Meatballs with Balsamic and Caramelized Onion Sauce

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

The sauce for these meatballs comes together quickly thanks to our ready-to-use braising sauce, which is rich with caramelized onions and aged balsamic vinegar. For a change of pace from the usual spaghetti, we serve the meatballs over orzo.  


For the meatballs:

  • 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (2 oz./60 g) lightly packed chopped spinach
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. (500 g) ground pork or mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) ground chicken thigh meat
  • 1 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 jar Williams Sonoma Balsamic and Caramelized Onion Braising Sauce

For the orzo:

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) orzo
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

  • Chopped fresh basil for garnish


To make the meatballs, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the ground pork and chicken. Add the cooled onion-spinach mixture, the panko, Parmesan, sour cream and egg to the meat and, using your hands, gently but thoroughly mix until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using a 2-inch (5-cm) ice cream scoop or a large spoon, form the meat mixture into about 15 meatballs, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Wipe out the fry pan used to cook the onions. In the same fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 4 Tbs. olive oil. Working in batches, add the meatballs and sear, turning occasionally, until well browned all over, about 8 minutes per batch. Return all the meatballs to the pan and add the braising sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until the sauce has reduced slightly and the meatballs are cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the orzo: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water, then add the orzo and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain the orzo and return to the pot. Stir in the Parmesan, olive oil and basil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the orzo to individual bowls and spoon the meatballs and sauce on top. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen

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