Monthly Archives: January 2017

Swedish Meatballs, Delicate and Juicy

This isn’t your grandma’s recipe, but an interesting twist on an old stand-by. My first recollection of Swedish Meatballs came by way of an occasional outing to a family-style smörgåsbord in Michigan when we were kids. Their’s (and most others I’ve tried since then) had more of a sweet note, which as a youngster with a sweet-tooth suited me just fine—certainly not my preference today.

If properly and traditionally prepared, they are considered part of an authentic Swedish meal. But we weren’t going for authentic. The impetus for this recipe came via a house party invite with a request to contribute an hors d’oeuvre. Russ remembered Cook’s Illustrated ran a recent article on holiday appetizers, and he had an “ah-ha” moment when he happened upon their Swedish Meatballs recipe.

Usually when making meatballs, or meatloaf, one is instructed not to over-handle the meat. But in this recipe, along with the ones we recently made for the Italian Wedding Soup, the meats and spices are to be ground vigorously in a stand mixer producing substantial yet delicate meatballs with a sausage-like springiness.


To achieve the right texture, we followed their technique that combines beef, pork, bread, cream—and a surprise ingredient—baking powder, which keeps the meatballs delicate and juicy. Although to make them less sweet, we eliminated the brown sugar from the meatball ingredients altogether, and reduced the amount called for in the sauce. (The following ingredients reflect these changes.)

For the meatball gravy recipe, we emulated their light cream sauce instead of the traditional heavy brown gravy. To get this, you add a bit of cream to the stock to lighten it up and a splash of lemon juice for some bright flavor.

Keep your fingers and palms moist so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands.

Wait until all of your meatballs are formed before starting to cook them.

Keep a bowl of water nearby and dip your fingers after every two or three meatballs to prevent the meat from sticking as you form the balls. Another trick, when ready to start cooking, is to start near the skillet handle, arrange the meatballs in a clockwise spiral to keep track of the order in which they need to be flipped.

A 12-inch slope-sided skillet can be used in place of the sauté pan (use 1 1/2 cups of oil to fry instead of 1 1/4 cups.) The meatballs can be fried and then frozen for up to 2 weeks. To continue with the recipe, thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight and proceed from step 3, using a clean pan. Serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes, boiled red potatoes, or egg noodles, or simply as an hors d’oeuvre like we did.

BTW, “köttbullar” is the Swedish word for meatballs.



  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 large slice high-quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 small onion, grated on large holes of box grater (about ¼ cup)
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and ground black pepper


Instead of buying an entire loaf of gluten-free bread for just one slice (which we wouldn’t use the rest of) we thawed a roll from the freezer and removed the crust. The scraps went to the birdies.

After combining the bread and cream, use a fork to mash it until no large dry bread chunks remain.

An onion is grated on the large holes of a box grater.

In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork (and other meats, if using), onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale.

Add bread mixture with ground meat and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous.

For the Meatballs:

  1. Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary.
  3. Using a fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary.
  4. Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
  5. Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
Arrange meatballs in hot oil in a spiral starting at the handle.
After a few minutes, start turning the meatballs over beginning with the one closest to the handle.
Remove all the meatballs from the pan to a paper towel lined platter.
When the foaming from the butter subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown.
Once the sauce is reduced to about one cup, stir in cream and return to simmer.
Finally, add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through.

For the Sauce:

  1. Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds.
  2. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. (We think it should have been reduced longer to thicken the sauce.) Stir in cream and return to simmer.
  3. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Thanks to IKEA, Swedish meatballs are arguably the most well-known meatballs in the world. Initially they were only enjoyed by upper class Swedes but by the 1850s they were accessible to the middle classes as well. There are endless varieties with numerous sauces from white to dark brown and everything in between. So go ahead and try your (wet) hand at making this recipe!


Goodful For Ya

Feeling a little bloated from a food hangover? Or just want to eat a little healthier in the New Year? I first saw this recipe when my sister Lolly posted the link on Facebook during Winter break. And I thought after all of the heavy, caloric food that’s been offered the past several weeks, this Lemon Chicken and Spaghetti Squash looked like a quick, healthy and delicious alternative. Had to get it on our upcoming meal repertoire ASAP!

Eager to try it, I got around to making it immediately after the holidays ended. In so doing, we incorporated our homemade turkey stock (we were out of homemade chicken stock) in place of commercial chicken stock. My guess is the dish may be too bland if you use packaged broth, but if you do, think about including some other spices and/or herbs of your choice to amp up the flavor.

A few other changes included adding some fresh cremini mushrooms, increasing the cherry tomatoes by about another cup, and decreased the baby spinach—only because our package weighed five ounces, not eight as the ingredients called for. Our two chicken breasts weighed in at 3/4 pound, which was plenty for two, with leftovers.

Cooked as instructed, the roasted squash came out perfectly! What a clever idea to “fork” the squash around the perimeter and then microwave for 5 minutes before you cut it in half. How come I never heard of this technique before?? I’m going to try this next time I roast an acorn squash too because they can be such buggers to try and slice open.

In a straight line around the perimeter, use a fork to make holes.

After microwaving for five minutes, cut the squash in half along the “forked” line.

Scoop out the seeds and fibers and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Spread a little olive oil all over the cut side and season with salt and pepper. Make sure to turn the cut side down before roasting.

