As documented in Christmas posts (here, here 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!
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.