Porcupine Meatballs With a Cream Sauce – Тефтели “Ёжики”

IMG_0211 (550x359)Life in Florida certainly has it’s many benefits and our sunny winter is one of them for sure. I’ve always been one of those people that is always cold. If everyone else is hot, I’m finally comfortable. Alas, I’ve learned to always have a sweater in the car, just in case, and it’s usually put to good use.

Even Florida has it’s “cold days”, and those are the times when I long for coziness and staying close to the hearth of my home. I love snuggling under a warm blanket with a good book, usually one that I picked from our shelves and have read countless times already. That’s the time to make a simple but comforting dinner. I like comfort food as much as any other person, but I prefer that it wouldn’t taste heavy, and this dish accomplishes both.

In Russian, these Porcupine Meatballs (Tefteli Ezhiki) are called this way because of the rice that is used in them, that pokes out from the meatballs in little “quills”.  Baked in a scrumptious sauce that’s flavored with carrots, onions and tomato paste and just a bit of cream, it definitely tastes comforting to me. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 40 min

Partially cook the rice. I usually bring the water to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl.

If you’re wondering why I added water to the meatball mixture, it’s to make the meatballs more tender.

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Form meatballs approximately 2 Tablespoons each. Place in a rimmed baking pan.

You can use a portion scoop to make it easier to form the meatballs. Or use your hands. Moisten your hands every once in a while so the meat mixture doesn’t stick to your hands.

IMG_0048 (550x367)IMG_0054 (550x363)For the cream sauce, melt butter in a large skillet. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. IMG_0074 (550x346)Add the carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, until the carrots soften. IMG_0076 (550x367)Add the garlic and tomato paste to the center of the pan, cook for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until it’s completely incorporated into the carrots and onions. IMG_0093 (550x367)IMG_0097 (550x367)Pour in part of the chicken broth and whisk. IMG_0104 (550x367)I forgot to add the tomato paste and garlic, so I added it here. Oops. IMG_0108 (550x367)Gradually add the rest of the broth. Cook for about 15 minutes. IMG_0112 (550x367)Take off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. IMG_0117 (550x367)IMG_0124 (550x367)Pour the cream sauce over the meatballs. IMG_0146 (550x367)IMG_0147 (550x366)Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes.IMG_0188 (550x367)IMG_0211 (550x359)

Porcupine Meatballs With a Cream Sauce - Тефтели "Ёжики"
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 48 meatballs
Ingredients
Meatballs:
  • 1½ lbs ground beef
  • 1½ lbs ground pork
  • 1 cup rice, partially cooked
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cream Sauce:
  • 3-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2-3 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 5 cups chicken broth, warm
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Partially cook the rice. I usually bring the water to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.
  3. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Form meatballs approximately 2 Tablespoons each. Place in a rimmed baking pan.
  4. You can use a portion scoop to make it easier to form the meatballs. Or use your hands. Moisten your hands every once in a while so the meat mixture doesn't stick to your hands.
  5. For the cream sauce, melt butter in a large skillet. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, until the carrots soften. Add the garlic and tomato paste to the center of the pan, cook for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the flour and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until it's completely incorporated into the carrots and onions.
  8. Pour in part of the chicken broth and whisk. Gradually add the rest of the broth. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  9. Take off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Pour the cream sauce over the meatballs.
  11. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes.

 
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Comments

  1. says

    This looks delicious, and I feel so much more comfortable trying this out having seen every step of the process making. Love that these are all simple ingredients I actually do have in my kitchen!! I do have one question, I’m a little challenged in the kitchen… how exactly do you cut your carrots like that? Or are they simply grated with the big side of the cheese grater? Thanks! New to your blog, I love your style of explaining the steps, and your tips :)

    • says

      Hi Gen,
      Thanks for the kind words! I am really thrilled that the tips and explanations are helpful.
      I like using simple ingredients too. It makes cooking much easier and more approachable:).
      I used a box grater for the carrots.

  2. Yana P says

    I just want to thank you for your hard work and detailed steps. Even the explanations behind why you add something and what it does. I learn so much through your website! I am excited to try this recipe out!
    Many Blessings!

    Yana

  3. Galina says

    Just made them and they were a BIG hit with my 3 picky boy’s. Going to have the left over meatballs over egg noodle pasta tomorrow. Thank you for sharing… :)

  4. Galina says

    Hi Olga, I have been reading your blog for several months now and have made a few things, but this is my first comment. I made these meatballs yesterday and everyone LOVED them. I used 2 lbs pork and 1 lb chicken because that’s what I had, also I didn’t have tomato paste so I used tomato sauce, but everything else I followed exactly. They were perfectly salted and juicy! Here are some of the comments I heard: my 5 year old girl as she is eating them “mom, these meatballs are making me even hungrier!”, 8 year old son “mom, these meatballs are DELICIOUS!”, husband “make sure you give me some of these for lunch tomorrow”, LOL. So I will definitely be making these again :-) Thank you

  5. Lilia says

    Mmm. These look so yummy. Going to the store to restock and get everything I need for this recipe. Can’t wait to try these.

