Sunday Dinner: Swedish Meatballs & Egg Noodles

After an exhausting week we decided to have a quiet Sunday night at home, just the two of us. Silka must have spent Saturday night dreaming of the upcoming holidays, because she woke up Sunday morning with her heart set on a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve dish: köttbullar, or Swedish Meatballs.

With the exception of Ikea, Swedish meatballs are probably one of the best recognized cultural exports of Scandinavia. And for good reason - they taste amazing! Throughout our month-long visit with Silka's relatives on Gotland we saw them on almost every menu, each time with a twist unique to the restaurant. But - as with most classic dishes - we're pretty convinced that our family recipe is the best. Wiveg/Fagergren meatballs are moist and light with lots of onions and plenty of butter. We use a three part mix of beef, pork, and veal (when we can get pastured or rose veal) and the resulting gravy is dark and meaty. 

The dish comes out a little different every time as Silka tinkers with her recipe, scouring traditional Swedish cookbooks to get them just right. And these were! We served the gravy-covered meatballs with some simple egg noodles in a caraway butter sauce and salad. The "plainness" of the egg noodles was a perfect balance to the rich, flavor-packed meatballs and the caraway seeds added a nice textural kick. Traditionally, the köttbullar would be served with lingonberry jam - a crucial part of the meal. Not only does it add color to an otherwise gray and brown plate, but the fruity acid cuts the heaviness of the rest of the meal. The salmbärssylt - another native Gotlandish jam - in our fridge was a perfect substitute.

After stuffing ourselves, we had some freshly-baked classic ginger cookies, or pepparkakor. Cookies, we learned from our visit, are a major part of Swedish daily life. Whenever you take a coffee break (which happens a lot in Sweden!) or finish a meal, an endless selection of cookies magically arrive on the table. It was too late for coffee, so we dunked our crispy cookies in some herbal tea, and settled into our food coma to watch TV.

Meatballs in Gravy
+ ½ lb beef
+ ¼ lb veal
+ ¼ lb pork
+ ½ cup bread crumbs
+ 1 ½ cups, half cream half water mixture
+ 1 egg
+ 3 tablespoon onion, chopped
+ 2 tsp salt
+ butter for frying
+ salt and pepper 
+ water and/or red wine 
+ pan drippings
+ 1 tablespoon flour
+ 1 cup cream
+ salt and pepper

1. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet and saute onions until golden brown.
2. In the meantime, soak the bread crumbs in cream/water mixture.
3. When finished, remove onions from pan and combine with meat, egg, bread crumb mixture and salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.
4. Shape balls, using about 2 tablespoons per ball. Fry in batches with butter over medium-high heat until evenly brown. After each batch, clear the skillet with water or wine and gather drippings in a container to the side. Our meatballs are never perfectly round, or even close. But that doesn't effect the taste at all! When all the balls are cooked, set aside and cover or keep in oven to keep warm.
6. In the skillet, mix flour, cream, and reserved pan drippings. Simmer for 10 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, add more cream.
7. Serve with gravy poured over meatballs.

Egg Noodles in Caraway Butter
From Martha Stewart 

+ coarse salt
+ 8 ounces egg noodles
+ 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
+ 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
+ 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley - we didn't have any, but we thought they were fine without

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I'm totally stealing the buttered noodles with caraway seeds recipe. It looks just about perfect for a chilly November night.