These porcupine meatballs are an old-fashioned favorite. The seasoned beef and rice meatballs and the simple 3-ingredient tomato sauce are combined and baked to perfection. Or use the stovetop and simmer the meatballs over low heat.
The meatballs are similar to a cabbage roll filling without the cabbage.
Another attractive thing about these meatballs is that they don't have to be browned on the stovetop first. Just mix, shape the meatballs, and simmer them in the oven or on the stovetop. Since the meatballs aren't baked or browned first, make sure to use lean ground beef to avoid excess fat in the sauce. If you do use fattier ground meat, you might want to brown them before you combine them with the tomato sauce.
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (lean)
- 2/3 cup long-grain white rice (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (or Cajun seasoning)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Optional: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if cooking on the stovetop)
- For the Sauce:
- 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (or two 8-ounce cans)
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
In the Oven
- Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas 4).
- In a large bowl combine the ground beef with the rice, 1/2 cup of water, chopped onion, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
- Shape the ground beef mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Use a tablespoon or small cookie scoop to help make them uniform in size. Or weigh them as you shape them.
- Place the porcupine meatballs in an ungreased 2-quart shallow baking dish.
- Make the sauce by mixing together the tomato sauce, 1 cup water, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the porcupine meatballs.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake the meatballs in the preheated oven for 55 minutes.
- Uncover and bake the meatballs 15 to 20 minutes longer.
On the Stovetop
- Add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large deep skillet over medium heat.
- Add the shaped meatballs and cook, turning, until the meatballs are evenly browned. Drain and discard the drippings.
- Add the tomato sauce, 1 cup of water, and the Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat to low and cover the pan. Continue cooking for about 45 minutes. Check occasionally and add water, if necessary.
Tips and Variations
- Add an egg to the meatball mixture and use milk instead of water.
- For a richer and chunkier sauce, replace the tomato sauce and water with a (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes and a (10 3/4 oz) can of condensed tomato soup. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little water to thin it.