A wonderful thing about being a teacher is the multiple weeks of holidays, in which one can do ridiculous things like walk two and a half miles to IKEA and endure its meandering maze of homewares in order to eventually find a jar of lingonberry sauce to serve with dinner. Lingonberries are prevalent in Scandinavia and are similar to, although smaller and juicier than, cranberries. Ash originally wasn’t convinced at the idea of serving a variation on cranberry sauce with meatballs (he is very much opposed to ‘jam with meat’ despite being quite happy to eat applesauce with pork…) but had to at least try it after IKEA’s obvious advocacy of our chosen menu.
The recipe for this one came from a lovely book that we’re expecting to use again throughout our challenge, due to its recipes from a range of European countries: Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry. In fact, it was thanks to Diana Henry and her book that we learnt that lingonberry sauce was available in IKEA in the first place. The recipe in the book includes a fresh cranberry sauce with lemon and sugar, but we stuck with the lingonberry, partly because it’s more Swedish and partly because finding fresh cranberries at this time of year was going to be a mission and a half. Probably easier than finding fresh lingonberries, but still…
Swedish meatballs with creamy dill sauce
1 small onion, very finely chopped
2tsp ground allspice
1kg minced pork and beef
1 large egg, beaten
salt and pepper
2tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil (we used sunflower)
1 tbsp plain flour
400ml beef or chicken stock (we used beef)
200g sour cream
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill
1. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until the milk has been absorbed.
2. Melt 15g of butter and in it sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the allspice and cook for a further minute.
3. Mix the onion and the soaked bread with the meat and egg and season. With wet hands, form the mixture into balls a little larger than walnuts. For us, this made 50.
4. Heat half the remaining butter with half the oil and fry the meatballs in batches, making sure that they get a good colour on the outside. Put the cooked meatballs aside.
5. Heat the remaining butter and oil in the pan. Add the flour and cook over a low heat, stirring, until flour is golden. Take the pan off the heat and gradually add the stock, stirring well after each addition. Put the pan back on the heat and, stirring constantly, bring the liquid up to the boil and add the sour cream.
6. Turn the heat down low, add the meatballs, cover and cook gently for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken.
7. Taste for seasoning, add the dill and serve with the lingonberry sauce and boiled or mashed potatoes. (We also added some peas in pursuit of our 5-a-day!)
Having bought the ready-meal version of Swedish meatballs from IKEA in the past, and not been overly impressed, it’s good to see that this dish can actually be tasty and enjoyable (and most likely cheaper than £3.90 per portion) – although probably not diet food! The clove-like flavour from the allspice in the meatballs was nicely balanced by the tangy dill and sharp lingonberries, and the mashed potato soaked up the extra sauce. The peas worked really well too, giving a bit of freshness to an otherwise stodgy meal.
Our Scandinavian journey concludes next time with a foray into whatever traditional Danish cuisine turns out to be. We started discussing it earlier and Ash’s first thought was ‘bacon’ whilst Miranda’s was ‘Danish pastry’ – but we’d wager that there’s more to it than that!