Monday, February 17, 2014

Olympic Party (3): Swedish Meatballs with Mushroom Gravy

If I had to pick a favorite dish from my Olympic party, I'd have to go with these Swedish meatballs. They were the first to make it onto my menu, and they'd be the first to ever be repeated on a future Olympic menu if I ever decided to repeat a dish (which I likely won't).

Once again, The Meatball Shop Cookbook has stolen the show. I have waxed poetic about both The Meatball Shop Cookbook and the restaurant in New York City on multiple occasions, so this shouldn't come as a surprise. Both the balls and their sauce are from this book, and I wouldn't change a thing. Not one.

I actually made these meatballs in advance (baked and froze them), and reheated them in the oven the day of the party. I also made the gravy the night before (minus the parsley) and then reheated it gently the day of the party, adding the parsley then to keep it fresh and green.

These meatballs are insanely moist and so flavorful. I mean, how could they not be with all the awesome flavors in there, from broth and heavy cream, to onions softened in butter with parsley, allspice, and mustard powder. And of course a mixture of both beef and pork keep these meatballs juicy and full of flavor even after reheating!

Add a spoonful or two of silky, mushroom-infused gravy and a sweet dollop of lingonberry preserves (from Sweden, no less), and you've got a pretty authentic rendition that will put any balls from IKEA seriously to shame.

Swedish Meatballs
Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs
(From The Meatball Shop Cookbook)

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices fresh white bread, roughly torn
1/2 cup beef broth (I used chicken broth)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound 80% lean ground beef (I used 93% lean and it was fabulous)
1 pound ground pork shoulder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil into a 9x13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface (I like to line it first will foil, for easy cleanup). Set aside.

Place the torn bread, beef broth, and cream in a bowl and let soak for 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until transparent, 6-8 minutes. Add the parsley, allspice, mustard powder, and flour and stir to incorporate. Pour the contents of the pan into the bowl with the bread mixture and stir until well mixed. Set aside to cool.

Combine the cooled onion and bread mixture with the ground beef, ground pork, salt, pepper, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching on another.

Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165 degrees F.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving. Serve with mushroom gravy (see recipe below) and lingonberry preserves.

Mushroom Gravy
Makes 4 cups
(Adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (you can easily scale this back to 1 tablespoon or less and then add more later if you are concerned or if your chicken stock/broth is salty at all)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme)
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or broth
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions have become soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook until almost all their liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the pan is almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and continue cooking until the stock is reduced by about half, about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the butter and flour in a small bowl and mix together with the back of a wooden spoon or fork until a smooth paste forms. Add the paste to the simmering gravy and whisk continuously until the paste has completely dissolved and the gravy has thickened (if your stock has over-reduced and the gravy seems too thick, just thin it out with some water or more stock to get desired consistency). Stir in the parsley and add pepper to taste.


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