A month ago, Anna Desiatnyk wrote in on behalf of her mother-in-law, who was hoping to find a big-batch recipe for Swedish meatballs that would be suitable for freezing. From Lorna Tergesen we have a rich version from the 1969 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook that her family always enjoys on Christmas Eve. Anne Baetsen sent in a recipe from a favourite Margo Oliver cookbook for meatballs that can be frozen in separate batches and then thawed to form the basis of different dishes. (Sometimes Anne adds teriyaki sauce and serves with rice, or uses a tomato sauce to make spaghetti and meatballs.)
It's fitting to offer these recipes today, as we welcome to our city the Scandinavian retail giant IKEA, which is known for selling Swedish meatballs that are both good and cheap. (You can get a 20-meatball dinner for only $6.99. Something to do with economy of scale, we think.)
This week, Jo-Anne Findlay is looking for a moulded Waldorf salad that her mom, who passed away two years ago, used to bring to family dinners. She would like to make it this Christmas. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
2.7 kg (6 lbs) ground beef
750 ml (3 cups) fine dry bread crumbs
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) finely chopped onion
750 ml (3 cups) whole milk
20 ml (4 tsp) salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) pepper
2 ml (1/2 tsp) nutmeg
15 ml (1 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce
125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
75 ml (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
3 x 284-ml (10-oz) cans beef broth
800 ml (3 1/2 cups) water
In large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onion, eggs, milk and spices. Mix well and shape into balls about 2.5 in (1 in) in diameter. Heat some of the oil in a large skillet, adding more oil as needed, and brown meatballs a few at a time, removing them as they brown. Sprinkle flour into drippings in skillet and stir to blend. Remove from heat and stir in beef broth and water. Return to heat and cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Divide meatballs into 4 large freezer-proof containers. Pour about 425 ml (1 3/4 cups) sauce over the meatballs in each container. Seal and freeze. To use, thaw and then cook on stovetop for 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through.
Tester's notes: This versatile meatball recipe can be used as the base for a number of variations. For holiday dinners, Anne swaps in some ground pork, increases the nutmeg and adds some allspice. She advises placing individual meatballs on a cookie sheet and freezing briefly before placing them in containers, to prevent them clumping up.
900 g (2 lbs) very lean ground beef
225 g (1/2 lb) ground pork
500 ml (2 cups) soft bread crumbs
170 g (6 oz) cream cheese
40 g (1 small packet or 1/4 cup) dry onion soup mix
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) nutmeg
625 ml (2 1/2 cups) whole milk, divided
30 ml (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for frying
In large bowl, thoroughly combine meat, bread crumbs, cheese, soup mix and spices and 125 ml (1/2 cup) milk. Spread this mixture onto an 45x30x2.5 cm (18x12x1 in) cookie sheet. Divide the pan by cutting the meat into small even squares, for a total of about 40-50 squares. Shape these squares into balls and dust with flour. In a frying pan, heat some oil and brown meatballs on all sides, adding more oil if needed. Remove meatballs as they brown to an oven-proof casserole. Drain off excess fat from pan, leaving approximately 60 ml (1/4 cup) into which you blend remaining flour. Stir in remaining 500 ml (2 cups) milk and cook until thickened and bubbly. Pour over meatballs and bake for about 1 hour.
Tester's notes: These are very, very rich meatballs. (As Lorna writes, this is "not a Weight Watchers recipe!") Spreading the meat onto a cookie sheet for dividing is a smart, easy way to get consistently sized meatballs, and I found dusting the meatballs with a little flour really helped the meatballs keep their shape. I needed to add vegetable oil at the end to augment the pan drippings, perhaps because ground beef and pork are leaner now than they were in 1969. I didn't have leftover flour for the sauce, so I added about 30 ml (2 tbsp). I also replaced some of the milk with beef broth. I found the meatballs absorbed the sauce during baking (though these moist meatballs didn't really need a sauce).