Russian Porcupine Meatballs

This is one of my favorite comfort foods. The sauce that goes with this is to die for. They’re called porcupine meatballs (тетфтели ежики – tefteli ezhiki) because of the rice that is in them. They stick out like quills sometimes.

We tend to have the meatballs and the sauce over macaroni. My family soaks up the remaining sauce on the plate with a piece of bread because it is that scrumptious!


For the meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 3/4 cup white rice (not the instant kind), partially cooked (see instructions for more info)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Partially cook the rice. Bring small saucepot of water with rice in it to boil and let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain and let it cool slightly.
  3. Combine ALL the ingredients for the meatball in a large bowl. Form large meatballs with your hands. Here’s a tip: moisten your hands with water once in a while so the meat mixture doesn’t stick to your hands as much.
  4. Place meatballs in a baking or casserole pan. (Not a baking sheet because it needs sides to hold the sauce in).
  5. Now you work on the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 5 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften.
  7. Add garlic and tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds.
  8. Add the flour. Mix it into the carrots and the onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add in the chicken broth. Mix well. Cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and add in the heavy cream. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Pour cream sauce over the meatballs.
  12. Cover pans with aluminum foil and bake for 40-50 minutes.



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