Most of us probably associate the humble meatball with Italian cuisine. Usually they’re cooked along with a tomato-based sauce and pay a nice compliment to that steaming bowl of spaghetti or are slathered between some pieces of Italian bread to make a meatball sub or meatball hero.
But, if you’ve ever been to something known as a smorgasbord then you’ve probably come to realize that the Swedish version of our meaty friend is just as popular among the Scandinavians as it is with the Italians. I’m pretty sure that the Italian version mostly consists of ground beef with maybe a little ground sausage whereas the Swedish version includes those staples as well as ground veal and ground pork.
Here’s what you need
I’d start off with about two pounds of any lean ground meats that I mentioned earlier or any combination thereof. Plop the mixture into a large bowl and toss in two eggs, a cup of milk, about a half a cup of breadcrumbs or if you’re feeling especially daring, substitute the breadcrumbs for a cup of mashed potatoes.
Next, chop up a medium sized onion and add some salt and pepper for taste. While you’re at it, you can add a couple of spices that you normally wouldn't consider in the Italian version. How ’bout adding some dry mustard? If dry mustard doesn’t float your boat then consider a pinch or two of nutmeg or maybe some allspice.
That takes balls!
Next, get ready to get your hands dirty. Start kneading all that shit together until all of the meaty goodness and spice combination(s) form a single unit. Then start rolling them into little balls by placing a dollop the palm of your hand and rolling them together. Depending on the size of your balls you can expect to get anywhere between 30 to 100 of them.
Here’s what you do
There are a couple tried and true ways to ensure that your balls will be the hit of the party. The first thing you have to decide upon is how you’re going to cook them.
For the novice, pan frying might seem like the best option. Get yourself a pretty huge skillet and add two or three tablespoons of cooking oil. (As for me, I use butter.). Get it up to medium high heat and fill the skillet about halfway with balls. Once again, depending on the size, fry the balls around 10 to 15 minutes. Every so often give the skillet a shake to ensure that any of the stubborn balls don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once they’re done, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel. Lather, rinse, repeat until all of the balls are cooked. In order to keep your balls warm you might want to consider placing them in a warm oven until it’s time for them to be served.
For reasons of simplicity I prefer to have my balls fried in the oven. Get a hold of a large baking sheet and plop said balls on the baking sheet and into a preheated 450F oven. They’ll only take about 10 to fifteen minutes for them to be cooked through and you’ll be good to go.
That’s a spicy meatball!
Plain balls are ok but in order to liven them up a bit you might want to consider dipping them in some sauce. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the fat from the pan fried or oven cooked balls and a couple of tablespoons of all purpose flour. Drop in a cup or can of beef broth, some water and some sherry or decent red wine and give it a good stir
Dump all of that into a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to thicken slather the sauce over your balls and place them on a serving tray.
Remember, a smorgasbord is meant to include many dishes and satisfy many different types of appetites. Your balls are just one small piece of the pie but if you do them up right you’ll have people talking about them for years to come.
Note: Just because the topic of my last write up was ben-wa balls please don’t make any assumptions about any morbid fascination(s) or fetishes I have regarding balls. I’m merely trying to fill in the holes as I find them.