    • Lilia says

      Didn’t have time to come back to say how they turned out. My whole family loved them. My 3 year old usually doesn’t like gravy with his mashed potatoes but because of the yummy meatballs he ate it all. I made a double batch for our big family and even had some leftovers for work the next day.

  6. elena says

    I made this for dinner and it was perfect. My family and i enjoyed it a lot :-) thank u for such a great recipe :-)will definitely be making this again :-)

  7. Olga St. Pierre says

    Thanks for this recipe!

    I always like to compare similar dishes that I make to how others make them. My mom always made ezhiki on the stove top, in the top, instead of the oven. I like your oven idea for the fact that I can put it in and walk away for a while :) Will also try the sauce, never made it with a sauce.

  8. Angie says

    I made this this sunday morning! It is great recipe! had a lot of flavor and my whole family enjoyed it! Thank you for another great recipe! You are wonderful!

  9. Oksana says

    Hi Olga, this looks so delicious. I got one question though. I’m planning to make it for Sunday’s lunch and I was wondering can I prepare it the night before and cook it on Sunday or should I cook it on Saturday and just heat it up on Sunday? And thanks once again for all the wonderful recipes your sending my way.

  10. Leslie says

    There are just two of us. I’d like to freeze half the recipe. Should I put the cream sauce over the raw meatballs in a baking dish and freeze it ready to bake later?

    • says

      You can bake the whole batch and then freeze half of it, Leslie. That’s what I would do.
      You can freeze the raw meatballs also, I think. However, I’ve never done it myself with this particular recipe, but I’ve done it with similar recipes and had great results.

      • natasha says

        Hi, I have. I freezed the half of the meat with rice, and than later used it to make kotleti, before frying obvaljat v syxarjax. :) ochen vkysno. Also, I make frikadelki dlja wedding syp out of this farsh, what’s left from this farsh. Cz its too much of tefteli for us 3. :)

  11. Sharlene says

    Hi Olga,
    I made these meatballs for a family get together last week and everyone loved them! They were going back for seconds and thirds! So thanks heaps for the recipe.:)

  12. Nina says

    Hi, Olechka,
    WOW!!! These meatballs are SOOOO delicious!!!! We loved your recipe much more that I used to cook. I made them today for dinner and was surprised because its take less time, easier and more delicious then mine. Thanks much!!!!
    I love your website and every recipe that I tried on your WEB SOO GOOD!!!!!
    PS. One tip for you. I use “McCormick Brown Gravy mix” instead flour or mixed it with flour. I buy it at “Sam’s club” because it’s cheaper. They have different kind such as chicken, turkey but my favorite is Brown Gravy, it has mushroom flavor and I use it so often in many dishes. Try it!!!
    Thanks again!
    Be blessed!

  13. natasha says

    Made these meatballs last night for dinner. and it was the first time I actually followed a recipe without skipping any steps and it turned out fantastic! I only had pork meat so it made less meatballs but the family enjoyed it. they tasted awesome. love your step by step and pictures. that always helps when u see what happens next. Looking forward to trying more of your amazing recipes! GOd bless!

  14. natalichka says

    Hey Olga, is 5 tablespoons of tomato paste too much? On your picture it looks like you used only 2. I put three, and I think its a little too sour, by the way i was making it second time again. Thanks.

    • says

      In the picture, I was making half a batch, so I used only 2.5 Tablespoons. In my opinion, you need the full amount of tomato paste, but adjust it to your taste buds. Everybody likes their food different.

  15. olga says

    Olga hi . This is tge best recipe I have ever had I love the gravy plus my husband really loved it .. he akways wants a really good gravy but I couldn’t find a good recipe he said this is the deal that’s what I like. Thank you for the post…

    • says

      Olga,
      This is such a great thing for me to hear. I know what you mean about finding just the right recipe. I’m always on the lookout to have that perfect combination that I can cook over and over for my family to enjoy.
      Thanks for taking the time to let me know the results of trying out this recipe.

  16. alina says

    Hello Olga, i recently came across your website and decided to give this recipe a try, and OMG! Its my first time cooking meatballs and they came out SO delicious, my toddler ate only that and not the mashed potatoes! i reduced the amount of rice a little and used 1 onion insead of 2 for the meat, but overall: amazing and SO soft! thank you!!

    • says

      The cream adds lusciousness and creaminess to the sauce. I really like the flavor that it adds to the sauce. Of course, you can omit it, just substitute with more broth. However, if you’re trying to cut calories, I don’t think this is the recipe for you. Gravies in general are not healthy and by omitting the cream, you will still have a lot of calories left in the rest of the sauce. If you’re lactose intolerant, just use more broth.

