We’ve turned it into a noodle casserole, we’ve turned it into a chicken skillet… Clearly we love French Onion Soup. Now, it’s taking its turn as meatballs. Stuffed meatballs, that is. Yup. The center of these little guys holds a pocket of sweet caramelized onions and ooey-gooey Gruyere cheese, and they’re every bit as good as they sound.
You start by caramelizing the onions, which takes patience and a little bit of time, but is always well worth it. Then, you make a basic meatball mixture and form it into a little patty in your hand. Place some of the onion mixture and a little cube of cheese in the center and form the patty into a ball around the filling. See? Easy enough.
The meatballs get browned in a skillet (the same skillet you used for the onions works just fine) before a mixture of beef broth and red wine gets poured around them. The searing helps them hold together as they simmer in the sauce in the oven, and that sauce reduces into one that’s reminiscent of the irresistible broth you know and love from French Onion Soup.
And of course, there’s more cheese involved, because what would French Onion Soup be without a delicious, broiled topping of melted cheese? Gruyere is our favorite here, but a nice nutty Swiss is a fine substitute. It gets sprinkled over the top as the meatballs finish baking, so it forms a nice little cheesy blanket over the whole dish.
You could eat them just as they are – a meatball surrounded in a tasty broth – and you’d be totally content, but we think a bed of mashed potatoes with the broth spilling over it is the ultimate way to go with these.
French Onion Stuffed Meatballs
Serves 4-6; 1 hour
- For the onions and meatballs:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, divided
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 8 oz Gruyere or Swiss cheese, 2 oz cut into 1/2-inch cubes, the rest grated
- For the sauce:
- 1 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until caramelized, stirring frequently, about 15-20 minutes.
- Add half of the thyme, cook for one minute, and then add 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup beef broth.
- Cook until liquid has reduced; very little liquid should remain. Remove to a plate or bowl and set aside.
- To a large bowl, add ground beef, remaining thyme, breadcrumbs, egg, and about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix together thoroughly with your hands and divide into 16 equal pieces.
- Take a piece of the meat mixture and flatten into a patty. Add a 1/2 tablespoon of the onions and a cube of cheese to the center of the patty and wrap the meat around the onions and cheese to form a meatball. Repeat with remaining meat.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Heat remaining oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, turning gently.
- Whisk together 1 3/4 cup beef broth, 1/4 cup wine, and cornstarch and pour over browned meatballs.
- Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over meatballs and return to oven until meatballs are cooked through, about 15 more minutes.
- To brown cheese, place under broiler for a few minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.