The first time I ever showed this recipe for meatballs with Jaloviina sauce to my boyfriend, he was in awe. Jaloviina, or Jallu for short, is a Finnish cut brandy, which is a mixture of brandy and hard grain alcohol. J acknowledges the fact that it’s not actually very good, but it’s a Finnish institution. “It should only be drunk with Pepsi,” he says. Or straight.
But then I found this other fantastic use for Jallu on the Finnish food blog Doughboy– as part of a rich gravy to serve with meatballs and mashed potatoes. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for ages, but wanted to wait for cooler weather to prepare the rich meal. I made a few substitutions. I couldn’t find onion soup mix to use in the meatballs (apparently they have it in Finland and not in Estonia), so I used mushroom soup mix, which I knew would add salt and some good flavor. Sour cream was used in lieu of creme fraiche. Also, I don’t have demi-glace, so I just added some more beef broth to the gravy.
The meal came out beautifully. The meatballs were nice and tender, and baking is such an easy way to prepare them. My mashed potatoes weren’t as good as J’s, but they were OK, and anything would have tasted good with that rich Jallu sauce all over it. I mashed some of our lingonberries with sugar as an accompaniment. And J was definitely pleased– the combination of meatballs and Jallu sauce led him to declare me the “best girlfriend ever.” 😀