When my sisters and I were growing up, we got to pick anything we wanted for dinner for our birthdays and Mom would whip it up! I don’t really remember ever requesting a special birthday cake for dessert because Mom wasn’t really a baker (well maybe a Carvel cake with chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a layer of those really, really good chocolate crunchy things! ) No, really it was all about the main course! And I lucked out because I got to have two special birthday dinners because I’m a twin. So my sister Patty and I would make sure we didn’t pick the same thing and we would await two nights in a row of our favorite dinners.
I think my top two choices over the years were my Mom’s special crepes (a later blog post for sure) or her Swedish meatballs. And I am not talking an IKEA version (because when I was growing up IKEA hadn’t even opened in the United States). So this is “Mom’s famous version”. The rich, creamy gravy smothered over rice or noodles (or just plain out of the pot spoonful after spoonful when no one’s looking) has C- O- M- F- O- R- T food written all over it! When you make the gravy you use the same pan that you browned the meatballs in so those wonderful little brown bits at the bottom of the pan give the gravy an absolutely delicious flavor. You can make the meatballs dinner size or make mini meatballs to serve up as an appetizer. Either way it’s a tasty recipe that will leave IKEA crying the blues!
- <b>Meatball Ingredients</b>
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2/3 cup yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cups plain panko bread crumbs
- 1 lb. ground beef I use 80/20
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
Heat butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onions, salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the milk. Bring to a simmer.
Place the bread crumbs in a large bowl. Take the onion mixture off the heat and pour over the breadcrumbs. Stir till combined. Mixture will resemble a thick paste. Let mixture cool.
Place beef, pork and eggs in a large bowl. Add the bread crumb mixture and mix until evenly combined. Do not overmix or your meatballs will be tough. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls. I made about 24 meatballs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Gently add the meatballs in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to a large casserole dish or Dutch oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the gravy: In the same skillet you used to cook the meatballs melt the 4 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes until smooth. Whisk in the beef broth and Worcestershire. Bring to a simmer. Add the fresh parsley and the heavy cream. Reduce the heat and continue whisking until the gravy thickens (about 10-15 minutes). Season with the kosher salt and pepper. Pour the gravy over the meatballs in the casserole dish or Dutch oven and bake for 20 minutes. I like to serve over rice pilaf, small noodles or mashed potatoes.