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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

Score big points with Swedish meatballs


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The holidays are over, but for football fans, the party is just getting started. With the countdown for Super Bowl 2014 underway, the playoffs are upon us. And, everybody knows that game days require lots of hearty, homey food to nosh on.

These Swedish meatballs fit the bill nicely. They’re compact, easy to eat and can be made ahead so that they’re on the table before kick-off. Plus, these meatballs are the bomb! Seriously. Ikea had better watch out.

As with most traditional ethnic dishes, you’ll find as many different recipes for Swedish meatballs as there are cooks who make them. The inspiration for my meatballs came from celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, who got the recipe from his Swedish grandma. When a recipe comes from a famous chef’s grandma, you just know it has to be good!

The plump and moist, meaty little nuggets are delicately seasoned with fragrant spices such as cardamom, allspice and nutmeg before being bathed in a rich and velvety cream sauce. A few nontraditional ingredients, including honey and pickle juice, really put them over the top.

You can prepare the meatballs a day or two before you need them, and then just heat them up in a chafing dish or a crockpot set on low when you’re ready to serve them.

Serve them with some lingonberry or red currant preserves and some pickled cucumber slices and watch your guests drool.

Swedish Meatballs (loosely adapted from Marcus Samuelsson)

Note: This recipe calls for lingonberry preserves, which can be a little tricky to find. If you can’t find them, you can use red currant jelly or preserves, which will work just fine.

Serves 8-10

For the meatballs:

1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

ª pound ground chuck or sirloin

1 pound ground veal

1 pound ground pork

4 tablespoons honey

2 large eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cardamom

3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more as needed

For the sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

1 quart chicken stock

1½ cups heavy cream

½ cup lingonberry preserves* (See Note)

4 tablespoons pickle juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the breadcrumbs and heavy cream in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes, until softened. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, veal, pork, onion, honey and egg, and mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the breadcrumb mixture and mix well. Shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a golf ball, placing them on a plate lightly moistened with water. You should have about 40 meatballs.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a large, deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about 4-5 minutes until browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a platter and start the sauce.

Return the skillet to the heat and melt the 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour. Keep stirring and cook the flour and butter until the mixture turns a light brown color. It should look like the color of coffee with cream.

Whisk in the stock, about a cup at a time, whisking constantly. Then whisk in the cream, preserves and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve hot with lingonberry preserves and pickled cucumbers.

Find more amazingly easy recipes at Susan Filson’s blog, stickygooeycreamychewy.com.

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