Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream and Dill Sauce -- Elegance from Ground Meat!

Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream and Dill Sauce -- Elegance from Ground Meat!

Although based on ground meat, this dish is considered elegant in Sweden and elsewhere in Scandinavia. Called Köttbullar (pronounced SHAWT-bool-ar), Swedish meatballs can even serve as a wedding dish or on the Christmas smorgasbord.

Ground turkey, surprisingly, works well for making this treat, though veal, pork and beef, or a combination are traditional. (IKEA, which sells tons of frozen Swedish meatballs, makes theirs with pork plus beef.)

The recipe serves six as a main course, with boiled or steamed potatoes, noodles, or lightly salted rice. Peas are an attractive side dish. The classical condiment is Lingonberry sauce (sold at IKEA).

1/4 cup quick or old fashioned oatmeal (not traditional, but works well)
1/2 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs (or 3/4 cup freshly made crumbs, packed)
1 small-medium onion
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract)
2 pounds ground turkey (the original is veal, pork, beef, or a mixture)*
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dry dill weed) plus dill sprigs for garnish

In food processor, pulverize oatmeal (or chop it on cutting board with chef’s knife). Place it in a mixing bowl. Measure crumbs and add to oatmeal. Cut onion into pieces and place in the food processor along with the garlic. Pulse and scrape down to mince finely. (Alternatively, mince onion and garlic finely with a chef’s knife on a cutting board.)  Fry onion-garlic mixture in oil or butter, stirring frequently, until limp but not browned. Add this mixture to the bowl. Add the eggs and lightly beat them with a fork. Add salt and spices and mix everything well. Add meat and combine thoroughly, kneading it with your hands. If desired, chill the mixture for easier shaping.

Roll into 1 to 1-1/2-inch meatballs, depending on preference. (A small ice cream scoop helps make same-sized meatballs.) Wet hands occasionally so meat sticks less to them. Set meatballs on an oiled tray until needed. Heat a pot with water 2-1/2 inches deep. Add 1 teaspoon salt. When boiling, add meatballs (half at a time, if necessary, so as not to crowd them). Simmer 12 minutes, gently stirring from time to time, after the meatballs float. With slotted spoon, remove meatballs to a bowl to cool, covering top loosely with waxed paper. Boil the poaching water down, uncovered, to reduce to about 3 cups of broth. Meatballs and broth can be refrigerated (separately) or even frozen at this point.

To finish the creamed meatballs, skim any hardened fat off broth. Heat together the meatballs and enough broth to come near the top of the meatballs, carefully stirring from time to time until gently boiling. Gently stir in sour cream. Heat just until simmering. Taste sauce and add salt if desired. Add a little black pepper. Remove from heat and stir in minced dill.

Serve in casserole or chafing dish. A few sprigs of dill can be used to garnish, if desired.

*note:  If using ground veal, pork, and/or beef, add 2 tablespoons milk or water to meatball mixture at the same time as the eggs.

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