OK, back to some actual food-related content!
Sunday I made meatballs. But not just any meatballs. I made Swedish-Norwegian meatballs!
What makes them Swedish-Norwegian meatballs, you ask? Well, for years now, I have been making a recipe based on Marcus Samuelsson's Swedish meatballs in his Aquavit cookbook.
But, as I am mostly Norwegian and not at all Swedish, I took a page out of Norwegian chef Andreas Viestad's Kitchen of Light cookbook. Viestad makes a Norwegian pork meatball stuffed with prunes.
So I am combining elements of both recipes - Swedish-Norwegian prune-stuffed meatballs!
Of course, this isn't going to stop me from adding a few twists of my own.
Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with lingonberry jam on the side. Lingonberries grow in the Arctic tundra, and the jam is not always easy to find (nor is it especially cheap). As I am in Minnesota and have access to my Mom's homemade wild raspberry jam, I am using that as a substitute.
Also, I added small amounts of ground mace, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg - all of what I consider to be earthy, warming "Scandinavian spices," if you will. They add a very nice flavor to the meatballs.
Oh, the sweet pickle juice in the sauce? That was Samuelsson's idea, not mine. Sounds weird, but it works so well, imparting a sweet/sour flavor that plays nicely will the sweet flavors of the raspberry jam, and the savory, rich flavors of the sauce.
I am sure I have ruined the authenticity of the dish. But the meatballs taste great, and I do think they would still go a long way towards bringing the Swedish and Norwegian people closer together.
Swedish-Norwegian Prune-Stuffed Meatballs
-inspired by Marcus Samuelsson and Andreas Viestad
(makes about 24 meatballs)
-2 shallots, minced
-1 t. olive oil
-1 lb. ground beef
-1 lb. ground pork
-1 cup of fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs, chopped fine
-2 T. half & half
-1 1/2 T. honey
-1/4 t. ground allspice
-1/4 t. ground mace
-1/4 t. ground ginger
-1/4 t. ground nutmeg
-Salt and pepper
-12 whole dried prunes, halved
-Butter and olive oil for frying
-1 c. beef stock
-1/2 c. half & half
-2 T. raspberry jam
-2 T. juice from a jar of sweet pickles
-Several turns of fresh ground black pepper
Sweat the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
the meat in a large bowl. Soak the bread crumbs in a little bit of half
& half to moisten, then add to the meat mixture. Add the honey, egg, allspice, mace, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
Take a small piece of the meatball mixture, roughly the size of a golf ball. Flatten it slightly and place a piece of prune in the middle. Fold the meat mixture around the prune to completely seal it and form into a meatball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. You should have about 24 meatballs.
a large, deep skillet, fry the meatballs in batches in a
little butter and olive oil until nicely browned, but not cooked all
the way through. Transfer to a warm plate.
In the same skillet
where you cooked the meatballs, add the beef stock, half & half, raspberry jam, and pickle juice. Bring
to a boil and reduce to a simmer, allowing to thicken slightly. Season with black pepper, Return
the meatballs to the sauce, allowing them to cook through, perhaps
15-20 minutes or so. If you find the sauce needs additional thickening, add 1 T. corn starch mixed with 1 T. cold water to tighten it up.
Serve with mashed potatoes and some extra raspberry jam on the side.