October 30, 2002
Swedish Meatballs

I'd had the urge to make swedish meatballs for a while now ... or, more accurately, I've had the urge to eat swedish meatballs for a while. I have, in fact, never made swedish meatballs in my life. Until now.

Looking through our cookbooks, I couldn't find a recipe I was perfectly satisfied with, so I ended up creating my own, based primarily on the Joy of Cooking recipe (I've reproduced my own recipe below). Slightly hampered by the fact that the ground beef in our fridge didn't smell so good, I decided to make the meatballs with only veal and pork. As could be expected, the resulting meatballs were slightly more delicate and mild in flavor than if I had used the beef ... but I think that's a small price to pay in an effort to avoid food poisoning. The recipes I looked at varied quite a bit in terms of spice content -- I came across suggestions including nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, fennel, allspice, cinnamon, and paprika. I stuck with what I found in the pantry and thought would be appropriate -- namely nutmeg, allspice, coriander, and white pepper. I added some chopped fresh parsley to the meatballs themselves, and saved the dill for sprinking on top of the finished dish. Someone in this household (I won't mention any names) isn't a huge fan of dill.

We served the meatballs over egg noodles with a creamy brown sauce made with pan drippings and sour cream, among other things. For a first effort, I thought the meal was pretty good ... but next time I do think I'll try using some beef in the mix as well. As for Carl, he enjoyed the meatballs even after I encouraged him to add some dill, and later reported that they were even better the next day at lunch.

Quasi-Swedish Meatball Dinner

Soak 1-2 thick slices of country bread in some milk in a large bowl. When the milk is absorbed and the bread is falling apart slightly, add:

1/2 lb. each ground veal and ground pork (beef also Ok)
a small-to-medium onion, finely chopped and sautéed until soft
2 eggs
the juice of half a lemon
spices and flavorings to taste -- nutmeg, allspice, ginger, coriander, cardamom, paprika, salt, pepper (but not all at once!), as well as fresh chopped dill and/or parsley

Make into balls of whatever size you like, pan-fry in batches until cooked through. Keep cooked meatballs in a warm oven while preparing pasta (i.e., tossing egg noodles into boiling water) and sauce.

For sauce, sprinkle some flour into the pan in which you cooked the meatballs and cook it into a bit of a roux. You should have enough fat in the pan for this, but feel free to add butter if you don't. When the roux is golden, add some sherry and about a cup or two of stock (I used beef stock), and stir until combined and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in a few tablespoons of sour cream, as well as anything else that strikes your fancy (Worcestershire sauce is always good).

Toss pasta and meatballs with sauce, sprinkle all over with dill, and enjoy.