Traditional Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar)
My close friends, photographers Chris Makos and Paul Solberg (http://www.thehiltonbrothers.com/) are currently having an incredible time touring Sweden. They sent me this beautiful photo of Swedish meatballs prepared by Chef Tomas Lindh at the Hotel Skepps Holmen's wonderful restaurant. (http://www.hotelskeppsholmen.com) Chef Tomas Lindh unites "the best of Swedish cuisine with inspiration both of today's cooking and of traditional ingredients, with a modern twist, high quality and a bit of humor." I was happy to learn from my friends that Chef Lindh uses a combination of pork and beef in his recipe, which I feel adds great flavor and texture to the meatballs. Of course there are probably as many versions for Swedish meatballs as there are chefs. Every Scandinavian cookbook has at least one recipe, usually several! One thing that rarely changes - the side dishes - which are most always Buttered Noodles, Pickled Cucumber and Lingonberries.
1 large egg
1/4cup heavy cream
1large slice high-quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces ground pork
1 small onion, grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/4 cup)
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces (85 percent lean) ground beef
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
For the Meatballs:
1. Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside.
2. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, dry mustard, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary.
3. Using fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary.
4. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary.
5. Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
6. Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
For the Sauce
1. Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds.
2. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.
3. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
SWEDISH PICKLED CUCUMBERS
1 pound pickling (Kirby) cucumber (3 small), sliced very thin (use mandolin if possible)
1½ cups white vinegar
1½ cups sugar
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon table salt
12 whole allspice berries
1. Place cucumber slices in medium heatproof bowl.
2. Bring vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, salt, and allspice to simmer in small saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers and stir to separate slices.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Pickles can be refrigerated in their liquid in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.