Thursday, September 16, 2010

At Home with Hippocrene

It is now officially fall--the kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter, and, like creatures preparing for hibernation, we start to crave heavier fare. The supermarket displays of watermelon and fresh berries are replaced by apples, pumpkins, and a variety of squash. I decided to pick a hearty, but simple dinner that would be a good transition from summertime barbecues and fish tacos. It didn't take long for me to select Judith Pierce Rosenberg's recipe for Swedish Meatballs from A Swedish Kitchen.

Perhaps this is because my previous experiences with Sweden's national dish have taken place at IKEA, their unofficial ambassador to the world, usually getting items before school starts. The trip for a new bookcase or chair is always made better by a meal of meatballs in thin gravy with red potatoes and lingonberry preserves. And of course, you can stop by the market on the way out and get the gravy mix, frozen meatballs, a jar of preserves, and perhaps a box or two of gingersnaps. But with this recipe that would be a terrible waste! However, hopefully you have a jar of those preserves lingering in the back of the fridge. If not, Rosenberg recommends substituting whole-berry cranberry sauce or red currant preserves. When forced to do without, I  prefer the latter.

Swedish Meatballs (Kottbullar)
(from A Swedish Kitchen page 141)



Serves 4; 2 to 3 dozen small meatballs

1/3 cup finely ground plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 egg
1 1/3 pounds leanest ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Lingonberry preserves

Directions:

1. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for 5 to 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. 



2. In a food processor, finely dice the onion. Add the egg, ground beef, soaked bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and allspice to the onion. Pulse until throroughly blended. 
Note: I do not have a food processor, and used my blender. This turned out to be rather difficult, simply because of the different way a blender works. The mixture on the bottom was over blended, while the top portion remained the same. And cleaning a "meat blender" was certainly not enjoyable. The next time I make this dish I will try it by hand and see how that works. If you do it by hand, please let us know how it turns out!

3. Preheat the broiler and lightly grease a cookie sheet or broiler pan with oil. Shape the mixture into small balls, less than 1 inch in diameter. A melon-baller or ice cream scoop are handy tools, or you can use a plastic baggie to cover your hand. If it starts to stick to your hands, wet them with cold water.


4. Place the meatballs on the sheet; do not crowd them. If necessary, cook them in batches. Broil for several minutes, until browned, then drain the meatballs on paper towels.
When I opened my oven to check on the meatballs, they were just about done. Unfortunately my smoke detector thought otherwise! Opening the windows helped the situation, but I had to switch over to pan frying the meatballs to appease the moon-faced alarm watching over me. As you can see in the photos, both batches came out lovely. 

5. Serve the meatballs immediately. I served mine with red bliss potatoes boiled in their jackets, as the Brits say. You can also serve them over egg noodles (I like the No Yolk brand) with a gravy made from the broiler pan drippings. They are so moist and delicious they won't last long either way!



2 comments:

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