The Autumn Meatball Revolution begins

The Summer of Swedish Food is sadly behind us. While I hope the Scandinavian celebration continues through the end of the year and well into the next, I am happy to welcome what appears to be Autumn Meatball Revolution.

Last Monday our office staff roadtripped together to finally indulge in Saucy Burts tasty meatball sandwiches. I'd been reading about Saucy Burt's all summer and was excited to partake during the cart's final week of the season. Meatballs as big as my head lined a chewy bun, all topped with delicious garlicky fresh tomato sauce. I've always demanded a generous bit of cheese on my meatball subs, but Saucy Burt's balls and sauce are so flavorful I didn't miss the melted goo of mozzarella or provolone.

Meatball madness continued with a midweek open house welcoming colleagues to our new office space. Along with the usual catered-in suspects, K brought in meatballs from her husband's deli. (Anyone who has spent time in Northeast Minneapolis knows about the Marino's legacy. Marino's Deli on Johnson Street NE serves great Italian sandwiches and pastas.) We gorged ourselves on balls in red gravy. The day after our event there were some ugly lunchroom brawls as we fought over the leftovers.

But three days of meatballs and garlic breath weren't enough for me. Enter the lingonberry.

It was the pre-Internet era when I made my first trek to Door County. I'd heard rumbles about the iconic Al Johnson's with their grass roof and grazing goats. (My grandpa's name was Al Johnson, but he didn't own any goats.) I also read reviews of their breakfast. Swedish pancakes served with meatballs and lingonberries seemed ridiculously wonderful enough to share space on a platter.

Those pancakes and balls were a culinary revelation. I've not thought about food in the same way since. Why don't I make breakfast balls more often? I repurposed one of my Swedish meatball recipes, adding fennel root and a glaze of orange juice and lingonberry. And though T prefers fluffy pancakes as wide as his plate, I love the simple crepe-like curve of my Swedish version. A new brunch star is born.

Lingonberry Glazed Swedish Meatballs
Makes approximately 34 balls

1 red onion, grated
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh dense bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 orange

Combine bread, buttermilk, eggs, mustard, and spices in large mixing bowl; set aside for 10 minutes. Use hands to mix in onion and meats. Roll balls sized 2 tablespoons each; occasionally wet hands to make rolling easier.

Rub bottom of large roasting pan with several tablespoons butter. Place balls in pan. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

In small mixing bowl whisk together juice of 2 orange (about 1/2 cup), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon prepared mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Use spatula to gently roll balls for uniform shape then pour glaze over balls and return to oven for additional 20 minutes.

Check temperature of balls. Thermometer should read 165 degrees. Add 1/2 cup lingonberry preserves to roasting pan glaze and roll balls in glaze. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Serve with pan glaze and Swedish Pancakes, lingonberry preserves, and maple syrup.

5th and Nicollet
Minneapolis, MN

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Patrice's picture
Patrice Johnson