Monday, June 24, 2013

How to: make enough Swedish meatballs for 40 people

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After four years of making too many meatballs to count, with frequent requests of "How do you actually do all of this?" ---I thought I'd share my meatball-making secrets!

1.  The first step in making an obscene amount of anything is figuring out what you need and how many recipes will satisfy a particular crowd.  Alton Brown's swedish meatball recipe, the one I've adapted, estimates 30 meatballs per recipe.  If I have 45 people coming to a party, I'd like each of them to get about 8 large meatballs, meaning I want to make about 360 meatballs.  This means making 12 batches.  Which sounds like a lot, and let's not joke around here, it is a lot.  The good thing is his recipe scales pretty easily up to a quadruple batch, and while you can't actually blend all of that meat at once, you can do it in batches and mix in a stockpot.  If I had one of the giant low and wide 5 gallon stainless bowls, I would use that, but I don't.  Once you know how many batches you're making, you can go ahead and figure out what you need.  8 yolks per quadruple batch, yikes, that's a lot of yolks.  Good thing egg whites freeze well, I see many summer pavlovas in my future!  To make this many meatballs, you also need 9 pounds each of ground pork and ground beef.  Also, word to the wise, Trader Joe's apparently doesn't sell ground pork.  Ridiculous. 

2.  Separate the mixing and the making.  I mise-en-placed all of the ingredients and then individually mixed three quadruple batches separately.  The whole procedure took about four hours (this includes doing all of the dishes). 

3.  Bake meatballs in mini-muffin tins.  Yes, they will be slightly muffin shaped, but if you've ever had to pan-fry meatballs, not even 400 of them, you know that it is a greasy, thankless, hot, and awful task.  Just say no.  Use a cookie scoop to dispense meat material directly into the wells of the mini-muffin tin, place tins on top of a cookie sheet, and bake (mini muffin tins don't sit well on the grating of oven racks, and this also prevents against the rare spillage event).  Store directly in 9x13 oven-safe pans so they can go directly in the oven the day of the party to gently reheat. 

4.  Gravy is a must.  After every batch, empty the meatball liquid/grease directly into a stockpot, and then after you're finished, slowly (SLOWLY) whisk in flour to make a roux, and then add beef stock and cream or milk to make it fabulous. 

4.  Do not bake them the day of the event.  The nice thing about meatballs is that they keep well.  Make them the day before, and then the day of, put them in the oven on the lowest temperature about two hours before eating, stir them every so often, and you're set. 

Without further ado, the recipe!

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients (makes approximately 120 small meatballs)
8 egg yolks
240 grams whole milk (1 cup)
600 grams onion, pureed in a food processor (about four medium onions)
5 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper (about 80 grinds on a standard pepper grinder)
2f teaspoons freshly ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
240 grams breadcrumbs
3 pounds ground beef
3 pounds ground pork

----Gravy
125 grams all purpose flour (1/2 cup)
6 cups beef broth
113 grams heavy cream (1/2 cup)

Instructions
1. Whisk eggs in a large stock pot.  Add milk and mix thoroughly.
2.  Add onion and spices; mix thoroughly.
3.  Add breadcrumbs and allow to sit for at least five minutes.
4.  Beat meat in four separate batches in a mixer with the paddle attachment, for about 2 minutes each time.  After each is done, incorporate into egg/onion/breadcrumb/milk mixture.
5. Allow to rest overnight in a covered container.
6.  Preheat oven to 375ºF.
7.  Use a cookie scoop to scoop meatball mixture into wells of mini muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until done and there's a bit of color.
(3 tins make 36 meatballs, if you have 6 tins total, it will take you approximately two hours to make all the meatballs)
8.  When you remove meatballs from mini muffin tins, pour grease/meatball liquid into a stockpot for the gravy.
9.  When you're finished making meatballs, heat meatball liquid/grease in stockpot to medium.
10.  Add flour and whisk until combined and lightly browned.
11.  Gradually add stock and cream and cook until gravy reaches desired consistency.

