When I told my family we were having porcupine meatballs for dinner I’m fairly certain they envisioned something different than I did. For me the thought of these meatballs is something linked very closely to my childhood. This was one of the early dishes which I learned to make and was my introduction to the device known as the pressure cooker. This isn’t to say that you MUST use a pressure cooker, as these meatballs can be made beautifully with a long slow cook (about 1.5-2 hours), but we often ended up deciding we wanted meatballs about 30 minutes before dinner, which meant needing a faster way to work.
A pressure cooker is a marvelous heavy duty pan which is built to hold heat well and to go through the process of heating and cooling quickly. It traps moisture and steam until a certain pressure is attained, taking the temperatures inside much higher than could be reached without the cooker while keeping the food moist. This is an excellent way to prepare meats with a lot of bone or connective tissue to get a moist, tender result. For a lot of home chefs the pressure cooker is related to far too many tales of exploding crockery and danger and is avoided, but, trust me, used according to manufacturer’s recommendations they are wonderful. As well these thick pans are great for preparing sauces which scorch easily, such as white sauce, and my 3 quart pressure cooker is about the best candy pot in my arsenal as it heats so evenly.
Soo…moving back to the recipe, this is a simple meatball with a tomato soup sauce which goes well with rice, pasta or, my favorite, mashed potatoes. We served it with a combination of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with green beans on the side. Almost like a deconstructed shepherd pie. For me this will always be comfort food and remind me of those first days cooking while standing on a chair. How else do you reach the stove when you’re young and short?
Porcupine Meat Balls
From the Cornaby Family cookbook with a few modifications
1 1/2 lb ground beef (or combination of ground beef and ground turkey)
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbl minced onion
1 Tbl Ultra Gel
1 egg (or 1/4 cup water)
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
Combine meat, rice, spices, onion and Ultra Gel. Shape into small balls. Heat soup and water in heavy pan or pressure cooker. Add meat balls. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or pressure under 15 lbs pressure for 10 minutes. Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.