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The recipe I developed for ASI's Meatball Contest just wasn't right.  I tweaked it half a dozen times, and was prepared to submit an untested version when T intervened.  "You need to make them one more time.  I will help!"

To T, spending any amount of time in the kitchen is a sacrifice.   I did not underestimate the significance of T offering to be my kitchen buddy, so I took him up on his generous offer even though we'd both spent more than 14 hours working away from home that day.

Except for Christmas Eve when tradition reigns, I usually modernize tried and true Swedish meatballs by tossing them in a lingonberry reduction rather than serving them with a white or brown sauce.  Yet  this final trial (we puttered late into the night on Thursday and the recipe was due Friday afternoon) was still missing something.  But what? A little heat to balance the sweet, and Sriracha comes to the rescue.

Fellow competitors in the meatball contest will include women who have been rolling their family recipes for 80+ years, and these cooks have much to teach all of us.  I humbly acknowledge that my meatballs are likely not contenders in this auspicious contest, but they are my contribution and nod to evolving food traditions. 

Modern Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberry Reduction
Makes about 60 tiny meatballs

2/3 scant cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup half-and-half
1 cup riced cooked russet potato, cooled (about 1 potato, peeled)
1 grated medium yellow onion (about ½ cup)
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon prepared Swedish mustard
1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger (or ½ teaspoon ginger powder)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound 85 – 90% lean ground beef
½ pound ground pork

1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, diced fine
¾ cup quality lingonberry preserves, such as Hafi or Felix
½ cup dry red wine, such as Malbec or Pinot Noir
(Note: chicken stock may be substituted for the wine)
¼ cup orange juice (juice from about 1 orange)
1 ounce inexpensive balsamic vinegar
Zest from 1 orange
1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger (or ½ teaspoon ginger powder)
1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine bread crumbs and half-and-half in medium-sized bowl, stirring with spatula until crumbs are moistened and soak up half-and-half; stir in potato and set aside.

2. In a very large bowl mix onion, egg yolks, mustard, ginger, sugar, salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg; use your hands to combine thoroughly. Add beef and pork and mix well but gently. Add the bread crumb and half-and-half mixture and mix well.

3. Keep your hands wet with water to avoid mixture sticking to them, and shape tiny meatballs (use a heaping tablespoon to measure each ball). Place meatballs in buttered cake pans. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven. Flip balls after 10 minutes; continue cooking until internal temperature reads 160 degrees; about 25 minutes total cooking time.

While meatballs bake, prepare lingonberry reduction:
4. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat; add shallot and sauté until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer; cook gently about 5 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is reduced slightly and begins to thicken. If meatballs are still baking, remove sauce from heat and cover.

6. Bring sauce back to simmer over medium heat; gently stir in cooked meatballs to coat with reduction. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Serve hot with pickled cucumbers and additional lingonberries.


frimp said…
60 Meatballs?! Sounds like an institutional recipe!
stephaniesays said…
it sounds delicious!

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