Feast 22 – Meat and Potatoes (It’s Grim Up North)

ok, this meal started because i had a hankering… i believe thats the best reason to ever cook something, because you get a notion that hey, i’d really like to eat that. and so, i caught a sudden urge for meatballs. as is my habit during research for these meals, i start free associating with the internet as my friend to determine what thematically would be appropriate. i find the regional cuisine pages on wikipedia to be fascinating reading. just seeing the lists upon lists of traditional dishes from a specific cuisine is like a culinary goldmine. and so, when i think meatballs, i think scandinavian style food. swedish meatballs. or in the case of today, Norwegian meatballs. which, to be honest with you, are identical to my mental image of swedish meatballs but i want to be as accurate in my reporting as possible. as far as an accompaniment i was kinda at a loss. from my western experience, it seemed that there would probably be some egg noodles involved somewhere with some steamed vegetable on the side. but that was just the american experience, i wanted to make this as right as possible. so just what do they eat up there? as it turns out, lots and lots of meat and potatoes… lots of fish. other root vegetables but nary a green leaf in sight as far as i could tell. so, between google, wikipedia and epicurious, i came up with a two dish ensemble to satiate my craving for meatballs.

Norwegian Meatballs with Spiced Cream Sauce

Ingredients
Meatballs

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 slices day-old rye bread, crusts trimmed, torn into pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
2/3 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal

Sauce

2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Ground allspice

Preparation
For meatballs:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Combine bread and stock in large bowl. Mix in onion mixture, egg, allspice and pepper. Add ground beef and veal and blend well. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Shape meat into 1 1/4-inch balls. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and sauté until cooked through and brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter and keep warm. Reserve drippings in skillet.

Meatballs simmering away

Meatballs simmering away

For sauce:
Add flour to drippings in skillet and stir over medium heat until brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock and cream. Simmer until sauce is thick and smooth, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with allspice, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve.

Pan Sauces are not very photogenic

Pan Sauces are not very photogenic

i probably don’t even need to mention this but this is Osan so i was unable to get veal. i had to make due with a full pound of ground beef, 82% lean for the flavor adding value of that tasty fat. anything leaner and i think you really miss out on a lot.

i have to tell you, this is probably the best freaking pan sauce i have ever made. i cheated, in typical 48F fashion, increased the cream to stock ratio by just a bit and kicked in a healthy amount of cayenne. we can’t be traditional all the time. it spiked the sauce to a higher level in my opinion and was extremely tasty. i’d like to just call off the next 26 weeks of meals and make this pan sauce over and over. ok, thats not true, variety is the spice of life but it was a pretty good pan sauce.

For the side dish, i came across this potato dish called Janssons Frestelse, translated as Janssons Temptation. well, if it’s so tasty this guy Jansson can’t resist it, how can i resist making it? it’s a very simple dish, i kinda like it that way. a layered casserole with potatoes, onions and anchovies finished off with cream, butter and breadcrumbs. bake in an 400 degree oven for 45 minutes and serve. quite tasty and well worth the minimal effort it takes to prepare. below is the quoted recipe i found on the net, no real mods to this one, i did mine in three layers with anchovies on the first and second layer but not the top. i used panko breadcrumbs because they are damned tasty and add a nice crisp finish to dishes such as this.

Janssons Frestelse

5-6 medium potatoes
2 large yellow onions
15-20 anchovie fillets
2 T butter
3/4 C heavy cream
bread crumbs
freshly ground black pepper

First Layer of Potato, Onion and Anchovies

First Layer of Potato, Onion and Anchovies

Peel and grate the potatoes. Slice the onions thinly. Grease a casserole, about 9×12 inches. Layer the grated potatoes, onion and anchovies in the dish, starting with potatoes. Pour the cream, then sliced butter, bread crumbs and pepper evenly over the mix. Bake in a 400° oven for 40-50 minutes.

Finished Casserole

Finished Casserole

Well, one point of light in this bleak world… by some apparent shipping accident or bizarre mistake, the store here got a shipment of Kostriker Schwarzbier which is pretty damned tasty. it was just the thing for this meal and oddly enough, a few of them was enough to convince me to go shoot some pool afterward.

i can’t say enough about the meatballs and the sauce, the meatballs were moist and tender, the sauce zesty with just the right amount of creamy kick. This is one of my favorite dishes in quite some time.

plated and ready to eat

plated and ready to eat

oh, i also threw down the gauntlet for Eddie, i challenged him to come up with a theme for a feast, either a world cuisine, a key ingredient or a vaguely recollected dish that he might want to try. i like the thought of audience participation, who knows where it might lead?

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4 Responses to Feast 22 – Meat and Potatoes (It’s Grim Up North)

  1. xtna says:

    Can’t say i am thrilled with a cuisine that doesn’t have any green to it, but if you’re happy then I am happy. This meal may be one of those where I indulge in a little breakfast for dinner type thing.

  2. Greg Senior says:

    Dude, looked really good, to be honest it looks much better than Scandinavian food really is, I found most of it to be fairly bland and mediocre, tastiest dish i found was boiled potatoes and herring in a pickle cream sauce. Most of the good food, in Scandinavia, had Southern influences mainly French and German. Guess when you live in a cold climate with a short growing season, you really don’t have a lot of options.

  3. 48feasts says:

    yeah, that was my conclusion… mostly fish and root vegetables because that’s what’s locally available.

    if only they were lucky enough to have cayenne pepper, think of how much better their lives would have been. (speaking pre-modern era of course, i’m sure the people of scandinavia have ready access to spices in todays modern world)

  4. Greg Senior says:

    Would make a good what if story, if the Vikings had had a wider range of spices maybe they wouldn’t have felt the urge to plunder and pillage Europe, different world

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