Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 173! Sweden - Svenska Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs) Up Next, Switzerland

Having just emerged from my Thanksgiving food coma, I am back on track. First, a huge thanks to my (beautiful, blonde and Swedish) childhood friend, Mary, for her thorough consultation on Swedish recipes. Mary graciously and generously offered up a list of dishes her grandmother made, and from it, I picked what I suspect is the most often cooked: Svenska Köttbullar, Swedish Meatballs. I know, I know, I typically like to venture out to the unknown, but I have an emotional attachment to these party favorites. See, my Mom, who is not blonde or Swedish, but IS beautiful, used to make these on a regular basis. I can still remember the retro-robin's-egg-blue enameled casserole dish she'd serve them...and oh, the sour cream...sweet, sweet sour cream sauce, topped with lovely frondy dill. So, while I know there must be hundreds of other more exciting or complex recipes that reflect Sweden's beautiful culture, I'm sticking with Svenska Köttbullar, because Mary recommended them, my Mom made them and hey, it's the Holiday Season, and they're a most awesome appetizer or main course!

Located in Northern Europe, Sweden is Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is bordered by Norway and Finland, and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel that crosses the Øresund. Dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen who excelled in trade, despite constant attacks by Nordic Vikings who raided and ravaged the European continent. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden became a unified Christian kingdom that later included Finland. Queen Margaret of Denmark united all the Nordic lands, but tension between Norway/Denmark and Sweden/Finland persisted. Following conflicts with Russia, Saxony, Denmark and Norway, the Swedes reign of power was diminished  with further loses occurring during the Napoleonic Wars. During WWI and WWII, Sweden declared and maintained a status of armed neutrality, which continues today. Sweden's progressive government boasts one of the highest living standards in the world and is a globalized and competitive economy.

Food in Sweden varies greatly by region. To the north, reindeer and game meats are enjoyed, while to the south, those with Sami roots rely on fresh vegetables. Meatballs, gravy, ligonberry jam, dairy, bread, stone-fruits, berries, beef, pork, seafood and fish are commonly eaten. Potatoes, mashed or boiled, soups and butter are also staple items.

The Basics: fresh bread crumbs, beef stock, butter, minced onion, egg yolks, and flour

Nutmeg, allspice and salt season the meat

Lean beef, veal and pork - you can omit the veal if you wish - but really, why would you?

Soak fresh bread crumbs in water for a minute or two

Use two spoons dipped in water or your hands (my preferred method) to shape the meatballs

Fry meatballs in butter until browned, then drain on paper towels

Make the gravy: mix flour into skillet, add broth, then whisk in sour cream

Lunch, dinner, cocktails, appetizer or snack 

Svenska Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs) - Recipe Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced onions
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup water
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound lean ground veal
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups beef stock
Freshly chopped dill for garnish

In a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onions and saute, stirring often until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the bread crumbs and water. Let stand until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved onions along with the beef, pork, veal, egg yolks, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice. Beat on low speed until smooth. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Using 2 spoons (or your hands - my preferred method) dipped in cold water, shape the meat into 1-inch balls.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Cook the meatballs in batches of about 15 to 20 at a time and brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels before removing to a warmed serving platter. Cover to keep warm. When all the meatballs are cooked, reduce the heat to low and add the flour to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Slowly add the beef stock. Whisk in  the sour cream. Cook, whisking, until the gravy is thick and smooth. Strain, if desired. Pour the gravy over the meatballs and serve hot, garnished with dill.

© 2010-2011, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved


witchywoman said...

I have to say, Sarah, that your recipe for Swedish meatballs looks a lot better than the recipe that I used when I made these for Sweden. Mine were terrible, both looking and tasting...great job, my friend!

Sylvie + family said...

Bonjour Sarah, this definitely sounds season's dish ! Do you think it's possible to freeze them ? Once cooked, or raw ? Take care.

sadie said...

Thanks, Laurrie - I hope you'll go back and try this one. I think you and Bob would love it ... and, I can't really imagine you making anything terrible! xoxo

sadie said...

Bonjour Sylvie! Yes, you can freeze them raw or cooked! Enjoy and Best to you and your family.