Porcupine Meatballs

Oven Baked Porcupine Meatballs 
This is a variation on an old recipe originally from my "Red & White Checked" Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  It's been a family favorite since my childhood, and called "porcupine" meatballs because the rice pokes out of them like little quills.  They are on the order of the meat and rice filling used in stuffed vegetables such as cabbage and peppers.

The original recipe is for one pound of ground beef, and only one can of tomato soup. They are rolled into small balls and simmered on the stove top.  My mom has always baked the in the oven, and I continue to as well, but have increased the amount of beef and sauce to feed the hearty appetites of several adults.

Now I can fill a pan with 20 decent sized meatballs with plenty of sauce. Of course, we don't mind if we have leftovers either.

Once I was out of tomato soup and tomato sauce, and all I had on hand was a can of stewed tomatoes, so I tried to puree them and use them for the sauce. The flavor was delicious, but I also missed the sweetness of the tomato soup version I grew up with, so after some experimenting, I began making the sauce by combining both.  The celery and seasonings added to canned stewed tomatoes add lots of flavor, and makes a bit more savory sauce then tomato soup alone.

If I don't have stewed tomatoes, I just use the traditional tomato soup, Worcesteshire sauce and water called for in the original recipe, only doubling the amounts for the larger amount of meatballs. This makes a sweeter sauce.

Oven 350
9x13 Baking Dish
45 Minutes

1 1/2 lbs. Ground Beef
1/3 C. Rice, Uncooked
1 Egg
1 Onion, Diced Small
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 Can Condensed Tomato Soup
1 Can Stewed Tomatoes/Or Additional Can Tomato Soup
2 tsp. Worcesteshire Sauce
1/2 C. Water

Mix 1/3 C. uncooked rice, one whole egg and 1/4 C. of the tomato soup, stirring until egg is slightly beaten. Set aside while chopping onions so that rice will slightly soften.
Add ground beef, diced onion, salt and pepper to the rice mixture and combine.
Portion into 20 pieces, roll into balls and place in a 9x13 pan.
Blend stewed tomatoes, remaining tomato soup, 2 tsp. Worcesteshire sauce and 1/2 C. water.
Pour sauce over all the meatballs.
Bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

1. You can blend the tomatoes with the other sauce ingredients in a blender, food processor, use an immersion blender, mash lightly with a potato masher, or crush between your fingers. You can make the sauce smooth or chunky.

2. You can use a more traditional recipe by eliminating the stewed tomatoes and using an additional can of tomato soup, increasing water to 1 cup.

3. The version with two cans of tomato soup is quicker and easier, just stir together and pour over meatballs, no blending required.

4. To get 20 meatballs, I first divide the meat mixture into fourths, divide each fourth into 5 portions, then gently roll into balls.
The 1/3 C. rice, 1/4 C. tomato soup and 1 egg blended together. 

Two of the four divided portions remaining. 

Twenty approximately even portions. 

The blended sauce.

Gently rolled into balls and covered in sauce.

The sauce cooks down a bit and the meatballs brown up nicely. 

The left meatball is turned upside down to show
 how the  rice pokes out like porcupine quills. 

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