10 comments:

TomW said...

Hi Bridget,

I have enjoyed reading your blog for a while now.

I have been looking for a Swedish Meatball recipe which included allspice for some time now. A lady I formerly dated used to make a hand-me-down recipe which included allspice of this dish that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Plans are to try the recipe you posted.

Do you have any small-scale family recipes for Swedish Meatballs which include allspice that you would not mind sharing?

Thanks,
Tom

Bridget said...

Hi Tom!

Allspice is really the secret weapon of swedish meatballs---well, that and the fact that you put it in a stand mixer! Keep in mind, you can try the first batch in the oven for seasoning and then add more allspice or seasoning if you'd like (it's definitely a spice that some people love and others don't).

The just-for-a-family size:

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients (makes approximately 30 small meatballs)
2 egg yolks
60 grams whole milk (1/4 cup)
150 grams onion, pureed in a food processor (about one medium onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (about 20 grinds on a standard pepper grinder)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
60 grams breadcrumbs
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork

----Gravy
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
56 grams heavy cream (1/4 cup)

Instructions
1. Whisk eggs in a large stock pot. Add milk and mix thoroughly.
2. Add onion and spices; mix thoroughly.
3. Add breadcrumbs and allow to sit for at least five minutes.
4. Beat meat in a mixer with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes. Add egg/onion/breadcrumb/milk mixture and beat for an additional minute.
5. Allow to rest overnight in a covered container.
6. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
7. Use a cookie scoop to scoop meatball mixture into wells of mini muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until done and there's a bit of color.
8. When you remove meatballs from mini muffin tins, pour grease/meatball liquid into a saucepan for the gravy.
9. When you're finished making meatballs, heat meatball liquid/grease in stockpot to medium.
10. Add flour and whisk until combined and lightly browned.
11. Gradually add stock and cream and cook until gravy reaches desired consistency.

TomW said...

Bridget,

I made your recipe tonight with a plan of scooping the meatballs with a Pampered Chef scoop I thought Kim still had, and baking them in a a tin like you outlined. Neither could be found.

So I cooked them in an antique, electric skillet:

http://i796.photobucket.com/albums/yy250/tcwkcw/Cooking/SwedishMeatballs.jpg

The crowd went wild.

Thanks for Sharing!

Tom

Bridget said...

I'm glad it worked out so well!

phototeach said...

Have I found you? Are you the person that loves "Granny Glittens and Her Amazing Mittens" as much as do? I will gladly send you a print copy if you can tell me how to get it to you. My scanner is not working! The book is sometimes available on Amazon, though pricey it is worth every penny!

Bridget said...

You have found me! :)

I do have a copy at home, in the Tall Book of Christmas, the really skinny book, but I was mostly frustrated that I couldn't find a copy to share with everyone in the comments, since it's such a lovely story. Thanks for thinking of me, though!

TomW said...

Your recipe has endured!

My wife asked that I repeat it this weekend (when I usually do long-lead items).

Thanks again for the recipe.

Tom

Bridget said...

I'm glad you enjoy it! I still have one batch left over from the summer, frozen in the freezer! You can bet I'm looking forward to that week of lunches. :)

John Farrell said...

I was making some SMB for a small crowd, 30, when I found on Sunday afternoon, 14 miles from the nearest grocery store, there wasn't a smidgen of Allspice in the place. So I substituted 50% of the recipe call for Allspice with ground cloves. It came up pretty close to what I expected.

I agree with your "ugh" that Trader Joe's doesn't stock ground pork. I added some ground up sweet Italian sausages and had a continental type Swedish Meat Balls.

John F.

Bridget said...

John - glad to hear that cloves worked, as did sweet Italian sausage. Necessity and the anticipation of delicious meatballs is the mother of invention. (thought...my Trader Joe's in Minnesota now does sell ground pork, hooray!)