Trial, Error, and Amusement

Preparation for a foods class I am teaching this spring find me experimenting with recipes in order to create the perfect Swedish meatball.  Without much thought, on Christmas Eve I toss together the same ingredients I've always used.  I soak bread in half and half, add eggs, mustard, sautéed onions, and spices.  I fry the tiny balls in butter and olive oil, and toss them in a reduction of chicken stock and lingonberries.  Except for the lack of cream sauce, they taste like the well-done meatballs my dad used to serve alongside lefse and potatoes.

There is a saying in Sweden that Mom's Meatballs are the best.  Similarly, I assumed my dad's meatballs were the best, so recreating them every year meant my meatballs were the best.  But searching for the perfect meatball had me perusing hundreds of Swedish meatball recipes, and I discovered intriguing differences.  Some recipes call for prepared bread crumbs, others dictate 2 parts beef to 1 part pork.  For this new recipe, I borrowed the best ideas and am pretty happy with the results.  Most notable changes include the addition of grated onions and mashed potatoes, and baking the meatballs in chicken stock rather than frying them.

Swedish Meatballs
Serves 6 - 8

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 cup cooked potatoes, pushed through ricer
1 scant cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 small onion, grated
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

32 ounces chicken stock
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine all meatball ingredients except for meat until very well blended. Add meat and gently fold into mixture. Roll into small balls, about the size of walnuts. Place balls in large pans with high sides (I use two 9 x 13 x 2 inch cake pans), leaving room between each ball. Pour chicken stock into pans to about half the height of the meatballs. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 - 45 minutes.

Remove pans from oven; pour stock into degreaser. Return meatballs in one pan to oven for additional 10 minutes, or until they are browned.

Melt butter in large pan over medium high heat; whisk in flour; add hot degreased stock and continue whisking. Add Worcestershire and pepper; whisk and allow to simmer until it reaches desired thickness.

Serve meatballs with gravy on the side.


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