07 May 2015
Of course, no smorgasbord would be complete without meatballs. And perfect for Mad Men-era cocktail party menus, Swedish meatballs also make a main dish the whole family will enjoy.
I first had them when I was 12. I only remember because that was when my self-employed father took on some work about 200 miles from home, testing the waters in another area with an eye to possibly moving there. For the next 18 months, we saw him only on weekends. My mother and I hit the road every Friday afternoon to visit him in his temporary home.
And every Friday evening we had dinner out. One of the places my father had discovered was a family-owned Swedish smorgasbord restaurant that was popular with the locals. I liked my first dinner there so much that I continued to get the exact same thing every time we went there over the next 18 months. You know how kids are!
I got different side dishes from time to time, but Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes (Kottbullar med Potatismos) every single time. Not being Swedish, I make no claims to authenticity; but these tender meatballs do taste very much like I remember those first Swedish meatballs of long ago. (If you prefer, here are my Italian meatballs.)
Swedish Meatballs - Svenska Kottbullar
(Makes about 34, 4 main-dish servings)
About 2 slices good white bread for 3/4 packed cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups lower sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Garnish: sour cream and chopped dill
1 Use food processor to make perfect fresh breadcrumbs. Cut two slices (you might need a third slice, depending on your bread) of good white bread into four to six pieces. You only need to remove the crust if it's coated with seeds. Process until it becomes breadcrumbs. Don't worry about overdoing it; it's pretty foolproof. You should have 3/4 cup, fairly firmly packed. Add crumbs to a 2-quart mixing bowl.
Update 07/02/16: I've since acquired (and become addicted to!) an immersion blender, and it has a handy dandy little mini processor/chopper bowl that works beautifully for the small amounts in this recipe. If you don't have one, don't wait as long as I did to get one!
2 Cut a small piece of onion into a couple of chunks and use the food processor (no need to clean the bowl) to finely mince the onion. Saute in oil until soft. Add to bowl.
3 Add salt, pepper, allspice, milk, egg and Worcestershire sauce to bowl. Mix well. Add ground beef and ground pork, and mix well. Just use your impeccably clean hand to mix, if you like. Put mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before shaping.
4 Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas6. Using a #60/0.5-ounce/1 tablespoon scoop, scoop out all the meatballs; you should get almost 3 dozen. Place them on an oiled rimmed baking sheet (13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan is perfect for this), then go back and roll each one into a smooth round ball and place back on the sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
5 In 12-inch skillet (10-inch okay if it has straight sides), melt butter. Stir in flour, cooking and stirring to make a smooth, browned roux. Don't rush it; get the roux browned. Add beef broth and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and cream. Transfer meatballs to sauce. Heat on low for 10 minutes.
6 Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkling of dill.