Norwegian Meatballs

Norwegian Meatballs

As documented in Christmas posts (herehere and here) from previous years, most of our family’s Christmas celebrating occurs on Christmas Eve. Dinner is always Norwegian meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans, cucumber salad and lefse. This is followed by opening of presents and the eating of cookies. While traditionally, the great Norwegian-American Christmas Eve dinner features lutefisk, my in-laws have abandoned this as no one in the family actually likes eating dried aged codfish treated with lye and soaked in water until it is a gelatinous fishy blob. I’ve heard rumors that actual Norwegians in Norway have stopped eating the stuff but the proud Norwegian-Americans have stuck to their immigrant traditions and are now the main consumers of lutefisk during the holidays. While I’ve never had lutefisk, having a love of all things meatball, I’ve grown very fond of this Christmas meatball dinner tradition.

This year, I got an email from Chinese Santa, aka Yuan, wishing me a Merry Christmas and missing our Christmas Eve meatball dinners. So Yuan, Merry Christmas and here’s the meatball recipe so you can make it in Shanghai!

Norwegian Meatballs
From the kitchen of Grandma Lorraine with notes from Grandma Dorothy

  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup water

Make fresh bread crumbs by putting a few slices of white bread in the food processor and remove bread crumbs. Then, chop the onion in the food processor. Using your hands, mix together ground beef, onion, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Add milk gradually – you may not need the whole cup, the meat mixture should be soft and easily molded into small balls. Roll meat mixture into balls and drop into hot oil. Pan can be very crowded. Fry on each side until VERY brown, almost burned is okay and will make for a richer gravy.

When meatballs are sufficiently brown, take off heat and remove extra oil/fat from the pan. Pour a small amount of water and simmer meatballs for about 30 min. You may need to add a little more water as you go along. When meatballs are done, remove them from pan and add potato water to the pan (because of course you will be preparing mashed potatoes to go with the meatballs!) to ‘deglaze’ (I doubt any Norwegian woman ever used that term). Mix flour with water to make a slurry and add it to the gravy. Bring gravy to a boil to thicken. Put meatballs back into the gravy to keep warm until ready to serve.

Jamaican Meat Pies

Oh how I love a good meat pie. Chewy, flaky pastry, rich savory gravy, meat and veg to give you the excuse to eat all the pastry and gravy . . . Besides, it seems as though everything I’m doing these days is some sort of folded pastry situation, so eventually you knew it’d come to this.

If you’ve never had a Jamaican meat pie (aka meat patty or beef patty), it’s a chewy flaky pastry, often seasoned with curry and other spices, wrapped around a hefty spoonful of ground beef and onions, heavily spiced with curry and chiles and magic. Ooooh giggity.scrumptious meat pie

So this original recipe, at Serious Eats, said it made 6 pies. I doubled both parts but ended up with enough filling for 7 extra pies (some of which were stuffed to the brim) and still had more left over. So here, I doubled the dough recipe but left the filling as it was.

Jamaican Meat Pies
adapted from Serious Eats

Dough

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup curry powder, preferably Jamaican
  • 1 lb unsalted butter (yes, that’s right)
  • 1 ½ cups cold water
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked

Filling

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced (I used random yard chiles)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups beef or chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tbsp Pickapeppa sauce or steak sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry, preferably Jamaican
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or a couple of pinches of dried, if you don’t have)
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Egg wash made from 1 large egg mixed with ¼ cup water

Make your dough

(You may want to do this in two batches so as not to explode your food processor.)  Add flour, salt, and curry powder to the food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse to mix.  Cut your butter into little pieces and scatter over dry ingredients.  Like you would for a pie crust, pulse until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal and the biggest butter pieces are the size of peas.

Whisk the eggs lightly in a small bowl, then add water and vinegar.  Stir to combine, then add it to the food processor and pulse until the dough forms a rough ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic and fridge for at least an hour.

Make your house smell amazing

Brown the ground beef in the olive oil, in a large sauté pan (has to be big enough for all your saucy liquids).  When the beef is nearly done, nudge it to the side and add the onions, garlic, and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until onions are soft, 4-5 minutes.aromatics for meat pies

Add broth, Pickapeppa or steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, cayenne, curry, allspice, salt, bay leaves, and thyme.  Stir to combine, turn down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and pick out the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Add breadcrumbs and stir thoroughly.

Put your oven rack on the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375.  Flour your work surface and rolling pin (and dump a little pile on the side at the ready, you’ll need it).  Roll out half of the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut out 6” circles – you should be able to get 6 or 7 circles.  Line a sheet pan with parchment and set it next to your dough.

Free one of your little circles and brush the edges with the egg wash.  Put a generous couple of tablespoons of filling onto one half of your circle, leaving room around the edge.  (You’ll want to get 12-14 pies out of your filling – plan accordingly.)  Fold the other half of the circle over and press around the edges to seal.  Press the edges with the tines of a fork and set your little friend on the sheet pan.  Repeat.meat pie assembly

Brush your pies with egg wash and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and amazing.  Let these sunny little beauties rest for 5 minutes before scarfing them down and burning your tongue.jamaican meat pies

Duck, Duck, Not Goose…

Alas, the holidays are over and our food binge has at least slowed down. I spent Christmas with Princess (girls, do I really have to call you by these names?) and I guess that would make him Prince. All we did was eat, drink, cook, read food porn and watched a whole lot of TV.

So we decided to do a two meat Christmas dinner with duck and Princess’ specialty, tenderloin. I found a lovely duck with clementine recipe which promised crispy skin and not a lot of fat. The trick is to braise the duck first to render out the fat and then dry the duck in the fridge for a while, much like how my peeps make Peking duck.

The only duck I could find the day before Christmas was at the local Chinese market which was really the WHOLE duck, head and all. No big deal but turn your head away if you are squeamish.

 

For those of you interested in making the duck, do read the comments in the recipe on Epicurious and start checking the duck after the first hour during the braising process. I braised it for 2 hours and it was definitely too much, the skin had a few holes and the wings were falling apart. The legs were also spread at an rather obscene angle.

The duck went into the fridge to dry out after the braise and we proceeded onto the rest of our meal.

Tenderloin before and after

We also made a shaved fennel and citrus salad

Potato Dauphinoise

Meanwhile we also made a stock with the leftover duck part (ahem, head and feet) and made the clementine glaze for it. I brushed on a little of the glaze right before roast the duck to give it a slightly deeper color and voila! The duck ended up tasting amazing, not much fat and crispy skinned. Although next time I think can streamline the process a lot.

We also made some sauteed broccolini done my usual way (another post). Now that was a Christmas dinner!

And let’s not forget, the eggnog tart and home made cranberry ice cream.

Man, I think I’m hungry again…