In addition, as toppers we sprinkled on some red pepper flakes (shocked, right?) and a tad of shredded parmesan cheese. I’m thinking some rendition of this will become a monthly dinner staple during the cooler months.

NOTE: To make it a vegetarian dish, use vegetable broth and tofu chunks in place of the chicken.



  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 chicken breast, cut into 1-2 in pieces

For the sauce:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (homemade if at all possible)
  • 8 ounces baby spinach

Sear the chicken pieces in hot oil for several minutes.

After the chicken is removed from the skillet, add onions (and mushrooms if using) and sauté for a few minutes.

Broth and lemon juice are added after the tomatoes and garlic and will simmer for 20 minutes.

The chicken is added back after the sauce has reduced down for 20 minutes.

The final step is folding in the baby spinach until it wilts.


  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
  2. With a fork, poke several holes into the spaghetti squash along a straight line from end to end. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut squash in half along the holes. Remove seeds with a spoon. Drizzle squash interior with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place squash cut-side down on baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until soft. Let cool.
  5. While squash is roasting, using a skillet, cook the chicken breast on medium-high heat with a little olive oil for 6-8 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  6. Sauté onion for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes and cook for a couple minutes. Cook until onions are translucent.
  7. Add lemon juice and chicken broth, and cook until the liquid partially reduces, about 20 minutes. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Using a fork, shred the inside of the squash.
  9. Pour sauce over the squash. Serve immediately.

After roasting for 40 minutes, let the squash cool slightly then shred the inside with a fork and add to dinner plates.

Over your shredded squash, ladle the chicken and veggie mixture adding any other toppings last.

Posted on Goodful Facebook page

A Hartman Riff on an Italian Classic

Everyone loves Italian Wedding Soup including us, but when we stumbled upon this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated we were intrigued by the atypical aromatics of anise and fennel as opposed to the standard celery and carrots. And according to the original directions, the broth gets simmered with ground pork and beef for a savory note. Although our grocery store didn’t have ground pork so Russ picked up meatloaf mix which included veal, beef and pork.

Skipping the fuss of a typical brodo doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor. By doctoring commercial chicken broth, you get comparably rich-tasting results in under an hour. HOWEVER, after reading the instructions, we could not fathom the thought of throwing away the meat once the broth was done! Instead we used our own homemade chicken stock which added plenty of flavor on its own, along with some prepackaged beef stock.


For the meatballs, beating the ground meat in a stand mixer distributes fat and moisture evenly so they have a springy bite. Plus, a few umami-packed ­porcini mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce amp up the broth’s meaty flavor. Substituting kale for the usual escarole was a “feel-good-about-yourself” swap—and a tasty one at that.

Without any fresh oregano on hand, we incorporated the dried herb, which had been picked directly from our garden in the fall and dehydrated, so it was “fresh” dried. Since Russ ordered about 30 packages of gluten-free pasta shapes a few months ago through, we have quite a selection and one of them was ditalini!

It’s best to use a rasp-style grater to process the onion and garlic for the meatballs.
Tubettini or orzo can be used in place of the ditalini.
If you don’t eat, beef, veal or pork, make ground chicken or turkey meatballs.



  • onion, chopped
  • fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and chopped
  • garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ¼ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
  • ounces ground pork (we did NOT incorporate meat into our broth)
  • ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
  • bay leaf
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • cups beef broth
  • cups water


  • slice hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • teaspoons finely grated onion
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • ounces ground pork
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • ounces 85 percent lean ground beef (we used a little over a pound of meatloaf mix in place of the beef and pork)
  • teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • cup ditalini pasta
  • ½ pound kale, stemmed and cut into ½-inch pieces (6 cups)


The chopped fennel, onion, dried porcini mushrooms and bay leaf (we did not add meat to this step) are cooked for about 5 minutes.

Kale is sliced down into strips.

After all of the strained liquids are added to the pot and simmered for a half hour, the kale and pasta are added.

  1. Heat onion, fennel, garlic, porcini, pork, beef, (we did not add meat in this step) and bay leaf in Dutch oven over medium-high heat; cook, stirring frequently, until meats are no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add wine and Worcestershire; cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth (homemade if possible), beef broth, and water; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
When forming the meatballs, it’s best if you keep your hands wet, so keep dipping your fingertips into a bowl of water and touch your palms with the wet fingers after every two or three balls.
We made the meatballs earlier in the day and placed them on a wax paper lined baking sheet, covered with saran wrap and refrigerated until ready to use.
Without searing the meatballs beforehand, they are added at the end until heated through.
  1. While broth simmers, combine bread, cream, Parmesan, onion, garlic, and pepper to taste in bowl; using fork, mash mixture to uniform paste.
  2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat pork, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt on high speed until smooth and pale, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
  3. Add bread mixture, beef, and oregano; mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Using moistened hands, form heaping teaspoons of meat mixture into smooth, round meatballs; you should have 30 to 35 meatballs. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  4. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl or container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Wipe out Dutch oven and return broth to pot. (Broth can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Skim off fat before reheating.)
  5. Return broth to simmer over medium-high heat. Add pasta and kale; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add meatballs; return to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through and pasta is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

The soup made for great lunches at work.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Italian Wedding Soup