How about some Scandinavian comfort food to warm up with?
1) I don’t know why I keep putting up cozy food for weather conditions I’m not currently experiencing. I live in a climate where it’s easier to convince myself it’s the season for raw kale and green juice, but I guess after over 2/3 of my life spent in places with actual winter weather, these are cycles I can’t break. So, meatballs, anyone?
2) Please know that I mismashed a few recipes for Swedish meatballs from all over the internet, and as I’m neither Swedish myself nor have I ever eaten any meatballs in Sweden or an Ikea, let’s just focus on the question of whether these taste good. Yes, they do. Moving on.
I’ve been pretty obsessed with the idea of a proper plate of meatballs with mashed potatoes, pickles, and tart jam ever since I discovered this little Swedish cafe in Sydney (see above re Sweden). I ate them on a drizzly morning alongside a giant mug of steamed chai and life was grand. I went back again for the chai but not the meatballs, because the weather warmed up and these really do feel like the best thing to eat when it’s colder outside. But since I’m headed back to Sydney this week and it’s currently drizzly and cold here, I thought this was a nice time to revisit them.
Plus, I hear Winter is a great time to practice hygge…?
I have to admit that I’m not 100% sure what hygge is supposed to be, other than they had a party about it on Younger and it seems to be just Instagrams of people lounging in their PJs all day. Supposedly it’s like a cozy life or something? I’m not really convinced I can do that, because I have to pay my rent, and even if I don’t know what hygge is I’m fairly sure it’s the complete opposite of my office environment, so, not gonna happen.
But I’m happy to apply that concept to the food I eat! Meatballs are certainly cozy, no? Especially with a cream sauce and paired with potatoes mashed with butter and… more cream. It’s meatballs and a triple cream whammy, really. Plus pickles.
Wait! Is hygge just what you do when you can’t fit into your jeans anymore because you ate an entire batch of meatballs tossed in a gravy made entirely of reduced cream?
I am nailing hygge.
Make these and you can too!
Swedish Meatballs and Potato Mash
Adapted from Food & Wine
For the pickled cucumbers:
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 tbs kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch allspice
For the meatballs:
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbs plus 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 cups boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes
- 1/4 cup finely diced onion
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
For the mashed potatoes:
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- heavy cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Make pickles: in a colander, toss cucumbers with the salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
- In a pot, combine water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf and allspice and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Rinse the cucumbers and squeeze to remove as much water as you can, then transfer to a large glass bowl or other non-reactive container and pour the pickling mixture over the cucumbers. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
- Make the meatballs: First, make the mashed potatoes if you don't have extra around. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and peel and quarter 1 1/2 lb russet potatos. Boil potatoes until just able to pierce with a fork. Drain and run potatoes through a ricer or food mill. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and let cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixture or other large mixing bowl, combine eggs, cream, salt and pepper with the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Let sit 10 minutes. Add the meats, the mashed potatoes and onion and mix with the paddle attachment until combined, about 30 seconds to 1 minutes on medium-high speed. This will tighten the mixture up a bit to give you springier meatballs.
- Cover meatball mixture and chill at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop mixture on to parchment lined baking sheets and roll into balls.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and brown the meatballs in batches. Transfer back to parchment lined baking sheets and bake 15-20 minutes. Once done, keep in warm oven (lower the heat) until ready to serve.
- While meatballs are baking, make the cream sauce and the mashed potatoes. Add 2 cups heavy cream to the meatball drippings in the skillet and simmer until reduced by about half. While cream is reducing, follow instructions for cooking the potatoes in step 4. While potatoes are cooking, add soy sauce, salt and pepper and simmer cream sauce until thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Keep warm while finishing potatoes.
- Drain potatoes and return back to the pot. Add a splash or two of heavy cream and a few tablespoons of butter and roughly mash the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve meatballs with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, cucumbers, and a tart jam, such as lingonberry.