The 1950s and 1960s saw a love of all things Nordic: Dansk tableware, Danish furniture, and Scandinavian food (ever attend a smorgasbord buffet party?). Swedish meatballs became a staple of many an American childhood, often made simpler for home cooks with the addition of cream of mushroom soup. But really, it's the rolling and cooking of the balls that takes the most time. Making the gravy is a 5-minute job. So try this from-scratch version and enjoy the real thing.
Break bread slices into small pieces and put in a medium bowl. Pour milk over bread and toss with your hands to moisten evenly. Set aside. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the onion in 1 tablespoon butter with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Drain excess milk from bread, squeezing lightly. Add to the bowl of a standing mixer (or if using a hand-held mixer, leave in bowl). Add onion, pork, eggs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, allspice, and pepper and beat until smooth, 3 minutes, scraping down sides occasionally as you go. When mixture is smooth, break ground beef into very small pieces and stir just until evenly distributed.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large (ideally at least 14-inch) pan over medium heat. Add a batch of balls to pan and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. When the first batch is done, put in a deep, covered ovenproof dish and transfer to oven to keep warm. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and brown second batch of meatballs. Repeat as needed; transfer all the meatballs to the oven while you make the gravy.
Increase heat under pan to medium-high. If your pan has some drippings, add 2 tablespoons of butter; if not, use 3. Add flour and salt and whisk; the mixture will be crumbly. Add broth 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly until smooth. Add cream at end and stir well. Pour gravy over meatballs and return to oven for 10 minutes before serving.
In this issue: Thoreau's Maine
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