Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweedish Meatballs

Bishop Hill IL is an historic village in central Illinois not far from where I grew up. It is a place my mother likes to visit for day trips, and she got this cookbook for me several years ago. Bishop Hill began as a group of Swedes seeking religious freedom in this country. They were a utopian, communal society which flourished for 15 years befrore disbanding shortly after the Civil War. You can see pictures of the chamring village and read more about its history here.

This book contains 6 recipes for Sweedish Meatballs, I chose to follow Alfhild Bergen Oberg's recipe. Ground Allspice and Cloves are two spices that all of the recipes have in common. Oberg's recipe did not include cream, many others did. I served the meatballs with mashed potatoes and a spoon of Sweedish Lingonberries. I also had some terrific beef gravy left from a brisket dinner, so I did not use Oberg's recipe for gravy, but I included it as written in the cookbook.

1 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs or crackers
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbls butter
3/4 ground beef
1/2 ground veal
1/4 ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon each nutmeg, ginger, ground allspice, and ground cloves
2 Tbls butter

Soak the bread in the cream for about 5 minutes. Saute the onion in 1 Tbls butter til soft, but not browned.

Mix the meats, the crumb mixture, onion, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves until all ingredients are well combined.

Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Brown the balls in 2 Tbls of butter.

Remove the balls from the skillet and make gravy (recipe follows), add the meatballs back to the skillet in the sauces and simmer ther for 30 minutes.

2 Tbls of butter
2 Tabls flour
1 1/4 cup rich beef stock
1/4 tsp instant coffee
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour off most of the grease from the meat balls, add 2 Tbls of butter to the pan and lightly brown the flour. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil, whisking until the gravy is thick and bubbling. Taste for seasoning befor adding the meatballs back into the gravy.

My personal pet peeve about meatballs are that they are usually hard little hockey pucks of meat floating in sauce:making really good meatballs lies in forming the balls. It takes a light hand. You need to form them so that they stay together when browning and cooking, but to compress and pack them too tightly makes for dense and unappetising meatballs, so remember to always use a light touch.

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