The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Swedish-style Meatballs

One of the main reasons why I cook a lot at home - other than the fact that I love cooking - is because of my son's food allergies. It is not a simple matter of giving him food from restaurants, shops and supermarkets, especially in Asia where soy is used very extensively and staff don't understand what or why I'm asking about ingredients in the food. His allergies also mean that I can't take shortcuts and use frozen or processed food because most of the packaged food (including cereals, biscuits and even baby/toddler food) contain at least traces of soy, nuts and sesame. It's not easy dealing with food allergies, but it's a good thing that I enjoy cooking because I have to cook a lot. My cooking philosophy has always been pretty simple: cook from scratch using minimally processed ingredients, and serve food that I myself would eat. That means I generally avoid using minced meat because I want to cook meat and not fat and gristly bits that usually gets minced together with the meat. I am trying to incorporate more red meat in Zak's diet, but the relative toughness of red meat means that I have to use minced red meat a lot, so I buy the more expensive packs of minced meat that are better quality than the cheaper ones. I seriously need to expand my minced meat repertoire beyond spaghetti and lasagne because I get pretty bored cooking the same dishes, even if it is repeated only once or twice a month (there's cannelloni and dumplings, but they are time and labour intensive, not so great for mid-week meals).

Zak's dinner plate with the meatballs - he prefers the meat and sauce separate from the carb:

This is my first meatball recipe, loosely adapted from this recipe on I was happy to find that cranberries make a good substitute for lingonberries because I still had some whole cranberry sauce leftover from Christmas. I wanted a tender and soft-textured meatball, so I added a little bit of vinegar and cornstarch to the meatball and allowed it to marinate for a short while (~20 minutes). I also had some cream of chicken leftover from a previous meal, so I used that instead of chicken stock and sour cream. I intended to add dried parsley to the meatball mixture, but totally forgot (that's the trouble with not writing down the recipe for reference). The meatballs turned out quite well, and the boys loved it! I made double portions to make an easy dinner for another night, and I found that the meatballs were a little sweeter, possibly from absorbing the gravy they were sitting in for two nights in the refrigerator.

Swedish-style Meatballs


450g minced pork
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons whole cranberry sauce (substitute for lingonberry sauce)
1 tablespoon tomato sauce/ketchup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup cream of chicken (I used Pacific Natural Foods Organic Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup which requires dilution with equal parts water)
2/3 cup water

1. Combine the minced pork, vinegar, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl and allow to marinate for about 20 minutes.
2. In the meantime, saute the onion and garlic on medium heat until cooked (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Combine the cooled onion mixture, minced pork mixture, 2 tablespoons of the whole cranberry sauce and tomato sauce/ketchup in a large bowl and mix well. Form tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls.
4. Heat oil in a large fry pan on medium-high heat and cook the meatballs for a few minutes, turning occasionally until well-browned and almost cooked through. If necessary, cook in two batches to avoid over-crowding. Remove meatballs and set aside.
5. Combine the cream of chicken and water, and add to the pan. Gently heat over medium heat while stirring, then add the remaining berry sauce and combine well. Return meatballs to the pan, and simmer for a few minutes.
6. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables for a complete meal.

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