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Swedish Meatballs in an Irish Kitchen

Swedish meatballs -- the final frontier in my meatball journey. A few years ago, I set out to make as many kinds of meatballs that I could dream up. I made Italian, Asian, Indian, Moroccan and even Reuben meatballs but for some reason, I stopped at Swedish. Until a few months ago when Mary came over to show me how to make lefse and she brought a container of Swedish meatballs so we could make Swedish burritos. Those meatballs, with their cardamom flecked pork/beef mixture and creamy gravy, were a game-changer for me (the freshly made lefse wrapped around the meatballs didn't hurt either).

I decided to tackle the iconic Upper Midwestern meatball in my own kitchen and I have to report, these meatballs passed muster at our monthly Let's Do Lunch cooking class at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Bayfield. And that's saying a lot for a Swedish meatball recipe developed in an Irish kitchen! 

Swedish Meatballs

1 pound pork sausage
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Gravy

4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 cups beef stock
1 cup sour cream

Preparation

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs, salt, pepper and spices, and then add the milk, set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet and cook the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. After the onions are cooked, place all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and, using your hands, thoroughly combine. Shape into small meatballs. Heat the remaining butter in the skillet you cooked the onions in and gently brown the meatballs on all sides (about 7 minutes). Place them on a sheet tray in the oven to keep warm. 

To make the gravy, blot the grease form the skillet (leaving most of the browned pan drippings behind). Add the butter and melt over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, or until brown and bubbly. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly stir in the stock and cook until gravy is thickened and does not taste 'floury'. Stir the sour cream into the gravy and  cook for another 3 - 5 minutes. Put the meatballs back into the skillet, cover, and cook over low heat for another 10 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes.