Italian Porcupine Meatballs

Sunday, June 5, 2022
Our family recipe for this vintage 1960s version of Italian Porcupine Meatballs is super easy to make and a saucy meatball we grew up on.

These are one of the most economical family meals and were very popular during the great depression when it was first discovered to make ground beef go further to feed a large family.

Our recipe is a one-pan casserole basically an Italian meatball mixture with added rice taking the place of breadcrumbs.

Simmered in a homemade delectable tomato sauce,(or your favorite bottled sauce in a pinch) these are baked to perfection for an in-one-pan meal.

If you love the original versions sometimes that add onions, peppers, mushrooms, leftover cooked long grain rice (instead of instant), and more like meatloaf, ours isn't anything like that, but feel free to adapt this any way you like.

If you enjoy a good Italian meatball, this may be a new favorite way to make a delicious casserole style.

Also, we love topping these with some provolone or mozzarella cheese to really make a fancy spicy meatball, and believe me even with rice they're great in a sandwich if you have leftovers.

Do check out the additions below to change make several styles of these porcupine meatballs and adapt away.

This recipe can be doubled to accommodate the size of your family.

Serving them is super easy, plain is in a bowl with a big chunk of hard Italian bread, over mashed potatoes, some steamed rice, or noodles either way these are delicious!

Scroll down to the end for this printable recipe.


this is a meatball in sauce with rice





porcupine meatballs with rice and sauce


Easy Step By Step

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or see below for another cooking method
  2. Prepare a baking casserole pan with cooking oil spray
  3. Make the homemade sauce recipe first or use your favorite store-bought brands
  4. Mix the meatball and rice mixture
  5. Shape the meatballs and add them to the prepared pan
  6. Pour the sauce over the top and garnish with grated cheese and some fresh basil
  7. Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy!


porcupine meatballs casserole


Additions


  • Substitute chicken or turkey for ground beef
  • Add chopped peppers to the sauce
  • Add onions to the sauce
  • Add mushrooms
  • Serve these over a bed of rice or noodles
  • Serve over mashed potatoes
  • Use a bottled sauce in a pinch (meat sauce or marinara)
  • After baking add shredded provolone or mozzarella on the top and place back in the oven until melted


procupine meatballs with sauce and grated cheese


Ingredients You Will Need 

scroll down to the recipe card for exact measurements


  • ground beef, chicken, or turkey
  • egg, beaten
  • minced garlic
  • fresh basil and fresh parsley
  • instant rice or cooked rice you may have leftover
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, 
  • granulated garlic powder
  • homemade recipe or store-bought marinara sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese


step by step how to make porcupine meatball collage


Cooking Methods


  • Place the meatballs in a cast-iron skillet add the meatballs and sauce and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Using the slow cooker is perfect for entertaining to keep them warm on high for 4 hours.
  • Instant pot add the meatballs single do not crowd add the sauce and pressure cook for 12 minutes


grated cheese on top of a casserole of meatballs with rice


Tips

  • use an ice cream scoop for uniform sized meatballs
  • add red pepper flakes for heat
  • substitute chicken or turkey for ground beef
  • brown instant rice can be substituted or leftover cooked regular rice
  • make mini meatballs for an appetizer and add them to the slow cooker for entertaining
  • meatballs will freeze well in food storage for up to 3 months thaw and reheat


raw porcupine meatballs using an ice cream scoop to size them


More Recipes We Love



Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

Chicken Bacon Spinach Pasta

Chili Mac

Pin for Later


this is a pin for later on how to make Italian style porcupine meatballs


Economical Meals and Depression Foods


Through the years mom and grandma were just the best at repurposing leftovers and stretching a meal.


We all loved all the inexpensive meals they prepared and this is one that we certainly never could get enough of and all loved from one generation to another.


Preparing meals that can be turned into something totally different can be very inexpensive if you happen to have leftover meatballs,  for instance, making Mom's Spanish Rice with leftover porcupine meatballs by just crushing them and adding peppers and onions.


If you happen to have any of these meatballs they're terrific the next day as a filling for  Air Fried Taco or an Easy Taco Soup so just invent a new meal like used to do and stretch that budget deliciously.



Italian Porcupine Meatballs

Italian Porcupine Meatballs

Yield: 12
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 40 Min
This is an easy vintage meatball recipe with added rice to beef instead of breadcrumbs baked in Italian sauce. and cheese on top.

Ingredients

  • Make enough for your family here is a basic recipe and can be doubled
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 cup of instant rice or used cooked rice you may have leftover
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced Italian fresh leaf parsley fresh or dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg (if you prefer firmer meatballs add two eggs per pound)
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • Sauce
  • 1 28 ounces can of whole tomatoes put through a food processor or use crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped and whole fresh leaves for the top while baking
  • salt pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine or water

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan add the olive oil and garlic and saute for 2 minutes
  2. Add the tomatoes and ingredients.
  3. Simmer the sauce ingredients for around 15 minutes on low heat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Oil spray a baking pan deep enough to accommodate the sauce and meatballs.
  6. Note: I made 12 meatballs and fit them in a 9 x 9 baking dish.
  7. In the meantime mix all the ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl.
  8. Use an ice cream scoop (for uniform same size meatballs) or roll by hand to make meatballs.
  9. Place in the oil-sprayed baking pan.
  10. Pour the sauce over the top and garnish with grated cheese and fresh basil.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
  12. Serve garnished with more grated cheese and fresh parsley or basil.
  13. Note: melted shredded mozzarella is also an option we like after these are cooked add the cheese and place back in the oven just until it melts

Notes

Additions

  • Substitute chicken or turkey for ground beef
  • Add chopped peppers to the sauce
  • Add onions to the sauce
  • Add mushrooms
  • Serve these over a bed of rice or noodles
  • Serve over mashed potatoes
  • Use a bottled sauce in a pinch
  • After baking add shredded provolone or mozzarella on the top and place back in the oven until melted


Cooking Methods

  • Place the meatballs in a cast-iron skillet add the meatballs and sauce and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Using the slow cooker is perfect for entertaining to keep them warm on high for 4 hours.
  • Instant pot add the meatballs single do not crowd add the sauce and pressure cook for 12 minutes


Nutrition Facts

Calories

224.94

Fat (grams)

12.26

Sat. Fat (grams)

3.91

Carbs (grams)

18.04

Fiber (grams)

1.52

Net carbs

16.52

Sugar (grams)

3.04

Protein (grams)

9.94

Sodium (milligrams)

177.63

Cholesterol (grams)

42.65
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Italian, American



Pin for Later


this is a pin for later on how to make Italian style porcupine meatballs




More Italian Recipes We Love


Homemade Tortellini

Homemade Cavatelli Pasta

Mom's Lasagna

Homemade Orecchiette Pasta



porcupine meatballs with rice and sauce


9 comments

  1. I love meatballs and this dish looks delicious - I especially like that you don't have to fry the meatballs first. For some reason we only have meatballs on special occasions and always with pasta so we'll have to try just meatballs.

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  2. This looks like a must try recipe

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  3. A great idea of using rice to mix with the ground meat to make the meatballs. They look very saucy and delicious.

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  4. This was our first time making porcupine meatballs. I'd heard about them but never tried them before. Thanks for the recipe!

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  5. I just love this and its was a big hit with everyone. And this was such a pleasing experience!

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  6. Oh yum! This is total comfort food. I am definitely going to try this next week.

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  7. Love meatballs and this one looks fantastic. A must try recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Bravissima, queste sono molto sfiziose!!!!

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  9. I love this idea for stretching meat! Thank you for a delicious recipe that the whole family loved

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Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia