Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grandma Elly's Norwegian Meatballs


When I was a little girl I couldn't wait for visits to my Father's parents' home. My Grandmother would never tell us when she was going to make them, but every time we got there for dinner I was hoping that the first step through the door would bring the wonderfully comforting aroma of her Norwegian Meatballs.

Basically, Norwegian Meatballs are the same as a Swedish Meatball, but my Grandma would never agree to that statement...she is Norwegian, therefore what she makes is Norwegian. By far, this was my favorite dish and one that I would always beg for my Grandma Elly to make for us.

Paired with stewed potatoes it is wonderful, but substitute them with some savory mashed potatoes and it is sheer heaven! Therefore, in honor of my 100-year-old Grandma Elly, I am sharing her recipe with everyone to enjoy. (with a few slight modifications) It's just too good to keep as a family secret.
Time to get into the meat mixing business. This can be mixed by hand (literally), with a wooden spoon or in a stand-up mixer. I am choosing the latter. I start by taking my ground beef and ground pork and adding them into the mixing bowl.
Turn the speed on low and allow the meat to mix together for approx. 2-3 minutes.
Then I toss in one solitary egg. Mix it all up on low speed just until the egg is well incorporated.
Then, in a small mixing bowl I pour my evaporated milk and either bread crumbs or Cream of Wheat. Grandma made these both ways, and I've never known which way I've preferred them...since I've never known when she used one or the other.
I add in a bit of black pepper and a little sea salt...Stir it together and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes.
Into the mixing bowl goes the Cream of Wheat mixture, speed stays fact, I pulse it so that the meat and bread mixtures don't topple over the sides of the mixing bowl. And I do this until it is well incorporated. (about 3 minutes)
Next add in your choice of the following: 1/4 onion, chopped. My small suggestion, "Adjust the amount of onions to your family's preference/tolerance." 
My family isn't crazy about onions, but this seems to be doable for us.
Time to give the meat a rest. Place it into the fridge for about 30 minutes, just to let things set-up a bit.
Once the meat has rested, I pull it out and start forming the meatballs. And unless you like getting really messy...I like to pull out my "white gloves" for this job. Simple latex gloves are marvelous for keeping that meaty mixture from sticking to your hands.
About 1-1 1/2 tablespoons is perfect for a golf ball sized meatball. If you like them smaller (so you feel like you get more bang for the buck) then by all means make them smaller. But for us, this is just right.

Place the meat mound into the palm of my hand and with both hands start rolling in around in circles until I get a nice little Meat-A-Ball!
Set it into a baking dish (or onto a baking sheet is fine too), to be dealt with in a few more minutes. Then back to making more meatballs until all of the meat mixture is used up.
Next, a good washing is required. And let me tell you, this stuff gets really sticky when you're rolling the balls. Even when wearing gloves that darned meat gets on you somehow. (it's the pork that does it, gets me every time I use it)
Okay, start warming up a skillet on medium high heat. There is no need for any oil, butter, etc. since there is plenty of fat in the meatballs themselves. 
Once the pan is hot, start placing the balls so that there is about an inch between each one. This will allow you to roll them as they cook so that all of the sides get browned.
Then it only takes a couple minutes one each side to get browned...
As the meatballs brown, I tend to move them to one side of the pan and then add a couple more to the pan to begin browning. 
Then remove the browned meatballs from the pan and place them into a large stock pot. DO NOT TURN ON THE HEAT! Just let them sit there while you brown the remaining meatballs. Once all of the meatballs have browned, pour in half of the beef stock into the pot.
Let's get to making the gravy for these bad boys! I start by taking some of the reserved beef stock and pouring it into a measuring cup. (this just works for can use a bowl if you prefer) Then add my cornstarch and start stirring until it's fully incorporated. No little balls of cornstarch allowed! Then add in the rest of my reserved stock and stir to incorporate the mixture.
Next, pour it into the stock pot and gently stir. I just want to get that mixture dispersed to help thicken the stock a little bit. (if you like it thicker, remove some of the stock and add more cornstarch a teaspoon at a time, making a mixture to add back into the stock pot)
Let it all simmer for a little while. I typically have a pot of potatoes boiling at the same time.
When the simmering is all through, lift the lid and just enjoy that aroma that greets you.
Then spoon a few of those meaty balls onto a plate and serve!

Pairing suggestions: Stewed potatoes or mashed potatoes, corn, lingonberry preserves. Cheesy Pub Beer Bread is really nice alongside as well (with or without the cheese).

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Grandma Elly's Meatballs 
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 60 min.
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 lb. Ground Pork
1 Egg
1/4 Chopped Onion
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper, finely ground
2 c Evaporated Milk
2 Slices Dry Bread/Plain Bread Crumbled, OR 4 Tbsp. Cream of Wheat
2 cans Beef Stock (or 32 oz. beef stock for more gravy)
1 Tbsp. Corn Starch (2 Tbsp. if 32 oz. beef stock is used)
1 Tbsp. Cabernet Sauvignon, optional

In a large mixing bowl, or a stand-up mixer, place ground beef and ground pork. Mix on low speed until incorporated. (about 2-3 minutes)

Add egg and mix on low speed until well incorporated.

In a small mixing bowl add the bread crumbs (or add Cream of Wheat), pepper, salt and evaporated milk. Stir together to incorporate and let sit for 2 minutes.

Add to bread crumb mixture to meat. Mix together on low speed until well incorporated. (about 2-3 minutes)

Add onions while mixing on low speed until incorporated.

Place the meat mixture into the refrigerator for approx. 30 min to firm.

Take a scoop of the meat mixture (approx. 1 1/2 Tbsp.) and place it into the center of your palm. Roll into a ball so that it is roughly the size of a golf ball. Set aside in a large bowl, baking dish or onto a baking sheet. Continue this process until all the meat mixture has all been used.

Take the meat balls and brown in pan in small batches over medium high heat. Allow enough room to turn each ball so that all sides get browned.

With tongs, carefully remove meatballs as they finish browning and place in a stock pot. (the meat inside is very tender and if too much pressure is applied, the ball will crack) When all meatballs have finished browning, add half of the beef stock to the stock pot and bring to a simmer.

Take a little of the reserved stock and pour it into a bowl or measuring cup. Add the cornstarch and mix until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add remaining stock into cornstarch mixture. Stir. Add mixture to stock pot, stirring gently just to incorporate it. Allow to simmer for 30-35 minutes over low heat.

Spoon onto a plate and enjoy!

Pairing suggestions: Stewed potatoes or mashed potatoes, corn, lingonberry preserves. Cheesy Pub Beer Bread is really nice alongside as well (with or without the cheese).

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