Saturday, May 25, 2013

Swedish Meatballs with Yogurt Gravy on Pasta and Carrot Ribbon Noodles

To download a copy of the recipe for Swedish Meatballs with Yogurt Gravy, click HERE.

To download a copy of the recipe for Pasta and Carrot Ribbon Noodles, click HERE.

There are many reasons why someone would want to make Swedish Meatballs. They’re easy, yet remarkably versatile, working just as well as an appetizer as they do when served as a main dish. Their signature spice blend takes flavors American cooks usually use only for cookies and shows they work just as well applied to a hearty, savory dinner. Then they’re paired with a creamy gravy instead of a vegetable-based sauce. The main reason to make Swedish Meatballs, though, is the simplest as well as the most important: they taste good.

The most authentic Swedish Meatballs are often served with lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber. While it’s possible to get nearly any ingredient on the Internet with enough advanced planning, I try as much as possible to cook with things that are available easily, locally and on short notice. With that in mind, I chose instead to serve the meatballs over noodles dressed up in one of my favorite ways, mixed with “noodles” made of thin-sliced carrot ribbons, cut to size and steamed to the same texture as the pasta noodles. (Click HERE to read more about that.) It’s a great way to add color, flavor and nutrition to your egg noodles.

Some additional Cook’s Notes before we begin:

  • Although beef and pork combinations are normally used when making Swedish Meatballs, other meat combinations are possible. (Insert your favorite Ikea joke here.) In this recipe I reduced the fat by using a combination of ground turkey and turkey sausage meat. For same reason, I’ve also replaced the traditional heavy cream or sour cream in the gravy with non-fat yogurt.
  • As with any meatball, getting the flavor right is a fairly straight-forward matter; the real challenge is getting the texture right. The ingredients must be there in the proper proportions, of course, but it also requires a light touch. Forget everything you learned packing snowballs; the goal here is delicacy. You can mix the meatball ingredients using either a stand mixer (with the paddle attachment), or by hand; if you use your hands, remember to mix, not squeeze.

This recipe makes 4 – 6 servings.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

*For the meatballs: Turkey bacon: two thick slices, or 3 – 4 thin slices 3 Tbsp butter substitute, divided; 1 medium onion, fine diced; 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks; ¼ cup of skim milk; ¾ lb. ground turkey; ¾ lb. turkey sausage meat (removed from casings); 1 egg substitute egg; 2 tsp kosher salt; ½ tsp black pepper; pinch garlic powder; ½ tsp all-spice; ½ tsp ground nutmeg.

*For the gravy: 3 Tbsp AP flour; 2 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth; ¼ tsp garlic powder; ½ cup fat-free yogurt.

*Other ingredients for serving: 2 Tbsp dried parsley; cooked noodles with carrot ribbon noodles (download separate recipe).

To start the recipe:

Cook the bacon in a skillet until slightly crisp. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

When cool, dice into small pieces.

Next, prepare the meatball mixture:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter substitute in the skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and slightly softened, about 4 minutes, scraping the bacon leftovers from the pan the onions cook. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

While the onions are cooling, combine the bread and milk in a large bowl. Let the bread absorb the milk for several minutes.

Add the bacon, onion, ground turkey, turkey sausage meat, egg, salt, pepper, pinch of garlic powder, allspice, and nutmeg.

Using a light touch, gently mix the ingredients using a stand mixer or by hand for several minutes until a sticky mixture forms. (Remember: mix, don't squeeze!)

To form and cook the meatballs:

Using wet hands to keep the meat mixture from sticking to them, form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls. As you form each meatball, set it aside on a sheet of foil.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, brown the meatballs on all sides, for 8 – 10 minutes. After all of the meatballs have been browned, set them aside till needed. Retain the liquid in the skillet.

To prepare the sauce:

Sprinkle the flour into the liquid in the skillet and whisk constantly, scraping the pan, and cook for about a minute until the floury taste is cooked out.

Slowly whisk in the broth until the mixture is smooth.

Add ¼ tsp garlic powder. Cook until the mixture starts to boil and thicken, about 3 minutes.

Strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the solids.

Return the liquid to the skillet and whisk in the yogurt over low heat. Season to taste.

To finish cooking the meatballs:

Return meatballs to the skillet and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

To serve:

Place some noodles on the plate. Put meatballs on top of the cooked noodles, top with some sauce, and garnish with parsley.

To download a copy of the recipe for Swedish Meatballs with Yogurt Gravy, click HERE.

To download a copy of the recipe for Pasta and Carrot Ribbon Noodles, click HERE.

Hope you enjoy this hearty, delicious – and reduced fat! – meal. And that you’ll visit again next week for another kitchen-tested recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)