Scandi meatballs with cream sauce (Serves 4)
Traditionally served at buffets, smorgasbords or at midsummer celebrations, meatballs – or, as the Swedes know them, köttbullar – vary slightly from family to family and town to town. While opinions may differ on whether to use beef, veal or a mixture of beef and pork, with a thick sauce or a thin gravy, köttbullar are always accompanied by a generous dollop of lingonberry jam. Use a cranberry or redcurrant sauce if you can’t get hold of any lingonberries.
30g butter, plus extra for frying
1 onion, finely chopped
30g crustless white bread (stale bread is good)
500g minced beef and pork, mixed (250g of each)
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp chopped sage
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 tbsp plain flour
175ml regular or double cream
175ml chicken stock
juice of ¼-½ lemon, to taste
lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce
Melt half the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until completely tender. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
While the onion is cooking, break up the bread, place in a small bowl and cover with the milk. Leave to stand for
10 minutes or so to absorb all the milk.
Place the minced meat in the bowl, add the allspice, nutmeg, sage, the onion and the bread, then season with salt and pepper and mix well. Place a frying pan on the heat. Break off a small piece of the mixture and fry it in a little butter, then taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Shape the mixture into 24 balls, about the size of a walnut in its shell. Cover and place in the fridge overnight, if you wish. When ready to cook, place a large frying pan over a high heat, add the remaining butter and allow it to melt and foam. Tip in the meatballs and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning the heat down slightly once they are a golden colour. When they are cooked in the centre, transfer them to a dish to keep warm.
To make the sauce, add the butter to the pan the meatballs were cooked in and, using a whisk, stir in all the lovely juicy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the flour and continue whisking for a further 10-20 seconds. Gradually pour in the cream and stock, whisking all the time to prevent it going lumpy, and bring to the boil, then cook for 1 minute. Taste and add lemon juice and seasoning.
Place the meatballs on warm plates, pour over the hot cream sauce and serve with lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce.