Happy New Year to you all, I hope you had a delicious holiday season full of family and fun!
This is an awesome recipe that I'd hoped to share before the holidays just in case some of you wanted to serve these meatballs up as hors d'oeuvres at a holiday cocktail party but as is often the case, especially around the holidays, time slipped away and I never got it posted in time.
No worries. This dish, which is a stalwart of cocktail buffets the world over, is also delicious served up as a main course over rice or egg noodles so all is not lost. If you are one of the increasing number of people that host a cocktail party after the first of the year so that yours doesn't get lost in the shuffle of the holiday rush, then make the recipe as written. Serve the balls coated in sauce in a chafing dish, each topped with just a dollop of the cranberry sauce and with some toothpicks alongside to skewer the little gems. If on the other hand you'll be serving these over rice or pasta, I recommend making 1 1/2 to 2 times the gravy recipe in order that you have enough to fully dress whatever you're serving with the meatballs.
This dish is traditionally served with Lingonberry jam, but as its a bit tricky to find here in the States, we use a cranberry sauce instead. To make the dish a little quicker to prepare, feel free to use your favorite homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce that you have laying about, or even some from a can. No jellied cranberry sauce, please, it will make me sad.
Wishing you all the very best in 2013! – Steve
for the cranberry sauce:
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
for the meatballs:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small yellow onion, finely minced
- 2/3 pound ground chuck
- 2/3 pound ground pork
- 2/3 pound ground veal
- 1 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- handful of fresh dill
for the gravy: (remember make 1 1/2 to 2 times this recipe if serving over rice or pasta)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
to make the cranberry sauce:
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, until all the berries have burst and the mix has reduced to a sauce consistency. Cover and keep warm.
to make the meatballs:
- In a small skillet, heat the butter and add the minced onion, cook over medium heat until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and let cool. Keep the skillet handy.
- As the onions are cooling gather the rest of your ingredients for the meatballs. Add the meats, salt, pepper and spices, breadcrumbs, milk, and beaten egg to the bowl with the cooled onion. Mix together gently with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Take a pinch of the meat mix and toss it into the little skillet you've reserved and cook it so that you can taste for seasoning. If the mix tastes good as-is you can proceed to forming the meatballs, if not, adjust your seasoning and try again until the flavor is to your liking.
- Heat the oven to 425 and brush 2 non-stick cookie sheets with canola oil.
- Form the meat mix into 2 inch diameter meatballs, rolling them lightly between your palms to form them, then place them about an inch apart on the cookie sheets.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the outside of each ball is a nice light brown, but the center is still a rosy pink.
to make the gravy:
- While the meatballs are baking, make your gravy by melting the butter over medium heat, add the flour and stir constantly until the color of a light caramel. Add the stock while whisking constantly, bring to a boil and cook until any lumps have been whisked out of the mix. Add the cream and cook at a very light boil for 10-15 minutes, until the gravy has a nice, thick consistency. Remove from the heat, toss in the chopped dill and keep warm.
- To serve, toss the meatballs with the gravy, garnish with additional freshly chopped dill and serve in a chafing dish with a dollop of cranberry sauce atop each ball as an hors d'oeuvres, or over rice or pasta as an entree. If serving as an entree, pass a bowl of the cranberry sauce at the table for folks to help themselves.