Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Meatball Madness and the New York Wine and Food Festival: Classic Norwegian Meatballs

I have recently completed working the New York Wine and Food Festival here in NYC. http://nycwineandfoodfestival.com/  It is one of my favorite albeit trying projects I do every year with my company and have done for the last five. Wow, five years, that's a long time. Well anyway one of the events which came about this year was called Meatball Madness. It was an celebration and a total homage to the mighty Italian meatball. That's right Italian meatball, not meatball in general but Italian meatballs. Now don't get me wrong there are probably many folks including me who enjoy an Italian meatball but really, do you have to limit it to just that type, can't there be room for other kinds of meatballs? Now this exclusivity probably has something to do with the fact that Giada De Laurentiis is the host for the evenings festivities and her shows are centered around Italian Cooking. Hence the Italian slant to the event. However, after five years I have to say i was tired of the taste and flavor profile being only red sauce and basil with cheese. I mean there are so many creative cooks out there why not open it up to the broad range of flavors and ethnic spices that could be really impressive as a show of culinary inspiration. I mean who doesn't love a meatball by any name!

So with that in mind and a rainy Monday evening I set out to make a meal which would be a direct antidote to the singular Italian flavor profile of meatballs I had had at the festival. Meatball Madness indeed! I would make an Americana meatball with a country flavor profile and a Scandinavian twist!

Growing up in my family we split the heritage factor in 2 parts. One part southern and one part Norwegian via the Midwest queen city of Chicago. It's the norwegian part that figures in on the meatball front. Now here in the states Swedish foods and Swedish style ( thank you IKEA) has sort of overshadowed the rest of the Scandinavian peoples that have food and cultural heritages. Hence, Swedish meatballs not Norwegian meatballs are what everyone knows about. But I am here to tell you the Norwegians know a thing or two about meatballs as well. They differ in flavor profile and in the sauce or gravy. But most importantly they are NORWEGIAN and not Swedish! Cause calling them Swedish just pisses off the Norwegians!!!

So when I go about making meatballs I follow my Grandmother's lead and make them in the fashion if not in the direction of a Norwegian meatball. You could even say that the classic midwestern meatball came from the Scandinavians who came to these shores and settled in great part in the Midwest states. Either way I wanted to reclaim the meatball from my east coaster friends who grew up feasting on meatballs in Sunday gravy. I also decided I would make some side dishes to go along with these meatballs. Traditionally Norwegian meatballs are served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jelly. it really is a comfort food meal and I love used to love them as a boy. I can remember they would always make an appearance around the holidays. On a buffet for a party or served at a dinner they could always be counted on for some delicious fun!

Now I don't cook for a crowd everyday but that is certainly one of the recipes I reserve for those occasions. Today however I wanted to take it up a notch. So I tweaked my Grandmother's recipe and came up with one that is a little bit different. I use a little  bacon in the meatballs and has the also uses a rich cheese and sour cream sauce as the gravy. So give them a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy Ya'll

Norwegian Meatballs from the Gabrielson Family Recipe

For the Meatballs

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs (I like crushed panko)
1/2 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 pieces finely chopped bacon

For the Gravy:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream
dash cayenne pepper
1 dash white pepper
optional: 4oz of gjetost cheese shredded

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, bread crumbs, onion and seasonings. Let stand until crumbs absorb milk. Add meat; stir until well blended. Shape into 1-in. meatballs. Place on a greased jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees F until browned, about 18 minutes. Set aside.
  2. For gravy, melt butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute onion until tender. Stir in flour and brown lightly. Slowly add broth; cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Blend in cream, cayenne pepper and white pepper and cheese. Gently stir in meatballs; heat through but do not boil.

Serve with my potatoes colcanon if you want to really kick it up! http://cookforrestcook.blogspot.com/2012/03/st-pattys-potato-joy-potatoes-colcannon.html

No comments:

Post a Comment