Posted by: lornasass | January 17, 2010


I recently received the following e-mail: I want to thank you for including ‘porcupine meatballs’ in Cooking Under Pressure.  I have been making them for years.  My mother made them in her pressure cooker and I loved them so much growing up.  I thought that the recipe was gone until I found them in your book almost 20 years ago.

I’ve revised the recipe slightly for the 20th anniversary edition of Cooking Under Pressure.  Here it is:



The recipe for these delightful meatballs appears in all of the Presto cookbooks, old and current. The original version is quite simple, calling for ground beef, rice, salt, pepper, and a bit of minced onion. The meatballs are cooked in a small can of tomato soup concentrate.

Here’s my gussied-up version. It may not sound very modest, but they are delicious, and kids (grown-ups, too) find it amusing to find the cooked rice sticking out all over the place. A cholesterol-conscious friend substitutes ground chicken and veal for the beef and pork.

To cook the rice properly, the meatballs must sit in a single layer directly in the liquid; make them in two separate batches if necessary. I sit the meatballs in water and pour the tomatoes on top to avoid scorching the bottom of the cooker as it comes up to pressure. Avoid using a tomato sauce that has bits of mushroom or sausage in it, as they have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the cooker.


1 1/2 pounds ground beef or a combination of 3/4 pound ground beef and 3/4 pound ground pork

1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped capers (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 cup water

3 cups tomato sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Garnish: grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the water, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Roll into about 17–18 meatballs, each about 2 inches in diameter.

Pour the water into the cooker. Set the meatballs side by side in the sauce; don’t stack them on top of each other. (You may have to cook the meatballs in two batches.) Pour the tomato sauce on top. Do not stir.

Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally, about 7 minutes. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.

Check for doneness by splitting open a meatball and making sure that the rice on the inside is thoroughly cooked. If not, lock the lid back in place and let the meatballs steam in the residual heat for a minute or two.

Lift the meatballs from the pot with a slotted spoon and set on a warm platter. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, boil vigorously over high heat until reduced to desired consistency. Alternatively, blend the cornstarch into 1 tablespoon of water and stir it in. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens.

Pour over the meatballs and serve, topped with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Copyright 2009 Lorna Sass, adapted from COOKING UNDER PRESSURE



  1. Again Lorna, thanks for including the recipe. I also add a diced large shallot, in addition to the onion, and sliced fresh mushrooms.

    Nina, San Francisco

    • Fun ideas! TX for sharing.Lorna

  2. I love them too. I also use the porcupine meatball recipe when I make PC stuffed peppers. Just clean and fill bell peppers with (raw) beef mixture, and cook in the pressure. The first time I tried, I expected to open the cooker and have the filling all over the place, but no, it stayed in the peppers.

    • Great idea! I’ll try it. TX for sharing.

  3. Reading your blog I thought of the African proverb EACH ONE TEACH ONE. I’d love to see readers of this blog — in the name of good food served fast, in the name of energy conservation — start the “PCPC.” No, that’s not a typo — it’s the PRESSURE COOKER PERSONAL CHALLENGE! Why restrict ourselves to preaching to the converted? In the next month, invite a friend or a couple over for a meal — the only requirement is that your guest or guests would have never used a PC. Let them see what you’re doing and (if they’re good and helpful) have them join you in a dinner of PC risotto. Or any of the other wonderful main dishes found in Lorna’s PC books. Then we could start a groundswell of PC-conversions!

  4. Great idea jazzlives … I have converted a few friends to the point that this week they dusted off their PC’s that they haven’t used in years, and have made porcupine meatballs and lamb shanks and white beans. They are born again PC users and loving it.

    Nina, San Francisco

  5. Hallelujah, Sister Nina! We won’t stop until all the people who haven’t got the message are eating fast, tasty, healthy food! Cheers to you in your righteous fervor!

  6. Would I be able to substitute brown rice in place of the white?

    • You could substitute brown rice only if it was already cooked. Happy cooking!

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