Monday, April 21, 2008

Swedish Meatballs

The Recipe

3/4 cup bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1 cup cream, divided
1 onion, medium-finely chopped
1 egg
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp (generous) ground allspice
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk

Stir 1/2 cup of cream into bread crumbs in a large bowl. Let sit 5 min. Add the onion, egg, ground beef, salt & allspice. Combine with your hands (this will not be easy, since the breadcrumbs are now like cement, but you'll get it.) and shape into meatballs*.

Melt butter in skillet over med-hi heat. Add the meatballs in two batches and brown; remove to plate. Sprinkle flour over pan drippings and stir to form roux, making sure to scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add remaining cream and milk, whisking continuously. Bring up to boil; add meatballs and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or so. Serve over noodles. Easily feeds a family of four with leftovers for lunch.

The Story

This is not for the weak of heart or the high of cholesterol. Only have this dish twice a year, even if your health is good. Savor it like crazy when you do.

This is a (very slight) variation of a recipe from "Many Hands Cooking: An International Cookbook for Girls and Boys" by Terry Touff Cooper and Marilyn Ratner. I started my cooking career young, since my parents hated to cook and I showed some promise in it. I made all sorts of ghastly things involving hot dogs, frozen vegetables and canned soup that my folks and I found in pamphlets and on the backs of boxes & cans. Rarely was fresh food involved. When I was ten, my grandmother bought this cookbook for me for Christmas; I quickly found recipes that we would eat (Dad was picky) and went to town. These meatballs are among the best.

The sad thing is, I never got to thank my grandmother. She was the kind of person who bought gifts well in advance of holidays. She bought this book for me for Christmas, but she died in the summer and it was given to me when her house was cleaned out.

Thanks, Grandma.

Last year, at a library book sale I found the sequel "Many Friends Cooking" by the same two authors. I snatched it up immediately. I haven't made anything from it yet, but maybe it's time to teach my oldest to cook more things...

One thing that I have changed is I now cook with organic butter/meat/cream/milk. Unfortunately, the organic label doesn't change the fact that this dish has enough saturated fat in it to suggest you should put a cardiologist on speed-dial. Man, though, as a splurge- it is yummy.

*note on meatball size: I always made these too big. Swedish meatballs are usually small, cocktail size meatballs, but I'd make them the size of meatballs you'd find with spaghetti. My mother even went so far as to buy me a scoop to try to make them the small size. I never did it. I still don't. Make 'em as big as you want.


tata said...

Sharon, that is a lovely story.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank Sharon for teaching me how to make meatballs, over the phone, some 25 years ago! I don't believe they were Swedish, but listen to her...she knows what she is talking about!!

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