This is the first post from my new guest blogger, J:
Oh, Sweden… the land of happiness and tall, blonde women. In any part of their country, you encounter smiley faces and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The nation that puts the individual before the system, gives men the right to paternity leave, where you don’t have to spend your teenage years in the army – how could you not like them? Sweden… probably even the grass is greener there.
There’s also an idiom, “The Swedish do it better.” Personally, as a born Finn, I doubt that. They just have this magical ability to get the credit for everything, even the stuff they have nothing to do with. They even had the guts to declare good ol’ Father Christmas as their own, bastards… As far as I know, the old man still has the Finnish nationality on his papers – keep it going, pops! You Swedes can keep ABBA, Eriksson and those damn rotten herrings you like so much (!!!), but don’t come across the border claiming something that is “legally” ours to be yours. Swedes… who likes them anyways!*
Nevertheless, it’s time to get down to business, and this time I thought to make some so-called Swedish meatballs. It has been many, many years since I last had some, so why not, I was hungry anyways. A quick glance in the fridge revealed some ground meat and cream, so I went to the shop on the corner and got some onions and tomato purée plus potatoes, carrots and beer to go with the balls. I didn’t have any breadcrumbs, but I thought to try to make them without that stuff this time. I used a tiny amount of flour though, but just to maintain the overall manageability of the meat-dough.
I mixed all the ingredients and spices (at that point only salt, black pepper and paprika) and let the ugly mass cool down a bit. While waiting, I refreshed myself with some beer – I especially liked that part of the process. Before I actually started to cook the balls I fried a tiny piece of the reddish bulk on the pan, just to ensure the taste. It was perfect. For a fraction of a second I traveled ~20 years back in time, all the way to my grandmother’s and the table served… a plateful of brown and greasy meatballs, peeking out from a steamy pile of mashed potatoes, grandmother’s familiar voice, persistently but lovingly telling me to take more, more, more… A sip of beer and the nostalgic moment was gone. Oh, the golden memories.
I made a panful of traditional meatballs without adding any other spices. The texture, even without the breadcrumbs, was all good and the taste was just what it should be. Then I thought to be a little more adventurous and separated a hunk of the meat-mass and added some extra-hot chili and Tabasco to it. Fried them up, and goddamn they were good! I fell in love with that stuff, I even wrote down the exact amount of the ingredients and spices I used for next time. With all due love and respect, Grandma (rest in peace), why didn’t you ever try that?!
As soon as I got the first batch of balls done and their remains were stuck to the pan, I started making the sauce. I used beef stock and flour mixed together with the leavings; the result was good but slightly lumpy. But hey, I’m no pro – taste is all that matters. As a final product, the meatballs were served with boiled potatoes and carrots and some delicious sauce splashed all over them. Oh, and I found some cucumber and tomatoes from the depths of my fridge, so I just cut those up to give the meal some healthiness and color. More beer was also involved while killing the dish. All in all, a nice’n easy improvisational meal. I guess I could call it Estonian meatballs. 🙂
P.S. Marika made some yummy cranberry jam, seen on the plate… mmm…
-J, The Cooking Poro
*All the Swedish readers, please don’t take it too seriously. The actual author of this blog has nothing to do with my individual opinions or criticism concerning the Swedes. You know how it goes… J