As a child, one of my favorite meals was Porcupine Meatballs. Remember those? After being cooked, the rice inside the meatballs would poke out like soft, mini-quills.
I haven’t had this dish for years, so when I came upon this version of the old Betty Crocker recipe, it was like bumping into a childhood friend.
The recipe came out of the Great Depression, when rice was cheap and meat was costly. Women would mix the rice with beef to make the meal go a bit further. By the time I was a young housewife, the recipe was out of vogue, so I didn’t make it very often. By then it was more popular to smother everything with a can of Campbell’s soup.
Porcupine Meatballs still make a good work day meal, because it’s quick, kids enjoy it, and you’re likely to have all the ingredients on hand. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it on your grandkids. Or cook it for a bit of kitchen nostalgia on Throwback Thursday.
I have this dim recollection of my mother cooking the meatballs in the pressure cooker, but the recipe below is a stove top version. Here’s an heirloom, handwritten version using tomato soup rather than sauce. Whichever you use, don’t even think of putting it on a plate without mashed potatoes!
- 1/2 cup uncooked, long grain rice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. celery salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 can (15-oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. In a large skillet, brown meatballs in oil; drain. Combine tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; pour over meatballs. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Yield: 4-6 servings