Porcupine Meatballs-- West Virginia Style

Fran Miller


I hadn't made these for YEARS, then I saw a Facebook post with a similar recipe and laughed when I remembered a certain child's disappointment when he found out the meatballs weren't made of porcupine! It just seemed lame to him that the rice made "quills" sticking out of the meatballs, hence the name.

The recipes were similar but, in West Virginia, our PMBs aren't supposed to taste like the ones you serve with spaghetti. Unless you want them to!

Hey, it's your kitchen. Make them anyway YOU want! I insist. =^..^=


★★★★★ 2 votes

6 servings
15 Min
1 Hr


  • 1 1/2 lb
    ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 3/4 c
    instant rice (uncooked)
  • 1/2
    small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove
    garlic, minced
  • 28-29 oz
    can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
  • pinch
    oregano, optional
  • sprinkle
    garlic salt, optional

How to Make Porcupine Meatballs-- West Virginia Style


  1. Before starting, mist a large oven-proof bowl with cooking spray. (Yes, you will be baking the meatballs right in the bowl you mix them in.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the prepared bowl, put the ground beef, rice, chopped onion, and minced garlic.
  3. Mix it together well.
  4. If you used very lean ground beef (or turkey), form your meatballs and drop them right back into the bowl. Go right to Step 7.

    Yes, my meatballs are oblong, not round. My mother, who was a fabulous Italian cook, always made hers this way so they would cook more evenly.
  5. If you're like me and use cheaper meats, form the meatballs and drop them into a hot skillet. The idea is to get some of the fat out of the meat before you bake them.
  6. Just shake the skillet around, turning the meatballs over until most of the sides are lightly browned. (They won't be cooked in the middle, but at least some of the fat is rendered.) This step should take around 10 minutes, or less, if you get tired of fooling with them. Spoon the browned meatballs back into the prepared bowl.
  7. Pour the tomato sauce or diced tomatoes over the meatballs. Sprinkle with oregano & garlic salt, if you like.
  8. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil (or the lid, if you have one) and place into the preheated oven. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes COVERED.
  9. Remove the aluminum foil (or lid) and bake an addition 15 minutes, if the meatballs were browned before baking, or 20-25 minutes, if the meatballs were raw.

    OK, I admit that I remove a "sacrificial meatball" and chop it in half to see if it's done. If it is, I eat it. If not, it goes back into the bowl & the oven. Waste not, want not...
  10. Once the meatballs are done, serve them over mashed potatoes in true West Virginia style. A side of my West Virginia Green Beans would just put your plate over the top... of one of our beautiful mountains, that is. =^..^=

Printable Recipe Card

About Porcupine Meatballs-- West Virginia Style

Course/Dish: Beef
Main Ingredient: Beef
Regional Style: American
Other Tag: Quick & Easy

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