Today is a pretty important day. Firstly, it is the 2nd of February which means that we are at that stage in the seasons when the skies start to lighten, the air, although still crisp, is warmed through with beams of sunshine; all the better to remind us that spring is on her way. Secondly and most importantly, it is the birthday of the most spectacular Swede you ever did meet, my brother in law, Jon. Now, without going over the top, I have to tell you that he is a very nice man, with a very nice moustache and I am very pleased that he is married to my equally wonderful sister.
More importantly still, the fact that he is Swedish means that I get the opportunity to have a crack at one the best international dishes ever – Swedish Meatballs with Mustard Cream Sauce. I imagine that my rendition of this dish is a little lacking in authenticity, but my enthusiasm for making it totally outweighs any embarrassment I should feel, and so I dedicate this homage to all things Swedish, to the very nice Mr Jon Vall.
Here, the combination of beef and pork melds together to make deliciously dense meatballs; while the creamy mustard sauce adds a delicate kick to the proceedings. Traditionally, meatballs should be served with lingonberry preserve, a sweet – sharp sauce made with a delightful, tangy Swedish berry. You can find it in specialist shops, good delis or indeed, in the food department of your nearest Ikea! If you can’t get hold of any then the English equivalent is cranberry sauce, it is less superior than its Swedish counterpart but it is imperative that you serve the meatballs with some red, tangy variation. I do believe that the Swedes like to eat their meatballs with boiled potatoes or perhaps some plain noodles to soak up the sauces, but today I am serving them with a warm bowl of creamy mashed potato, all the better to keep in the warmth of all that birthday love.
SWEDISH MEATBALLS WITH MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE
For the meatballs
350g minced pork
350g minced beef
1 small red onion
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 allspice berries
3 black peppercorns
1tsp sea salt flakes
For the sauce
2 tbsp butter replacement (Pure Sunflower Spread)
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp Doves Farm Plain Gluten Free Flour
2 heaped tsp of mustard powder
250 ml hot beef stock
150ml Oat Cream (Oatly Oat Cream)
A small bunch of fresh parsley
Begin by peeling the onion and chopping very finely. Place the sea salt flakes, peppercorns and allspice berries in a pestle and mortar and grind until powdery, grate in the nutmeg. Then, using a food processor (you can do this by hand but it is much easier this way), blitz the onion, pork, beef, spices and seasoning until blended together and less coarse in texture. Scoop a little of the meat out with your hands and roll into an even 3cm ball – it really helps if your hands are a little cold – and set aside, in a single layer, on a lined baking tray or board. Repeat this process until you have used up all the mixture and have approximately 40 meatballs. Cover and place in the fridge and leave to chill for a minimum of 1 hour.
When you are ready to cook, heat half the butter replacement with the oil in a large, heavy based skillet or frying pan (just make sure that it is not non stick as you are going to scrape it later on) over a medium to high heat. Wait for the butter replacement to have melted in to the oil and then add the meatballs – in batches, roughly 8 at a time – and cook for 4 -6 minutes or until browned all over. Once sufficiently browned, remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining butter replacement, flour and mustard flour to the pan and stir vigorously to form a roux paste. Gradually pour in the stock, little by little, whisking as you go, scraping up any cooked on meaty bits that may be lingering at the base of the pan, so that you have a smooth, velvety sauce. Remove from the heat momentarily and pour in the oat cream, whisk together gently and sprinkle in the chopped parsley. Return the meatballs to the pan with their juices, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for a further 10 minutes until tender, season the sauce to taste and then serve piping hot with a good dollop of lingonberry preserve.