...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Food journal number 62: Wallenbergare


Because the Muppet Show's Swedish Chef cooks them, and because of the fact that IKEA makes millions selling them for lunch, "Swedish meatballs" is an often-heard term. There are even recipes online under the label of Swedish meatballs — even if they're really just plain meatballs.

I wonder if it's the addition of milk or cream that makes these meatballs "Swedish"? Or maybe it's because of the fact that they're usually eaten with the sweet lingonberry jam? Many of the ground meat recipes I've encountered here are cooked milk or cream, and are served with lingonberry: Kålpudding, kåldolmar and pannbiff are examples. I guess one exception is the taco. Swedes eat lots of tacos. And though they eat it with sour cream, they spare the jam. Gracias a Dios!

Another dairy-combined, jam-partnered ground meat dish is the Wallenbergare. Very "Swedish" as the dish name derives from The Wallenbergs, a prominent Swedish banking family, the inspiration of the dish is purportedly French. One story goes that Marcus Wallenberg's father-in-law, who was a chef, named this fancy dish for his son in law. In another story though, the Wallenbergs arrive from France to a local Swedish restaurant and request "food as they have it in the continent". The chef whipped up veal patties and served it with pommes duchesse, or oven-baked mashed potatoes.

Today, there are many ways to prepare and serve the Wallenbergare, not least in a typically complicated French style. Some recipes insist that the veal (meat from a young calf) be ground twice, or even thrice. Some insist that, instead of bread crumbs, the inner part of a French baguette should be the filler. I made it easy for myself, and followed this recipe below (one that doesn't require breadcrumbs, either). I didn't care for mashed potatoes, but if you do decide to make them, the creamy type probably goes well with this (also creamy) patty.

Wallenbergare (recipe from Annas svenska kök)

500 g ground veal
2 deciliters whipping cream (40% fat)
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
dash of ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons butter for frying

1. All ingredients should be cold. Mix the ground veal with the cream, a little at a time. Then mix in the yolks one at a time. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. Form into 8 big patties, set aside on some wax paper.

3. Fry, some at a time, in a pan with butter, for 3-4 minutes on each side.

(I read in other sites that the patty should remain light in color, not dark brown. But as you can see from my own Wallenbergare, it was already too late when I read about it.)

4. The dish is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, peas and — yup! Lingonberry jam.

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