  17. Ksenia says

    I made these like 10 times now and they are always the best. I was wondering if I can cook them in the slow-cooker instead of the oven?

    • says

      I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying this recipe, Ksenia. I’ve never tried making these meatballs in the slow cooker. I think they will turn to mush, since you’ll need to place the raw meatballs one on top of the other in the slow cooker. Whenever I’ve made meatballs in the slow cooker before, I’ve always precooked the meatballs and then added the sauce in the slow cooker.

  18. Julia says

    Hi Olga! I made these for dinner today and they were super delicious, my hubby and 3 kids really enjoyed them :D I actually already had a “Tefteli” recipe I got from some Russian food blog a long time ago, but it was a bit bland and didn’t have the “wow factor” so to say; to cut a long story short, I’ll be replacing it with yours. You have great taste! Thanks for all the hard work you put into your blog :D

  19. Ksenia says

    A couple of weeks ago I made your buckwheat soup. Today I made these meatballs and WOW! I am impressed!!! This is my FAVORITE meatballs recipe BY FAR!!!!!
    Thanks again! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  20. Simona says

    Hi Olga, this is the recipe that led me to your site for the first time a few months ago. I was googling a recipe for the crockpot because the one I had used condensed soup for the gravy. I love your version so MUCH more! Your site has been a blessing and I love that most of your recipes have ingredients already stocked in my kitchen. I’ve tried many of your recipes and have been impressed by each one so far. Thanks for all that you do! For those wondering about making these in the crockpot you can! I used a 6 quart slow cooker but the meatballs have to be in a single layer so you can only make 24 at a time. Happy cooking everyone.

    • says

      Welcome, Simona! I am so glad you stopped by and also for taking the time to write. I really appreciate it.
      I’m so happy you enjoyed these meatballs. It’s one of our family favorites. Thanks for adding the note about the slow cooker – that’s very helpful.

  21. alana says

    I have some left pork lion and was thinking to grind the meat and make these beauties for 2maro! do you think it will still taste good w/out the ground beef?

    • says

      Sure, they should taste good without the beef. The only thing I would be concerned with is that there might not be enough fat, since you’re using pork loin, which is very lean. The meatballs might be tough.

  22. Brie Carleton says

    Hello,
    I’m doing a project on Russian food and I used this recipe for one of the dishes I made. I also have to include the history of each recipe that I made. I was wondering if you knew the history on these little hedgehogs? Anything will help. Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Brie!
      Sorry, I don’t know the history. This is a recipe that we’ve enjoyed in our family for many, many years. It’s a very common household recipe that most Slavic families have a variation of.

  23. says

    Hi Olga,

    I cooked this last night. I also made your chicken soup and carrot and parsnip combination, plus your beans. Between 6 people we gobbled it all up. Question. Do we use one cup of the partially cooked rice or do we use the whole lot? Can you please add an index to your recipes on your website. Best Regards, Ras

    • says

      Hi Ras! Wow, I’m thrilled that you are enjoying so many recipes.
      You would need to partially cook 1 cup of uncooked rice and use all of it in the meatballs.
      I do have a recipe index. Look under the Recipe Index tab.

  24. Luba says

    Hi Olga. I have a question. Would you recommend making this , all the steps , and than freezing the whole pan, and when I’m ready to serve it, take it out and bake it? I’m expecting guests this weekend, I would love to make this couple days in advance and freeze it, and than have it ready to bake and fresh for my guests. Have you ever tried that? Please let me know, thanks in advance :) (if you have any other meat recipes you’d like to share that are good for freezing, I would greatly appreciate it)

    • says

      Sure, you can certainly freeze the meatballs, Luba. I don’t do it too often, but I have frozen meatballs many times in the past.

  25. Lucy says

    Hello Olechka ,
    My kids loved these babies ,
    I made them Saturday and had some left over , when we woke up for church the next morning my 6 year old boy ask mama I want those kotletki for breakfast, that’s how much they liked it.
    Thank you so much for all your great recipes you are a great cook!!!
    May God bless you hun!

    • says

      That’s wonderful, Lucy. I know how important it is to find foods that kids enjoy. I am so thrilled to hear that your little guy loved the meatballs. This comment just put a huge grin on my face.

      • Mary says

        Could I use instant rice (that is what I have on hand) and increase the amount slightly? I plan on making it up on Sat. then reheating it in a slow cooker during church on Sunday.

        • says

          I don’t think it would be a problem, Mary, although I can’t really help you with the amount since I have never made instant rice before.

  26. Jules says

    Hi Olga! Thank you for this flavorful recipe! I love the sauce! Just wondering, I did make a lot of both the meatballs and sauce, would it be okay to just freeze the meatballs and refrigerate the sauce? Or can I freeze the sauce too?

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