from one generation to the next
When my daughters were very young we began an annual celebration with friends, a traditional Swedish ritual, Santa Lucia. It helped our friends keep a connection with the traditions of their heritage. We had five blond daughters between us, and they adored dressing in long white gowns and wearing tinsel in their hair. Each year the competition was fierce for the honour of who would wear the crown of (battery operated) candles. The kids would solemnly parade to a traditional Swedish folk song, they’d sing some traditional Christmas carols and then we would feast on saffron buns, gingerbread and mulled wine.
This was the beginning of a fascination for Leah of all things Swedish, eventually leading her there in the early nineties on a 12 month long student exchange. In 2001, Leah’s Swedish “family” came to Australia for a visit over the Christmas period. We celebrated in the Swedish style on Christmas Eve, gravlax, Jansson’s temptation and Swedish meatballs, washed down with many vodka charged drinking songs. It was great fun.
Ros-Britt supervised the meatball making that day and I learnt a thing or two. To make succulent meatballs you need some fat in the mixture. The Swedish secret is fresh breadcrumbs reduced to a slurry with cream which binds the meat so the meatballs never crumble and never dry out.
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/2 cup cream
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
500g pork & veal mince
butter and oil for browning
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Mix together the breadcrumbs and cream and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Using a fork reduce the breadcrumb mix to a slurry. Add the garlic and allspice and season generously with salt and pepper. Using clean hands, massage the meat and breadcrumb mix together until smooth. Make one tiny patty and cook it so that you can taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Roll dessert spoons full of meat into balls. Heat a large frypan, add 1 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, as it starts to sizzle brown the meat balls in batches. Transfer the meatballs to an oven tray and finish cooking the in the oven for about 10 minutes or when the meatballs are firm to the touch.
Makes about 30