Monday, October 23, 2006

Swedish meatballs

The butterfly lady's heritage means we have Swedish meatballs every now and then, and not just for holiday meals. I usually whip up some mashed potatoes and such, too.

I suspect that there are as many recipes for Swedish meatballs as there are cooks who make them. Here's mine:

For the meatballs
Ground beef (the market here sells ground beef, curiously, in an 18-ounce package)
Bread, torn into small bits (I save heels for just this purpose, and used the equivalent of six slices)
A half of a large yellow onion, finely minced
1/2 to 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 to 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/8 teaspoon garlic salt
2 large eggs
For the gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 to 3 cups milk (I use 1 percent)
About 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
About 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix together the meatball ingredients. Your hands are probably the best tool for this job. Form into roughly 1.5-to 2-inch-diameter balls. When I made these over the weekend, I got 29 meatballs out of this recipe.

In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter or heat up some oil. Brown the meatballs in batches. You'll find that they need to be seared completely on a side before they'll move nicely in the pan. If they stick, you're probably trying to rotate them too soon. When each batch is done, set the meatballs aside.

In the same pan on medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons butter and whisk in the flour. Whisk for about a minute, then whisk in the milk. Whisk until roughly homogenous, then whisk in the nutmeg and pepper. A pinch of salt won't kill anyone, either, especially if use unsalted butter.

Arrange the meatballs in the gravy and simmer for about 30 minutes. I like to let the dish sit off heat for about 5 minutes after the cooking has stopped, then serve!

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