Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

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Photography Credit: Coco Morante

Don’t worry – these meatballs aren’t actually made out of porcupines! The name refers to the grains of rice that get mixed in with the meatballs and poke out as they simmer, resembling spines on a porcupine.

With rice and meat all in one dish, you just need a vegetable side to complete the meal.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine MeatballsThis recipe is an update on a classic 1970s Betty Crocker dish, Oven Porcupines. The original version is baked in the oven for an hour, but my recipe is made in an electric pressure cooker (I’ve included stovetop instructions, too).

These pressure cooker meatballs are done in about half the time of the original, making it perfect for a midweek meal.

If you’re new to pressure cooking, an electric, programmable model is a great place to start. There are a few well-rated brands on the market. I use the 6-quart Instant Pot IP-DUO60 most of the time, which is a good size if you’re serving 4 to 6 people. We’re a household of two and we like having leftovers, so this size works out well for us.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine MeatballsMy favorite way to serve these porcupine meatballs is with mixed steamed vegetables on the side. You know that classic frozen mix of carrots, corn, peas, green beans and lima beans? I microwave a big bowl of them while the meatballs are cooking, so everything is done at the same time.

I also like to serve these meatballs on top of spiralized zucchini noodles, or with riced cauliflower. For a retro dinner a la Betty Crocker, serve them with iceberg wedge salads and steamed, buttered green beans.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (makes about 1 dozen meatballs)

Stovetop Instructions: Sauté half of the onions and garlic in oil in a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce, water, and Worcestershire sauce, increasing the water to one full cup. While the sauce is coming up to a simmer, make the meatballs. Drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (reserve half)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (reserve half)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1/2 cup long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Special Equipment:

Method

1 Sauté the onion and garlic: Select the “Sauté” program on your pressure cooker and add the oil to the pot. (If you are using a stovetop pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat.) Add half of the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are softened and translucent, about five minutes.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

2 Stir in the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Let this warm until it comes to a simmer.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

3 Make the meatballs: While tomato sauce is coming up to a simmer, make the meatballs. In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, rice, salt, pepper, and the rest of the chopped onions and garlic. Roll into ping-pong ball-sized meatballs (1 1/2 inches or so).

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

4 Cook the meatballs: Gently place the meatballs in to the pot a single layer. Spoon a little bit of sauce over the top of each one.

Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “Manual” program, then set the time to 15 minutes at high pressure. (For stovetop pressure cookers, cook at high pressure for 12 minutes.)

It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the actual cooking will begin. Total time from the time you seal the pressure cooker to the finished dish is about 25 minutes.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

5 To serve: You can either perform a quick pressure release by moving the vent from “Sealing” to “Venting,” or you can let the pot depressurize naturally (this takes about 20 minutes), then open it when you’re ready to serve the meatballs. (For stovetop pressure cookers, perform a quick pressure release.)

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

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Coco Morante

A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

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Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

Showing 4 of 31 Comments

  • Candace

    Could not get my pot to seal even after adding extra liquid. Reset my pot three times and it still did not pressurize. Basically just boiled my meatballs.

  • JOSE NALDRIX D. RIVERA

    Wow. Looks delicious. I will recommend this recipe to my wife.

  • Jenny

    Do you think this recipe could be doubled? I worry about over filling my pressure cooker. I’m new to using a pressure cooker. I feed a large crew here and would need to double the recipe. Thank you, I would greatly appreciate the assistance.

  • Patty

    Do you think brown rice would be cooked enough using the same time/method? Or should I par boil it before I roll them into the meatballs? Thank you.

  • tumble Weed

    These are abondigas, my mom made them often. Mother-in-law called them porcupine balls, she used different spices. I made them last night. yummy

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