Perhaps it’s their romanticizing of the wintry elements. Or their devotion to the lingonberry. Or even their ridiculously chic eye for sensibly designed and incredibly affordable furniture. I’m really into all things Swedish this week. Especially their meatballs.
Having had a great Scandinavian-inspired meal while visiting the charming Upstate New York city of Hudson last weekend, I’ve had Sweden on the brain. I opted, you see, for the Dill-Baked Arctic Char (which was good, don’t get me wrong), but my tummy has yet to let me forget how much I really wanted to order the meatballs.
Finally giving in, I’m happy to say that I came up with something a few steps above the IKEA food court (whose space-aged lighting and compartmentalized serviceware will always have a place in my heart). I heavily spiced a mixture of beef and pork and loaded up on egg, which really helps to keep these meatballs moist. Top them off with a bit of toasted caraway gravy and the obligatory dollop of lingonberry jam and it’s on all night long.
Lucky for us all, they’re even easier than DIY furniture to assemble (plus these instructions actually have words).
Super-Sized Swedish Meatballs With Toasted Caraway Gravy
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons dried sage
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
For the gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
Salt and ground black pepper
Lingonberry jam, for serving, optional
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it with nonstick cooking spray or lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well to combine (note that the mixture will be rather wet at first as a result of all the eggs – just keep mixing and it will come together). Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, portion the mixture into large meatballs (about 1/4 cup each) and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the meatballs until golden brown and cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, place a medium pot over medium heat with the butter. Add the caraway seeds to the melted butter and toast until aromatic, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook, stirring well, to make a smooth paste, about 1 minute. Add the beef stock to the pot and bring the liquid up to a bubble, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the gravy, stirring occasionally, until thickened and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the meatballs topped with the gravy and a hearty dollop of lingonberry jam.
NOTE: I like to grate the onion and garlic over a Microplane tool when mixing them into meatballs like this. It cuts down on my having to bite into a big chunk of onion and also gets their flavors infused throughout the entire mixture.
BONUS: I like to round out this meal with a simple kale salad. My favorite dressing for it is a creamy tahini-lemon blend that’s super easy to make. In the jar of a blender, combine 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 grated cloves garlic and some salt and pepper. Blend to a smooth paste, adding a splash of water as needed to loosen the mixture.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.