Monday, October 3, 2011

Ikea Knock-Off Swedish Meatballs

I have been missing out.  I didn't know that Ikea was the mecca for Swedish meatballs, but apparently people drive for miles to eat them in their cafes.  I recently saw a recipe that was supposed to be a knock-off of their recipe in the October 2011 Food Network magazine (another one that jumped into my cart at the check-out lane).  It was very, very good, so I wanted to share it with you.

Ingredients (Meatballs):

1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup minced white onion (I used frozen)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork (I had to go to a real meat market to find this)
1 large egg plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Ingredients (Sauce):

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp flour (or Wondra, which is super-fine flour and is easier for sauces because it doesn't clump)
3 cups beef broth
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
Parsley (for garnish)

First, make the meatballs.  This is a great do-ahead step.  I even made a double batch of meatballs and froze half of them uncooked.  Now it will be very quick and easy the next time that I want to make this.  Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl.  Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Yes, I did put a picture of butter melting in here.  I hope that it made your day.  Add the onion, garlic, allspice, salt, and white pepper to the pan.  I confess, I think that this is the first time that I have ever used allspice, but from here on out it is known as "Swedish Meatball Spice" because that is what the main taste in these is.  Cook it all, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  You want the onion to be soft.

Add the milk and Worcestershire sauce and bring it to a simmer.  That's when you can see the steam coming off of it and it is bubbling a little bit.  

Okay, this next step is kind of weird.  You are going to pour the hot mixture from the skillet into the breadcrumbs.  Don't be alarmed if they immediately absorb all of the liquid.  Stir it all up to make a thick paste.  You will probably want to let it cool off a bit at this stage, too, since you are about to get your hands in there.  Whenever it is cool enough to work with without skin grafts, proceed.

Now add the beef, pork, and eggs to the bread crumb paste.  You will want to take off all rings, watches, and artificial nails now.  Get in there with your hands and mush it all together until it is pretty homogeneous.  

Next, grease a cookie sheet pan with Pam, roll the meat into balls, and line them up like little soldiers on the pan.  I used my cookie scoop to make them about the same size, then rolled them into little balls by hand.  Yes, I will wash the scoop thoroughly before I use it for cookies again.  One batch of these meatballs made about 30 1 tbsp-sized balls.  Cover them with Saran wrap and stick them in the fridge for at least an hour to get them chilled and firm, or into the freezer if you want to save them long-term.

When you are about ready for dinner, bake them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Be sure to chop one or two in half to make sure that they are cooked all the way through before proceeding.

Now make the sauce.  You are going to want to add the meatballs to it later, so look for a really, really big saucepan or, even better, and electric skillet, which is what I used.  Melt the butter in your skillet of choice on medium heat and then add the flour, whisking it until it is smooth and non-lumpy.  Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth and bring the whole thing to a simmer.  Add the cream and the meatballs.  Now reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the gravy thickens to your satisfaction.  Season it with salt and pepper if you want.  I served it over egg noodles.

These were really, really tasty and is the new favorite recipe here.  That other batch of meatballs in the freezer isn't going to make it very long.  

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