The sky is darkening, the wind is howling around our little Hornsea house, and it appears Armageddon is just around the corner. What do Erik and myself do? Start building an ark, or digging a tunnel? No way. We decide what’s more important than anything in this dire weather is to do what all sensible people do – eat some proper comfort food. And as it’s my turn in the kitchen, I’ve made that final decision to cook a Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy recipe – Ultimate Comfort Food.
Erik’s grandparents were Swedish immigrants to America – and they used to look after him during school holidays. Grandma Ranghild used to bake and cook then bake some more, and Meatballs were often on her menu, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I put on my apron and applied myself to this very important task. Scouring my cookbooks for what I believed to be the real recipe for Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy, Lingonberry Sauce and Mashed Potatoes, I couldn’t find one that ticked all the correct boxes. Dill in one, nutmeg in another, allspice in yet another one, so I asked Erik for his advice. He said “Put it all in – it should be comforting and gently spicy at the same time.” So here is my recipe, made up from about 5 different recipes. And yes, I know. Lingonberries aren’t used, because I couldn’t get them in East Yorkshire. IKEA is about a 2-hour drive away. But a spicy mixed berry jam worked just as well. Erik was well-pleased!
This Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy Recipe is a mixture of about 5 recipes, but the most important one is from "Snow Flakes and Schnapps" by Jane Lawson. She uses Vodka in the gravy, but I prefer Madeira or Sherry, so the choice is yours. I served this with a not too large portion of very creamy mashed potato decorated with dill fronds, and some Savoy Cabbage leaves thinly sliced and stir-fried quickly and sprinkled with black pepper and a tiny pinch of dried chilli just to cut through all the creamy tastes, and to be honest, it tasted absolutely brilliant, even if I say so myself. I was thrilled, and so was Erik.
- 160g (5 1/2 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- 185ml (6 fl oz) whipping (pouring) cream
- 350g (12 oz) minced lean steak
- 350g (12 oz) minced pork
- 1 large egg
- 1 onion, very finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1tsp ground allspice
- 1 - 2 tsp caraway seeds, ground
- 1tbsp chopped dill
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 1/2tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
- 435ml (15 fl oz) hot beef stock - homemade, or from liquid stock or stock cubes)
- 2 tbsp Madeira or Medium Sherry
- Extra dill to garnish
- Lingonberry preserves (or a fairly tart Berry Jam)
- Process the breadcrumbs and 125ml (4fl oz) of the cream and leave to sit until the breadcrumbs have soaked up all the liquid.
- Add the beef and pork mince, egg, onion, nutmeg, allspice, caraway seeds, chopped dill, salt and white pepper and mix well.
- Using your fingers and hand, roll the mixture into 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) balls and place in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. IMPORTANT: Cover and put in the fridge for 3 - 4 hours so that the flavours develop.
- When ready to cook, heat half of the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat (do not use a non-stick pan for this).
- Cook the meatballs in batches for 4 - 6 minutes each, or until browned all over. Remove carefully with a spoon and set aside. (Half-way through this,the pan may get a bit 'gungy' so scrape out the bits, reserve for the gravy, and use more butter and oil and finish off frying the meatballs.)
- Add the remaining butter and the flour to the pan and stir. Gradually whisk in the hot stock and remaining cream, add the Madeira or Sherry, and scrape up all the cooked on bits from the meatballs. Keep stirring and bring to the boil, until smooth and thickened slightly. Add a tablespoon of the lingonberry preserve (or tart berry jam) and stir.
- Return the meatballs to the pan along with any juices and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Season to taste.
- Garnish with the extra dill, and serve a big spoonful of the lingonberry preserve or tart berry jam on the side.
So here is my Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy Recipe – so unbelievably comforting and full of flavour and better than I had anticipated. Why not have a go at the Ultimate comfort food – it will really make you happy. Have fun.