Finger Food Friday: Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

I have this one uncle who’s an outrageous cook.  Trouble is, he doesn’t share any of his recipes.  Not even the ones he inherited from other relatives and friends.  When I was learning how to cook, that used to frustrate me to no end.  These days, it challenges me to create better versions of his best dishes–all in good fun of course.  One of those dishes is Swedish Meatballs. My uncle used to prepare them for our family Christmas Eve parties.  I haven’t eaten his in many, many years.  But I remember them well.  They were moist and rich with curious spices that I now recognize as being nutmeg and allspice.  He served them in a light brown sauce that also had a distinct flavor.  My recipe is similar to his but I upped the ante on the meatballs with the addition of ginger and cayenne.  As for the sauce, I could never figure out my uncle’s exact ingredients.  But after trying a couple of different things, I found that a small amount of instant coffee gives my dish that familiar taste.  The flavor is subtle.  So don’t be turned off if you’re not a coffee lover.

Since a lot of recipes for Swedish Meatballs call for serving them with some sort of lingonberry or cranberry jam, I thought it would be nice to round out the evening with a Crantini.  If you care to join me, simply combine 2 ounces of vodka, 3 ounces of cranberry juice and a lot of ice in a shaker.  Once the shaker gets too cold to handle, strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass and sip away!

Until next week …

Swedish Meatballs Recipe

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3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup half-n-half
1 egg
1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper


3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Wondra Gravy Flour
3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup half-n-half
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee

FOR MEATBALLS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and garlic; saute until tender, 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  In a large bowl, whisk egg with half-n-half.  Stir in bread crumbs and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes.  To bread crumb mixture, add cooked onions and garlic, ground meat and remaining ingredients; stir to combine.  Shape meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls.  Place meatballs on a large rimmed baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

FOR SAUCE:  In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in flour.  Cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes.  Gradually whisk in beef broth.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, stir in half-n-half and coffee and cook an additional 5 minutes.

ASSEMBLY:  Add meatballs to sauce, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve immediately with toothpicks or transfer to a crock pot or chafing dish to keep warm.  Makes 10-12 appetizer servings.


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