Tue 11 Oct 2011
Thanksgiving has rolled round once again (I know, I know, not yet for those of you in the States), and I have a question for you out there in the internet ether: does your family have any idiosyncratic food traditions?
I mean, not everyone on the planet celebrates Thanksgiving, but still; We tend to eat meatballs at Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas, though they are not what everyone would picture at their holiday feast. I have a certain Italian friend, whose family tradition is to make cannelloni (from scratch) to go with their otherwise Americanized Christmas dinner. When I mentioned I was making meatballs for Thanksgiving to another friend, she was surprised, saying, My family does that too! I thought we were the only ones. What do you eat on holidays that may be a little off the beaten path?
This year, I’m thankful for: living in a lovely country, in a lovely (now not so broken) home, with my lovely Mister. I’m thankful for the health and vitality of my nearest and dearest who surround me. I am thankful for being loved, and for having the great fortune of having people to love as well. And, if you’re here reading, I’m thankful to you as well. This project has brought me so much joy, and if it wasn’t for you it wouldn’t be as special.
When my mum sent out the email to the family to see who wanted to bring what for the dinner, I signed up for the meatballs. These were what I made. I’m also thankful for these meatballs.
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 Cup panko breadcrumbs
2 1/2 Cups beef stock
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices of bacon, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp sour cream
Pour 1/2 Cup of the beef stock over the breadcrumbs to moisten them, set the bowl aside. Melt the butter in a medium sized skillet and saute the minced onion until caramelized. Add the garlic to the pan, and stir constantly until very fragrant, do not let the garlic brown.
Transfer the contents of the pan into a bowl, and return the pan to the stove. Fry the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Add the bacon to the bowl holding the onion and garlic, reserving the bacon fat. To the bowl, add the moistened bread crumbs, ground beef and pork, eggs, pepper, allspice and nutmeg. Mix with your hands to blend, but do not overwork; the more you work the mixture the tougher your meatballs will be. Using a tablespoon measure or scoop, roll the meat mixture into balls.
Reheat the bacon drippings in the pan and brown the meatballs, in batches, in the remaining fat. If you have a cast iron pan, use it here, it browns them perfectly. While finishing the browning process, allow the browned meatballs to sit on a lining of paper towel, so that the excess fat is blotted away. When all f the meatballs are browned, reserve 2 Tbsp of the drippings, and use them to create a roux with the flour in a pot. Stir in the remaining 2 Cups of stock and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring often to retain smoothness as it thickens. Add the meatballs to the pot, cover and simmer 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.
Serve with mashed potatoes, lingonberry preserve (to be traditional) or maybe even cranberry orange relish. It is Thanksgiving after all.
The mixture of beef and pork in this recipe gives the meatballs very good texture, but please use lean ground beef to help counterbalance the fat levels from the ground pork. And really, if you’re going to listen to any of my advice, please do not overwork your meatballs. You and your meatballs will be happiest if they are handled as little as possible before cooking. I love the sauce, though simple, it is Tasty. I don’t know much about the Swedish, but I certainly enjoy their take on meatballs.
Meatballs are one of Mister’s favorite things, though he generally goes for the sweet and sour sort first. Mister says Swedish meatballs are: super tasty and melt they melt in your mouth. Definitely make again worthy.
This time last year: Cranberry Orange Relish