Julia’s Nom Nom Meatballs, Porcupine Style… Wha?!

As I continue to explore my grandparent’s recipe repertoire Gratefulness is growing.

They really did nourished me.

Dinner was never out of a package, bread a minimal garnish, and veggies always prominent on the plate. Still, the classics that have stuck in my mind stick to the bones. Animal protein was my grandmother’s favourite evening indulgence.

Grandpa’s was bourbon and soda, but he never went past two.


Grandma called it the, “One, two poof.”

Like a meatball itself, this recipe is  a mash up. Julia Child’s classic cocktail meatball provides a template, Nom Nom Paleo’s add a fish sauce twist, and in the tradition of my Grandmother’s glorious Porcupine Balls a little bit of cooked rice rolls this ball home.

But first:

Two Tip interlude: I have been balling a lot of meat lately, playing with ratios and fillers, this batch marries two of the things that really turned my meatballs into a moist flavor bomb.

  1. Starchy addition = I understand the low carb benefits very well. Still, a purely meat ball is a dense affair, all that mighty umami needs to soak into something otherwise it leaks out all over the baking sheet. That is why breadcrumbs and oats are the classic add in. I  about 3/4 cup starch mash (roasted taters, sweet taters, cooked rice) per pound of protein seems to be the magic number. Other wise you are just rolling up tiny burgers, in which case just make a slider.
  2. Food processor = A food processor emulsifies the fat and breaks down the connective tissue in the meat. This creates a springy well-formed ball with a rich and moist interior.  Also, you don’t have to mince the herb and onion additions, just toss them in the processor after a quick rough chop. Hand mixing is fine if a food processor is not available, but really mince the heck out of any additions.

meatball sign

OK, that’s settled, here we go.


  • 1 cup cooked rice (cook it in stock for bonus points)
  • 1 lb ground beef (grass fed, Great! grass finished, Awesome!)
  • 4 oz ground pork (no pork? just add more beef, if it is lean add an egg)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaf or 2 tbsp dry
  • 1 tb Tamari sauce or fish sauce
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • 3 finger pinch cayenne
  • 3 finger pinch ground ginger


  • Optional: Shallot, red onion, sweet onion, garlic roughly chopped


  • Toss everything except the rice into your food processor (or a big bowl for a hand mix). Pulse the processor in 5 second intervals until everything is well integrated. The reason for pulsing vs. just letting the processor run is to avoid heating the mix to a point where the fats melt.

Not fun for the rolling phase.

It also lends you the baller more control, after 4-5 pulse rounds you start to cross into pate’ territory.

Also, not fun for the rolling phase.

The mix should still be a little chunky and pinkish in color, as the white fat and the red meat integrate.


  • Toss in the rice and pulse 2-3 more times until it is well integrated.
  • Roll gobs into balls 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and arrange in one layer on a lightly oiled baking dish or cast iron. I made a tiny one for taste testing.


  • Bake in a preheated 450º F oven for 7 to 8 minutes (for larger balls you will need longer cook time). Turn balls once or twice otherwise the bottoms will burn. Like I did below.
  • meatballsPull them out let them cool and enjoy with any number of tasty sides and/or sauces.

I opted for mashed sweet potato and a quick avocado coleslaw. Tasty all around.


I hope that there are some good take away from this recipe, I really did do a good deal of ball research no kidding. Play with add in, different herbs, spices, and veggies. and give some info on you results.

Anyone tried adding mashed plantains…. I hope so.



One Comment on “Julia’s Nom Nom Meatballs, Porcupine Style… Wha?!”

  1. […] went with Porcupine Balls again, but with none of my favourite […]

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