Saturday, 26 May 2012

Swedish Meatballs

Once upon a time, when I was a much younger woman, I worked for a man by the name of Dave.

Every year, our office would host a Christmas Luncheon, and everyone brought in their special dishes. 

Mine were Caramel Squares (which were promptly devoured), Dave's were Swedish Meatballs.

I would be lying to you if I told you that I waited ALL.  YEAR.  LONG.  for these crazy meatballs.  And I would try and sneak out at least seconds - but generally they were gone.

So I begged of Dave the recipe, and he brought it in for me.

It was a happy day.

That year for Christmas, my brother and his wife got me a Slow Cooker (crockpot, what-have-you).

I couldn't wait to give the all-famous Swedish Meatballs a try.

And so, fairly inexperienced in the kitchen, I set out one day to make my grand attempt.

And an attempt was all it would be.

For starters - the recipe says to broil the meatballs quickly until browned.  I had no idea what that meant.  So when they looked sort of brown, I pulled them out.

Then the gravy....  Ugh.  I do recall reading to add the water and consomme GRADUALLY, whisk until no lumps were left then bring to a boil and thicken.  But I seem to think that I dumped the water and consomme into the pot with a hope and a prayer.

It separated.

But I figured - it'll come together in the slow cooker FOR. SURE. 

*sigh* I was so young then.

So everyone went into the pool and left on low for 8 hours.

When I pulled the lid off at the end, all that I had to show for things was a gloopy, congealed mess.  It kind of looked like spoiled canned cat food. 

Needless to say, I was incredibly disappointed.  And the bowl of my slow cooker still bears the stains of the mess.  And I was scared of my slow cooker. 

That's weird right?  Is anyone else besides me scared of an appliance?  Maybe those electric knife thingys.

A number of years later, I e-mailed the good people at Company's Coming and told them my disaster story and asked for some helpful hints that would make the next go-round more of a success.

And they REPLIED!

How awesome are they?

The lady who e-mailed me suggested baking the meatballs in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes and reducing the time in the slow cooker, as Company's Coming is no longer suggesting putting raw or undercooked beef into a slow cooker.

I have held onto that e-mail since November of 2009.

And when it occurred to me to make another attempt, I pulled it out.

Here's how it went.

First, mix together the milk, breadcrumbs (I made my own by toasting cut up slices of bread at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes), onion, fork-beaten eggs, allspice, salt, and pepper.

I'm sorry about this picture - there's really no way to NOT make that look like a horrible pukey mess
Then mix in the pork and beef (I used elk here).

Shape into balls.  I used a cookie scoop and it worked quite brilliantly.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 - 20 minutes.  I baked them for 15 minutes and they were pretty well all the way cooked through.

I waited until they stopped sizzling and then threw them in the bowl of the slow cooker.

While the meatballs were baking, I used that time to make the gravy.

Mix the salt and flour into a saucepan and heat it up.  GRADUALLY, add the water and consomme, whisking so there's no lumps and cook until it's thickened.

Let's just say....  This SO did not happen last time.

After the meatballs were all in the bowl of the slow cooker, pour the gravy on top, set the slow cooker to low and cook for 5 to 6 hours.

On this particular day, I woke up with a nasty headache and had to wait for some time for it to subside.  So I didn't even START putting these together until noon.  By the time they were finished it was almost 8:30 and I was STARVING.

I guess the only question that remains is - how were they?

I tried desperately to remember what Dave's tasted like.  But it's been - oh, 4 years or more since I've had them!  I DO think that Dave's sauce was a little more creamy - like, maybe he used milk instead of water?  And there was a lot more of it.

I guess that I would say that the sauce would definitely have to be doubled.  The meatballs were juicy and tender and a little delicate, when I was scooping them out onto my plate a few of them fell apart, so they might need one or two minutes more in the oven. 

The meal itself was delicious and I enjoyed every last bite!

Now I just have to figure out how to make the meatballs keep their bally shape.....  This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

PS - I'm not posting the recipe here - because I'm not sure about the "rules", especially when it comes to Company's Coming.  You can find the recipe in their Slow Cooker Recipes book.

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