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Swedish Meatballs: Get in Touch with Your Inner Minnesotan

sweedish meatballsAlthough I was raised mainly in the South, I think I would be an excellent upper-midwesterner. I’m reasonably polite, I play hockey, I like state and county fairs, I’m pretty stoic about the weather, and I love Swedish meatballs.

For our Christmas party every year, we either make gravlax or Swedish meatballs. This was a meatball year, and they turned out really well, even if I rushed making my roux and had a little trouble getting the sauce to thicken up as a result. In spite of that, the meatballs were moist and browned up really nicely and the sauce was fantastic. We served these as an appetizer with toothpicks, but they also make a nice dinner, served over boiled potatoes with sauce and lingonberry preserves. If they don’t sell lingonberries where you are, you can order them online from a specialty retailer like Ingebretsen’s.

A note, this recipe makes a ton of meatballs. If you’re doing a family dinner, you may want to make a smaller portion. I’d estimate about a quarter pound of meat per person.

Swedish Meatballs (adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World)

2 lbs. ground beef
2 lbs. ground pork
1 cup bread crumbs
1 3/4 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon salt, plus more for the gravy
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
pepper to taste

Soak the bread crumbs in 1 cup of the cream. While the bread crumbs are soaking, saute the onion in one tablespoon of butter until it turns translucent, about 7 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, bread crumbs, onions, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix it all together thoroughly with your hands. Form the meat into meatballs.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the meatballs about three minutes on each side. You may need to do these in batches.

Drain off most of the fat and reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining butter and slowly whisk in the flour, stirring and allowing the combined butter and flour to thicken and turn a nutty brown. After all the flour is added, gradually add the beef broth. Stir and cook for a couple minutes, reduce the heat to low and stir in the remaining half and half. Taste your sauce and add salt and pepper if you feel like you need it.

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