Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs

Like a lot of amateur home cooks, I really enjoy reading cook books, especially if I like the author (Michael Ruhlman), have had good success in the past (Jamie Oliver), or like the “angle” of their cook books (Dinner: A Love Story).

One of the books I read recently, Dinner: A Love Story, caught my attention through a blog I was reading (can’t honestly remember). I picked it up for my iPad and began to read the story of a man and woman who met, fell in love, got married, and are raising children and cooking along the way. The book shares “his” and “her” recipes, food they ate when dating, newly wed, and now as their lives and diet needs have changed by raising children in the 21st century.  The book itself is really well written, is full of joy and humor, and is full of fun pictures of food journals (which I also have of course), various cooking moments throughout their lives, corkboard recipes, notes in the margins of other books, and so on. It really feels like this couple has invited us into their kitchen saying, “pull up a stool, let me make you a drink and watch us work our jobs, our kids, and our lives for a few days…”  I did and have grabbed several of the recipes they share and will share over the next few weeks as I try them out on the boys and friends and family that come through our home.


Here is the first…have made them twice and they were a hit for the boys, and then again when a couple of my cousins were over.  The reason they are called “porcupine meatballs” is as the meat renders its fat, the rice pokes out of the meatballs like little quills.

Porcupine Meatballs


  • 1 pound of ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped green peppers
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire


  1. Combine uncooked beef, rice, onion, green peppers, salt and garlic in a large bowl. Shape into small balls, about 1 inch wide.
  2. Whisk together rest of ingredients in a deep skillet and bring to a simmer. Drop meatballs and cover tightly. Simmer for 30 minutes, flipping over about half way through.
  3. Remove cloves before serving.

It is really a fun dish. Definitely serve with a salad, ideally with a dressing that has some nice acid to it as these feel a little rich and lightly sweet.

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4 thoughts on “Porcupine Meatballs”

  • John?I feel that I can call you John.I’ve just bought a new laoptp, pc (windows 8 is like a million dollars)But I’ve decided that the first thing I would see on the net , would be one of your mouthwatering videos.Yes, that is how I think about you.I owe you a big fat hug for all this goodness.Thank you John, and like they say in Sweden: ainjeuy (made up )

  • mamma che fame! (I had to say it in Italian because it betetr transmits immediacy :D)Do you know that one of the most known and oldest typical recipes of my hometown is meatballs just like these? The only difference is that women use to put them in tomato sauce “ragout” and put them on pasta on Sunday lunches. With tons of grated parmesan cheese on top! 🙂

  • ~ I LOVE Chef Johns voice- reminds me of B.O.B.’ from Monsters vs. Aliens (Seth Rogen) I keep wantiig for Chef John to make his Jello Girlfriend who’s lime-green and has 14 little chunks of pineapple inside her

    • hello! I found your blog via pinterest, and I just watend to send you a compliment for your lovely artwork!Greetings from Kiel and “ahoi”!Meike

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