contains the meatballs. This is the pattern I chose to live with back in the early 70's and keep them around for old time's sake. Yes, I am very sentimental. (I guess I am a retro relic myself). The recipe for this retro dish is easy and is still a regular on our menu. You can change it to your liking. Spice it up with hot sauce or pepper flakes or google a more complicated version, but this is something that always comes away with an A+ rating, especially served with (don't cringe) instant mashed potatoes, & Le Suere Baby Peas.

I Can Campbells Tomato Soup (10 3/4 ounce size)
2 Soup Cans of Water
1/4 Cup Uncooked Rice (does not need to be instant, but you can use it)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds good ground beef
Finely Chopped onion (about 1/3 Cup)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix meat, rice, onion, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Form ping pong ball sized meatballs (or larger if you are my DH and don't want to take the time to make smaller ones). This will make up to 2 dozen. In a large pan mix soup & water over low heat. Gently add meatballs to the soup. Keep the heat low & watch since the soup and any stray rice will want to stick to the bottom of the pan. When you stir, stir gently. The mixture will seem watery, but after about 1 1/2 hours of cooking it thickens nicely, the rice is cooked and you have a wonderful warm bunch of comfort food.

Thank you to Laura Rebecca's Kitchen for hosting this fun event. Can't wait to see & try the other contributions.
You can visit her site @ http://laurarebeccaskitchen.blogspot.com


Anonymous said…

I love it! I especially love your assurance that there's no "exotic meat" in this dish.

Great post and great entry!
Fran said…
Thanks Ivonne! I should have posted a picture of what is in the background--one of my Grandmother's handmade "retro" tea towels.
Laura Rebecca said…
Thank you for your contribution, Fran! Porcupine meatballs does, indeed, seem retro!
Lis said…
This sounds quite good, Fran.. I love anything having to do with meatballs teee! I really like the name of the recipe as well and I look forward to making these - I think they'd be perfect for the buffet we serve at our annual clambake.. thank you for sharing :D
Alanna Kellogg said…
Oh gosh - I so remember my Mom making these! I think they even made the family cookbook a couple of years ago. Perfect pick!
Anonymous said…
My mother still makes porcupine meatballs. I grew up on them! They were a little more elaborate than this... she uses canned tomatoes and adds green pepper and onions to it. She uses the meat and rice to stuff green peppers, makes purcupines with the leftover meat, and cooks it all in a big pot on the stove. That's the way my grandfather did it. :-)
Anonymous said…
Oh, my! Rice and meatballs! or rice in meatballs... looks so juicy. Yum yum yum!
Anonymous said…
The recipe we used called for half the can of soup to be mixed with beef and other ingredients, plus there are supposed to be parsley flakes in there
Anonymous said…
Gee! I thought I was the only one sentimental enough to make these porcupine meatballs exactly the way it was written in the original recipe that came with the pressure cooker. My mother always made them in the pressure cooker--they took no time at all--maybe 15 minutes at most, and the original recipe called for "River rice", which is uncooked. I use Campbell's Tomato soup and water to make the sauce, and we always have it with mashed potatoes and buttered string beans.

Popular Posts