Thursday, October 2, 2008

Swedish Meatballs

C bought beef for the first time in months, and I wanted to do something special with it, so I made Swedish Meatballs. Mmmm, food meant for much cooler climates...

This was roughly two pounds of beef. To be entirely authentic, it should be half beef and half pork or veal, but all we had was beef and it wasn't planned, so I went with that.

Start by setting several pounds of potatoes to boil. We used red potatoes because we all like the skins. While they're cooking, make the meatballs.

To make the meatballs:
thawed raw ground beef
+/- 2 slices of bread, soaked in milk until really squishy, or a 1/2 c to a cup of bread crumbs, also soaked in milk until squishy-- about an equal portion of bread and milk
1 or 2 eggs
salt and pepper
mustard powder, allspice and nutmeg, about 1 tablespoon, 1 tbsp, 1/2 tbsp, more if you like them strongly seasoned
1 finely chopped onion, and it can be cooked ahead of time, but is just as tasty mixed in raw

Mix it all up. A fork or spoon will get it started, but to really make it uniform, take off all your rings and dive in with your hands. Gross, but faster and makes a much smoother and better mixed base, and you need to use your hands to make the meatballs anyway.

Ball them up into smallish meatballs-- about and inch and a half across. Go ahead and ball all of them up on a plate before starting to cook them.

Fry them in butter until cooked through. I usually plop them down and drop a lid over them so they start to cook on the top while the bottom is cooking, and so the moisture stays in. There'll usually be one that sort of falls apart-- sacrifice it to the flavor gods and make sure it's cooked through. This batch cooked in three installments, but I have a pretty big frypan.

Remove them to a paper-towel-covered plate to sit while the rest are finished. You may need to remove fallen onions from the pan between batches; put them aside and you can throw them back in when you make the sauce.

To make the sauce:
Once all the meatballs are done, add a tablespoon or so more butter and a few tablespoons of flour, and make a nice roux-- that sounds scary, but really you're just sucking up all the leftover meat-flavored grease with the flour. Cook it until it's just a little brown, sort of tannish. Then deglaze with beef broth or any other broth you have. I used veggie, which makes a lighter flavor sauce, but is still tasty.

Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens up into a gravy-like consistency. You can stop here, or, if it's tasting too bland, you can add a half-cup of sour cream and some mustard powder. (I actually added too much mustard, but it's still tasty, just... mustardy).

Make your mashed potatoes as you normally would, and serve meatballs and taters with the sauce, and add a dollop of lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce if you have it.

This made enough for all five of us to eat six meatballs and a huge heaping of potatoes apiece.

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