These simple meatballs are delicious - tender, moist, and tangy from the sauce. They're a lovely little window into the simple yet delicious and balanced food that Chez Panisse is known for, with a twist for palates jaded by heavy holiday food and too much richness.
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground pork
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon Thyme Sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh squeezed Sunburst lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Zest the lemon, to garnish
Roughly chopped thyme, still on stems, to garnish
Put the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and mix with a fork. When the crumbs have softened squeeze out the milk and discard it.
Gently sauté the onion in a little olive oil until it is soft but not colored. Season with a pinch of salt and set it aside to cool.
Combine in a medium bowl the pork, breadcrumbs, onion, egg, Parmesan, sage, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix with hands thoroughly.
Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls. This can be done several hours or even a day ahead.
To cook, heat a skillet large enough to hold all the meatballs in one uncrowded layer. Add a little olive oil. When the skillet is heated, add the meatballs, shaking the pan to keep them from sticking. Using tongs to turn so they brown evenly, cook the meatballs until they are no longer pink in the center and lightly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan to a plate and immediately make the sauce.
Remove meatballs from the pan, and deglaze it over medium heat with the chicken broth and wine. Simmer until reduced by at least a third. Add the lemon juice and thyme, then add the meatballs back in again as well.
Simmer until ready to serve - at least 10 minutes, but up to half an hour. Serve meatballs with the sauce poured over and garnished with lemon zest curls and thyme sprigs.
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