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Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Currants

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8 as an appetizer; 4 as a main course

Inspired by Sicilian food, these meatballs get vibrant flavor from a vinegar-based agrodolce sauce, currants, and pine nuts. Whole-wheat breadcrumbs added at the end lend a nice crunch. Serve them with sautéed spinach for a simple main course.


  • 3 oz. fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 oz. ground beef (preferably 85%lean)
  • 12 oz. ground pork (preferably shoulder)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbs. capers, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried currants

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 330
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 200
  • Fat (g): 23
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11
  • Cholesterol (mg): 80
  • Sodium (mg): 380
  • Carbohydrates (g): 14
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 19


  • In a 12-inch skillet, toss half of the breadcrumbs with 2Tbs. of the oil and 1/4tsp. salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the crumbs brown and crisp, 3 to 5minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix the beef and pork with 1tsp. salt and 1/2tsp. pepper. Gently mix in the Parmigiano, half of the parsley, the egg, capers, and remaining breadcrumbs. Set a small bowl of cold water nearby and, occasionally moistening your hands, gently roll 1-1/2-oz. portions of the meat into balls; you should get about 20.
  • Wipe the skillet clean and heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat until shimmering hot. Cook half of the meatballs, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 1 to 2minutes more. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  • Pour off all of the fat, put the pan over medium-high heat, and add the chicken broth, vinegar, and sugar. Boil, stirring to incorporate any browned bits, until the mixture reduces by about half, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Return the meatballs to the pan, lower the heat to medium, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the meatballs cook through (160°F) and the sauce thickens to a glaze that coats the meatballs, about 15 minutes. (If the glaze reduces before the meatballs cook, add more broth 1 Tbs. at a time and continue cooking; if the meatballs cook before the glaze reduces, transfer the meatballs to a plate and continue cooking the glaze.)
  • Remove from the heat. Stir in the pine nuts and currants, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley and toasted breadcrumbs.


Rate or Review

Reviews (2 reviews)

  • VAPAT | 02/19/2016

    This was a disappointment. The meatballs need more flavor and the glaze is nothing. The currants and pine nuts seems to be an afterthought and don't make for an attractive presentation. Overall, the recipe needs more work.

  • momsstuffing | 02/02/2016

    Wow! Delicious! Very easy. The glaze was getting done sooner than the meatballs so I added more broth, vinegar and sugar to keep flavor balanced. Just eyeballed it. Turned out wonderful. A great blend of flavors and textures. Served with roasted broccoli and buttered quinoa. Even the kids loved it!!!

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