Cookbook Confessions: Baby Porcupines

The final product Photo credit: Sarah Jennings

By Sarah Jennings, Reporter

In this week’s adventure for Cookbook Confessions, I cooked up some “Baby Porcupines”, a recipe which thankfully does not require the actual anatomical parts of a porcupine. That would be sad and, perhaps more importantly, very difficult to acquire.


If I’m being completely honest, I was a little disappointed that Mrs. E. H. James didn’t suggest using real porcupines. What a great story that would’ve been. It leaves me with an important question for Google: Do people eat porcupines?

Photo credit: Sarah Jennings

Well, just wait. Molly Carter writes on Wide Open Spaces, a hunting and fishing website, that porcupines make great survival food for the following five reasons: They’re slow, they have really bad eyesight, you can kill them by hand, they’ve got a lot of meat on them, and you can eat them raw.


Now that we’ve established that humans do indeed eat porcupines, let’s get on with the recipe for those of us lucky enough to be civilized.


Photo credit: Sarah Jennings

This recipe surprised me by requiring relatively common ingredients. I wouldn’t have needed any creative substitutions; however, I forgot to buy rice at H-E-B. Apparently I have not yet learned to read all of the instructions ahead of time.


Fortunately, a new CVS Pharmacy opened up where I live, so I took a quick trip there and settled on some minute rice. It’s not ideal, but that’s all they had.


Once home, I simmered 1 pound of ground sirloin and added the onions and green peppers in after the meat was mostly brown. I would recommend using more onions and peppers than the recipe calls for as those flavors didn’t really show up in the final taste. Then, I beat two eggs and poured them in at the same time as the sweet milk—also known as condensed milk. You’ll want to make sure the heat is low at this point. You don’t want scrambled eggs. Crush the crackers in a plastic bag and mix it up.


Then comes the fun part. I grabbed a handful of the mixture, rolled it into a ball and then covered it with rice. Okay, that part was actually gross and really inconvenient. I had to keep stirring the tomato soup, but my hands were covered in a beefy goo.


After lowering the porcupine balls into the boiling soup, they were done in a minute or two. I tried a bite, and they were delicious. They aren’t beautiful or something I’d normally recommend, but they taste like meatloaf essentially. When reading about this recipe on a blog, it seems to be an old comfort food. Many people were asking for this recipe, as it’s something they remember from childhood, though it’s gone out of fashion in recent decades.


Reading blogs such as the one above is such fun because I’m finding diverse, generous people who have stories and memories related to so many different foods. But it’s not really about the food at all. It’s about sharing these stories and making connections with people. Food is one of the few things in the world that everyone needs and everyone enjoys. I love the fellowship of the table, a place to share with friends, family and even strangers. I’ve been able to experience this, with these cooks from years ago, in a small way through the humor and wisdom they inserted into their cookbooks.