Swedish Meatballs

The final recipe for our first World Bento from Scandinavia is Swedish meatballs.  You cannot get more Swedish than IKEA and Swedish meatballs.  And for those of you who do not know, IKEA’s cafe serves some pretty decent meatballs.  We obviously prefer making our own at home because you can control the quality of the ingredients, but if you are at IKEA, and feeling hungry, grab some as a snack.  IKEA’s little “grocery” and cafe section also serves some pretty delightful Nordic (and inexpensive) treats, that are worth a try if you are thinking of creating your own Scandinavian bento at home.

Kids generally love meatballs and they are easy to make “international”, and hence use the humble meatball as a vehicle to introduce the little ones to different flavors (and the world).  I make a rather delicious and often-requested Indian kofta (meatball) curry.  Then there is the “ever popular” Italian/American spaghetti and meatballs (“pasketti and eatballs” as we used to call them when the munchkin was younger).  The Middle East has a whole host of kofta (meatball) recipes.  Check out this article from the Huffington Post on 15 International Twists On Meatball Recipes for inspiration.  I am envisioning an International Meatball Party and perhaps even a “meatball swap”! 🙂

Swedish Meatballs – adapted from Alton Brown

Swedish Meatball | A Little Yumminess_Sweden

Ingredients

  • 2 slices fresh white bread
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided (used regular butter)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound ground chuck (used just beef and you can substitute with turkey)
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth (used chicken broth)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. (we did this by hand to save ourselves some washing up)
  5. Make tablespoon size meatballs and place on a sheet pan
  6. Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven. Do not overcrowd pan.
  7. Once all of the meatballs are cooked and in the oven, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

World Bento Tour: Scandinavia

We’ve fallen in love with the bento box and its friendly little compartments which has inspired a new theme for us: world bentos. There’s something about the format that just seems to invite your creativity — it also creates the perfect canvas for tasting and is just plain fun. Fill your bento with homemade goodies, store-bought or a mixture of both and you’re on your way!

Because starting with Japan would be too obvious, we headed to Scandinavia for our inaugural bento filled with Swedish meatballs, a refreshing cucumber salad and some heavenly creamed potatoes with dill. [Simran was dying over the awesome-ness of these potatoes, so I can assure you the recipe will be coming soon.] For dessert – our favorite homemade, whole grain hardtack crackers, Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese and berry jam.

Recipe for Hardtack – rest of the recipes coming soon

Ingredients

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 ½ cup buttermilk
1 ½  cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cup finely ground oats (finely grind the oats in a food processor before you begin)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease the bottom of 2 11×17 inch cookie sheet (or whatever size you have)
  2. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Set aside to cool briefly.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and buttermilk. Add remaining ingredients to make a stiff, sticky dough. Let stand for 10-15 minutes so that dough becomes less sticky.
  4. Divide into four parts and place one part each on greased bottom of two cookie sheets,
  5. Roll dough with rolling pin all the way to edges of cookie sheet. You want a very thin dough — less than ¼ inch. If it breaks, that is ok. Just press gently back together and smooth. Trim edges to make a neat rectangle. Pierce all over with a fork (all over!).  Score dough into 2”x4” rectangles, or the shape of your choice! Bake for 20-25 minutes until dark golden (but not brown) and crisp.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes, then break apart on score lines and let cool on cooling rack.
  7. Makes approximately 110 crackers. They will keep in tightly sealed container for about a week.