Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Swedish Meatballs

This is a recipe I usually prefer to make in the late winter months, but it's good any time the weather is cooler. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures when I made these yesterday, but I figured I'd share the recipe now, while it's on my mind.

Meatball Ingredients:
2 slices of white bread
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom

Remove the crust from the bread, break it into small chunks, and put it in a large bowl with the milk. Set it aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the butter until melted. On low heat saute the minced garlic just for a few minutes to cook it through a bit. Remove from heat, and set aside. (If you like onion, you can finely chop a small onion and saute that until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.)

By now the bread should have totally absorbed the milk. If not, toss it a bit and let it set for a few more minutes. Once all the milk is absorbed, mash it very well with a fork. Add the garlic, and all other ingredients to the bowl - the egg, egg yolk, beef and pork, and all the spices. Mix until everything is well combined.

Preheat your oven to 300F. Next, over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons oil in the large frying pan. When it's all melted and slightly bubbling, start dropping in meatballs. Use a tablespoon to scoop out some of the meat mixture, roll it into a ball, and place it into the pan. Roll another, place. Don't overcrowd the pan. By the time you've put the last meatball into the pan, the first ones will be ready to flip over. On your first batch keep an eye out to get a feel for the cooking time, you may need to flip sooner. You don't need to cook them all the way through at this point, only brown them.

When the meatballs are browned, place them onto a sheet pan lined with tin foil. Then, start the next batch of meatballs browning. (I had to do three batches.) Once all the meatballs are browned and on the sheet pan, put them into the oven.

You can start to make your gravy while the meatballs are in the oven, but keep an eye on them! You want them to just cook all the way through, which may take more or less time depending on how you browned them. Check them every so often.

For the gravy you'll need:
1/3 cup flour
2 cups of beef stock
2 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup sour cream
A couple tablespoons of Lingonberry jam. (Don't have that? Substitute raspberry, cranberry or currant jam.)

Heat the stock and broth in a pot, keep it hot over low heat.

Taste the butter in the pan you used to fry the meatballs. If it tastes burnt, discard it and melt 4 tablespoons of new butter. If it tastes fine, use that. Heat it over medium heat until hot. Slowly stir in the flour. Stirring often, let this mixture cook until it's browned a bit - the color will look a bit like coffee with cream, or a creamy hot chocolate.

Mix in the hot stock and broth mixture, a little at a time. The flour mixture will clump up a bit, but that's okay. Keep stirring in the liquid until you've added it all. When it's all mixed in well, it should be a smooth sauce. Let this come to a simmer, lower the heat, and allow the liquid to cook down. You want it to reduce by about half, and become a bit thicker.

When the gravy has reduced and thickened, add in the sour cream, and the jam. I did 4 or 5 tablespoons, but do it to your tastes. Now's the time to add in a bit of salt or pepper, if you feel the gravy needs it. I find that the stock/broth usually has enough salt, but it's up to you of course.

By now the meatballs should have finished cooking. Add those into the gravy, on low heat, and allow everything to heat together for 5 to 10 minutes. Just helps bring everything together. You can serve them as they are, and they make a great appetizer this way. Last night my family ate the meatballs and gravy over some toast, while I personally prefer them over mashed potatoes or even rice. They also make a nice dinner with a vegetable side, such as peas or broccoli. Fresh cranberry sauce, or chunky apples with cinnamon are also nice sides for this meal.

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