I blame this dinner, in no particular order on: Catholic School; the American Girl Doll, Kirsten; St. Lucia; Ikea; the inventor of the “half birthday.”
Yesterday was St. Lucia Day, a fact my daughter knows about from I-don’t-know-how. It’s the only Saint’s day really celebrated in Sweden, and it’s celebrated with flair, with St. Lucia buns (don’ t go there, my husband has already made those jokes), and wreaths of lighted candles on young girls’ heads, and processions of girls dressed in white. Yesterday was also my daughter’s official half-birthday. And her one and most beloved AG doll is Kirsten, from Sweden. And both my kids love Ikea’s Swedish meatballs. So there was really no debate about what I had to cook for dinner. (Due to a soccer tournament we got out of making the buns.)
So, I pulled out the recipe from Kirsten’s cookbook, and in the 45 minutes between the end of the school day and carpool for gymnastics and soccer, I tried to pull it together. Surprisingly, I didn’t quite manage. The mixture came together quickly, but it was a little soft (not quite enough meat. I think), and I didn’t have time to fix it or to shape the meat balls. The solution? I dumped it all in a loaf pan and stuck it in my convection oven at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours (it shuts off automatically), left the house, and came home to Swedish meatloaf. It was actually good. It did actually taste like Swedish meatballs–mild and tender.
The downside: very few drippings for the gravy, so I had to improvise by adding chicken broth. The result was more than passable. The meatloaf was a big hit with the kids. The improvised gravy was big hit, the rye crackers with ligonberry jam was a big hit. I will leave you with a satisfied doll, who has brought hours of enjoyment to our girl, and now a new dish to our whole family.
The recipe follows, adapted from Kirsten’s cookbook. though you may need to improvise as well.
- 2 slices white bread
- 1/2 cup heavy cram
- 1/2 cup milk
- small onion
- 1 T butter
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
- dash nutmeg, cardamom, white pepper
- 2 T oil
- 1 T flour
- 1 cup cold water or broth
- Cut bread into small cubes and soak in mixture of milk and cream.
- Dice onion and sautee in 1 T butter until clear and tender. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, mix meats together.
- Add bread mixture, egg, salt, spices, and onions and mix well.
- Shape mixture into small balls.
- Fry meatballs in 2T oil until brown on all sides. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Turn down heat and whisk flour into pan drippings.
- Add water or broth and stir until gravy is thick.
- Return meatballs to gravy and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.