Meatball Mayhem Ep. 1: The Swedish Meatball Sandwich

Swedes, it sometimes seems, are known only for cheap furniture, Nordic beauty, and of course meatballs.  Having explored their cuisine to a certain extent I know a few of its  other stars–they have an astounding variety of pickled herring that I find almost physically arousing.  But the meatball is a utilitarian crowd pleaser, and with the recent horse meat flap perhaps more will attempt to make their own, rather than purchasing them at Ikea (though it’s still a great place to pick up a few jars of lingonberry jam and a kerswozzleplunk).

I have a Swedish friend who most likely considers the idea of placing her homeland’s meatballs on a roll blasphemy, but this is a Philadelphia food blog, and Philly is a city of sandwiches.

Eschew the roll if you must, but it will be much more difficult to eat standing up.

Swedish Meatball Sandwich

Mise en Place

Equipment

  • stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment
  • large bowl
  • large pot
  • potato ricer or masher
  • deep fryer, or large dutch oven and spider
  • 2 cooling racks set over a half sheet pan
  • large saucepan
  • wooden spatula
  • whisk

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1b ground pork, the fattier the better
  • 1 onion, grated with the large wholes of a box grater
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 lb ground beef

Sauce

  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • juice of 1 lemon

Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes cleaned, peeled, and quartered, kept covered with cold water in a large bowl, until ready to boil
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • soft, long sandwich rolls
  • lingonberry jam

1) Make the meatball mix, as you bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Beat together the cream and egg, pour over the bread.  When the cream is absorbed mash with a fork. Place the ground pork, onion, cream-soaked bread, nutmeg, allspice and baking soda in bowl of the stand mixer.  Mix at high speed until the pork fat is whipped into a smooth paste.  Add the ground beef and at mix at low speed until just combined.  Season generously with salt and cracked black pepper.  Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill.

2) Make the mashed potatoes.  Drain the potatoes and transfer to the boiling water for 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife.  When the potatoes are nearly finished melt the butter in a large saucepan.  When it ceases to foam add the half and half and stir, until it begins to steam.  Drain the potatoes. Rice the potatoes into the saucepan, heating the contents gently, and stir with a wooden spoon until a desired texture is reached.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

3) Shape and fry the meatballs.  Heat the canola oil to 375 degrees in the deep fryer or on the stovetop in the dutch oven.  As the oil reaches temperature shape 2 tbs of the meatball mixture at a time into balls.  Fry the meatballs in batches for 5 minutes, or until dark, golden brown, transferring them to the cooling rack set over a sheet pan as they finish.

4) Make the sauce.  In a medium saucepan melt the butter, adding the flour when the butter stops foaming.  Mix together with the wooden spatula until combined.  Add the chicken stock a few tbs at a time, mixing with the spatula each time.  After the first cup of stock is added you can add the remaining stock one half a cup at a time, and switch to using a whisk to stir.  When the all of the stock has been added and the sauce is smooth, maintain a gentle simmer until it has reduced by about 1/3 and begins to thicken.  At this time add the meatballs, cream, and lemon juice and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

5) Assemble the sandwiches.  Reheat the potatoes, adding a tbs of butter and splash of  milk to loosen if necessary.  Split the rolls and smear the bottom half with mashed potatoes.  Top with meatballs and lingonberry jam.  Eat the first sandwich standing over the sink like a fat kid.

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