Zesty porcupine meatballs with bell peppers have from-scratch flavor with shortcuts! Serve over pasta, next to pasta with a simple sauce (I like just olive oil, basil, garlic, and a dash of salt), or with some nice crusty bread.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
6 hrs 15 mins
total:
6 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
16 meatballs with sauce
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Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Thoroughly combine ground beef, rice, milk, egg, garlic, basil, and salt in a bowl. Form the mixture into about 16 1-1/2 inch meatballs.

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  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and brown the meatballs well on all sides, about 15 minutes.

  • Place the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, red wine, basil, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and 3 minced garlic cloves in slow cooker, and stir to combine. Put the meatballs into the slow cooker, and stir gently to cover with sauce. Shake the frozen vegetables over the sauce, without stirring, and cook on Low, covered, for 6 to 8 hours, until the meatballs are tender and the vegetables are cooked.

  • About an hour before serving, gently stir the sauce, being careful not to break the meatballs, and remove the bay leaves. Cook for 1 more hour to blend the flavors and thicken the sauce.

Cook's Note:

You can substitute fresh red and green bell peppers and yellow onion, cut into strips, for the frozen pepper mix.

We are garlic lovers, and slow-cooked garlic is good but subtle. I like to add two additional cloves of garlic to the sauce about 30 minutes before serving to give it a bolder garlic flavor.

Nutrition Facts

557 calories; protein 37.3g 75% DV; carbohydrates 41.6g 13% DV; fat 24.4g 38% DV; cholesterol 133.1mg 44% DV; sodium 1107.3mg 44% DV. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (48)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 4 stars
08/07/2009
These were very good- sauce kept the meatballs moist with a nice flavor. I did add an extra egg to the meat mixture for two reasons: I was using medium-sized eggs and my porcupines always fall apart. I'm happy to say that with careful turning they were perfect! The only thing I did different with the method I put some of the sauce in the slow cooker then added the porcupines then the rest of the sauce. This was so I wouldn't have to turn or stir them so much. Read More
(209)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
10/29/2009
Sorry but we found these meatballs to be quite bland and boring. If we get the urge to have ground beef with rice again I will stick to stuffed cabbage rolls. Much tastier! Read More
(13)
68 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 35
  • 4 star values: 20
  • 3 star values: 8
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 4 stars
08/07/2009
These were very good- sauce kept the meatballs moist with a nice flavor. I did add an extra egg to the meat mixture for two reasons: I was using medium-sized eggs and my porcupines always fall apart. I'm happy to say that with careful turning they were perfect! The only thing I did different with the method I put some of the sauce in the slow cooker then added the porcupines then the rest of the sauce. This was so I wouldn't have to turn or stir them so much. Read More
(209)
Rating: 5 stars
06/14/2010
Wow the original recipe back in the 1960's was just the meat mixed with rice and cooked in canned tomato soup. Not much taste but easy and a cheap way to feed my growing family.What an improvement this recipe is. I hadn't made these in years but plan to use this recipe often. Read More
(77)
Rating: 4 stars
03/05/2009
Terrific recipe! I was trying to duplicate a lost family recipe and this came very close. It actually had more flavor than ours and was more convenient in the slow cooker! I didn't add the frozen pepper/onions is the only thing I changed. Will make this again for a nice homestyle family meal. I like to serve with french-cut green beans and rice. Very yummy. Read More
(63)
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Rating: 5 stars
02/02/2011
My husband and his coworkers have had the winter doldrums lately so because it was Groundhog Day I decided to send a double batch of porcupines. This recipe caught my eye because it is specifically for slow cooker which is what is great for work. I confess I only used the sauce from this recipe but am so glad I did! It was a HUGE hit and the coworkers have informed me that they expect "groundhogs" with this sauce again next year on February 2. Read More
(45)
Rating: 4 stars
06/15/2010
This recipe brought back wonderful chilhood memories. Mom always made these but used mushroom soup as the sauce. She used the oven but I will make them in the crockpot. Thanks for the memories!!! Read More
(38)
Rating: 4 stars
06/21/2010
The meatballs themselves were somewhat bland and I would spice more next time. THe sauce and cooking method was spot on and overall a win. Read More
(28)
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Rating: 4 stars
10/26/2010
good! meatballs fell apart a bit...sauce was really good. i used fresh peppers and onion and would do it that way every time. Read More
(21)
Rating: 4 stars
09/25/2012
For real efficiency I make about 5 batches at once on a weekend day. Once they are browned freeze them in a zipper-freezer bag. In the morning dump the whole frozen blob into your slow cooker poor over the sauce and go to work. I switch up the veggies and leave the bay leaf out add garlic. Doesn't really matter. Do it like Mom did except by freezing ahead you've got dinner on those busy week nights. Read More
(21)
Rating: 4 stars
03/18/2010
This is a great gluten free meatball Read More
(17)
Rating: 2 stars
10/29/2009
Sorry but we found these meatballs to be quite bland and boring. If we get the urge to have ground beef with rice again I will stick to stuffed cabbage rolls. Much tastier! Read More
(13)
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