I am a huge Seinfeld fan. I have seen every episode many times and I own every season on DVD. Because of this, I celebrate Festivus every year, which is on December 23rd. For those of you that don’t know what Festivus is, it is a holiday that Frank Costanza made up because he was fed up with the consumerism of Christmas. Instead of a tree, there is a aluminum pole because Frank finds tinsel distracting. During Festivus dinner, you tell everyone how much they’ve disappointed you over the past year in addition to wrestling the head of the household during the Feats of Strength. It’s one of my favorite episodes. I like to celebrate by making a nice dinner and watching the episode on Festivus.
In the episode featuring Festivus, it appears that some sort of meatloaf is being served. On Festivus, I wasn’t really in the mood for meatloaf, so I made another dish with ground meats – Swedish Meatballs. Pat LOVES Swedish meatballs, or any kind of meat smothered in gravy on top of creamy mashed potatoes.
I found this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats and it is incredibly tasty. I only changed a few things – I bought a bigger onion than she recommends and I grate half like she says to do but then I finely dice the other half for the sauce. For me, a gravy needs onions in it. For serving, I like to have a big scoop of jellied cranberry sauce. The tangy cranberry pairs really well with the all-spiced meatballs. I also think the sauce needs a little lemon. Anytime you have a heavy gravy with cream, it needs a little brightness or else it gets to monotone in flavor.
One thing to watch out for while making this is salt. I put salt in the meatballs, but that’s it. For the beef stock, I use Better than Bouillon and it can be incredibly salty. So I recommend waiting until the end to taste and add salt or else you may ruin it.
For the mashed potatoes, you just have to put all the butter, sour cream and milk/cream into these that you need for them to be good. There is not such thing as a “healthy mashed potato” so don’t even try! You are about to eat meat smothered in cream filled gravy, so commit to a creamy mashed potato. I don’t measure anything for my potatoes. I just add stuff and taste as I go along until it is to my liking.
Swedish meatballs with creamy garlic mashed potatoes
Preptime: 15 minutes
Cooktime: 40 minutes
For the meatballs:
2 slices white bread, crust cut off and crumbled finely
1 medium onion, cut in half, one half finely grated, one half finely diced
10 oz ground beef
10 oz ground pork
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
For the gravy:
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to season
For the creamy garlic mashed potatoes:
Yukon gold potatoes, about 7
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
~3/4 stick Butter
Left over cream from the meatballs
Milk if needed
A squeeze of lemon
Parsley, finely minced
Add the crumbled white bread to a large bowl and grate in half the onion. Mix with the bread until the bread is soaked in onion juice. Add the ingredients from beef down to salt and mix well. Hands work for best this. Using a small cookie scoop or a kitchen spoon, make evenly sized balls a little smaller than ping pong balls.
Heat some olive oil in a large Dutch oven. When the oil is hot, add in the meatballs, about 6 or so at a time without over crowding the pot. Cook for about a minute or until it has browned. Roll it over and brown the other side. At this stage, you are not trying to fully cook the meatball but just get it browned and holding together. Remove from the pot and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all of the meatballs are browned.
When all the meatballs are done, you can remove some of the fat from the pot if you’d like. Cook the other half of the onion for about 5 minutes. Melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for about 1 or 2 minutes. Stir in the beef broth and whisk until it starts to thicken. Add in the cream and then add back in the meatballs. Bring up to a light boil and then cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are fully cooked through.
Slice the potatoes in small pieces, add to a pot and cover with cold water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Boil until fork tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside. Heat some butter in the same pot and add the garlic, cooking for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add back in the potatoes and the rest of the butter. Start smashing and add in everything else. Keep mixing, tasting and adjusting until they are smooth and creamy.
Serve on top of some creamy mashed potatoes, making sure you put a lot of gravy. Top with cranberry sauce, a squeeze of lemon and some parsley.