Sweden isn’t exactly one of the countries that first comes to mimd when I think “rich food traditions” but hey, I’ve been to IKEA a few times so I suppose that is enough experience for me to look to this Scandinavian wonderland for some food epiphany. Admit it. You have eaten in their food court too.
Plus I recently tracked my heritage on my dad’s mom’s side to Scandinavia, specifically Norway and a little further back, Sweden!
Also, one of my absolute favorite “celebrity” chefs is from Sweden by way of Ethiopia, Marcus Samuelsson. Great story of survival and ultimately adoption. He is now famous here in the US and has an award-winning restaurant in Harlem, the Red Rooster. My son gave me his The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem cookbook for Christmas and I have made several things out of it and love it. We especially loved his “Obama” Short Ribs, which he made for the former president, and the Brussels with Bacon Dip. His food is a blend of Ethiopia, Scandinavia, Latino, Caribbean, and Soul Food, just like the historic neighborhood the restaurant sits in (well, I doubt there isn’t a very large Scandinavian influence there, until he brought it). Molly has been there and said it was fantastic!
Back to meatballs. This particular recipe is actually not from that great cookbook and honestly I am not sure where I got it but let me tell you, it is excellent.
This is pretty simple, in fact, if you have made any meatball in the past, you will recognize a lot of it, except that there will be some unique spices involved (allspice, nutmeg and the sort), and of course the ubiquitous sour cream at the end for a delicious “gravy.”
1 cup bread crumbs
1½ teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup minced onion
2 thick slices bacon, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
¾ pound ground pork
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sour cream
In a medium bowl, whisk together the bread crumbs, sugar, salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and browned, about 3 minutes. Place the onions in a large bowl and set aside to cool. Wipe out the pan and return to medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and crumble it into the bowl with the onions. Reserve the bacon fat. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the beef, pork, and eggs into the onions and bacon. Once well combined, gently fold in the bread crumb mixture. If mixture is too dry, add a little of the beef broth. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll the meat mixture into small balls (I like to use our cookie dough “clicker”). Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add enough meatballs to form a single layer and brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the Dutch oven with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Once all the meatballs have been browned, whisk together in the Dutch oven 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat and the flour until a smooth paste forms. Stir in the remaining 3 cups broth and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Add in the meatballs and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until the meatballs are fully cooked, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the sour cream, and serve with lingonberry preserves (traditional but you can use any – we just recently used sour cherry and it was perfect) and mashed potatoes but egg noodles would also be nice.