Saturday, 23 August 2014

Low-Carb Swedish-Style Meatballs in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

Low-Carb Swedish-Style Meatballs in a Creamy
Lemon Sauce, with Cauliflower Mash.
These juicy meatballs are mouthwateringly good, and I hope you'll give my new recipe a try.  I adore meatballs, and in this recipe I've eliminated all starch to make this recipe suitable for diabetics and anyone else on a low-carb, #LCHF or Banting regime.

The lemony cream sauce cloaking these meatballs is inspired by similar Scandinavian recipes, but I've added my own twists.

This dish is easy to make, but it does require a large shallow pan, because the sauce - containing not a speck of flour - relies for its thickening on fast reduction. The bigger and shallower your pan, the sooner the sauce will thicken. If you don't have such a pan, use two big frying pans to make the dish, dividing the meatballs and sauce ingredients between them.

Most meatball recipes contain bread crumbs or bread soaked in milk, which help to lighten the mixture and produce soft-textured balls.

Because my recipe contains no carbs, the meatballs are pleasantly springy, but they will not turn into tough bullets if you carefully follow my cooking instructions. The yoghurt helps to create a tender mixture, so don't leave it out.

Wine recommendation from Michael OliverHe says: "Boschendal S&M, Shiraz Mourvèdre 2012."
Go to the end of the page for more detail about this wine pairing.

There is quite a lot of cream in the sauce, and I make no apologies for that, because fat is not a pressing issue when you're following a low-carb regime. However, if you'd like to lighten up the sauce, use half the quantity of cream, and carefully stir in half a cup of thick natural Greek yoghurt at the end.  (Here are my tips for cooking with yoghurt.)

Not a speck of starch in this recipe
This recipe also asks that you add and remove the meatballs from the pan several times, and I'm sorry to ask you to do this, but I've formulated the recipe in this way so that the sauce is lovely and thick, and the meatballs still tender.

You may raise an eyebrow at the quantity of nutmeg, allspice and pepper in the meatball mixture, but please trust me on this. This amount of meat needs robust seasoning, and when it's finished cooking the spicing is subtle, though distinct.

I recommend that you test the seasoning by frying a dab of the mixture before you roll it into balls - please see my instructions, below.  Also please note that allspice (comprising powdered pimento berries) is not the same as mixed spice.

If I were cooking for myself, I'd add some finely chopped capers, dill and anchovies to these meatballs. My kids and husband don't like these ingredients, however, so I've reluctantly left them out (although I did shower snipped dill over the top of the meatballs when I snapped these pictures).

I almost always use a combination of beef and pork mince when making meatballs because pork adds extra juiciness, but you can make these with beef alone, or with minced chicken.

Serve this with cauliflower mash or - if you're not on a low-carb regime - with creamy mashed potatoes or buttery champ.

This recipe serves 8-10, and makes about 45 meatballs, because at the moment I'm feeding many mouths. However, you can easily adapt it to serve 4-5 people by halving all the ingredients. I heartily suggest that you make the full amount of meatballs and freeze them, still raw, for future use. Or you can keep the cooked meatballs in a lidded plastic container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Low-Carb Swedish-Style Meatballs in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

For the meatballs: 

1 kg lean beef mince [ground beef]
500 g pork mince
1 small onion, peeled
2 large free-range eggs, lightly whisked
3 Tbsp (45 ml) natural yoghurt
2-3 tsp (10 - 15 ml) salt, to taste (see recipe, below)
2 tsp (10 ml) nutmeg
2 tsp (10 ml) allspice
1 tsp (5 ml) white pepper
1 tsp (5 ml) finely milled black pepper
the finely grated zest of a large lemon
4 Tbsp (60 ml) olive oil or sunflower oil, for frying

For the sauce: 

½ cup (125 ml) white wine
2 cups light beef or chicken stock (or water to which you've added a teaspoon or two of good-quality liquid or jellied stock, such as a Nomu Fond or Knorr Stock Pot)
the juice of a large lemon
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Dijon mustard
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream or thick fresh cream

To serve:

finely chopped fresh dill, parsley, or chives

Put the beef and pork mince into a large mixing bowl, or into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a plastic paddle or a dough hook.

Grate the onion on the fine teeth of your cheese grater to create a smooth wet pulp.

Add the onion pulp to the bowl along with all the remaining meatball ingredients. Using your hands, squish and squeeze the mixture until well combined. (If you're using an electric mixer, beat the ingredients together on a low speed until well mixed, but don't over-process the mixture, or it will become sticky and too homogenous.)

Now test the seasoning. Heat a lick of oil in a frying pan. Pinch off some of the meat mixture, press it into a little patty and fry it for a minute or two minutes on each side. Taste the patty once it's cooled slightly. You might need to add more salt, or a whisper more of nutmeg, allspice and pepper, if you can't clearly taste these flavours.  Place the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.

Roll the meat mixture between the palms of your hands into small even-sized balls.

I always fry meatballs in a circle, and then flip them over
in the order in which I placed them in the pan. Watch them
closely, as they brown quickly. 
Heat the oil in a large, shallow non-stick pan over a medium-high heat and fry the meatballs, in batches of 10, for 1-2 minutes on one side, or until they've developed a deep-golden crust on their undersides. Now flip them over and fry them for a further minute or two. Don't over-crowd the pan, and watch them closely, as they blacken in an instant.

When them meatballs look toasty on both sides (but are still half-raw inside) remove and set aside. Tilt the pan over a bowl and spoon away any excess fat.

Put the pan back on a high heat, and tip in the wine, stirring and scraping to dislodge any sticky brown bits. Now pour in the stock and cook at a brisk bubble for 4 minutes, or until the stock has reduced by about a third. Add the lemon juice and mustard, whisk well to combine, and bubble for a further 2 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pan. Arrange them in a single layer so the liquid comes about half-way up their middles. Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer at a gentle bubble for about 4 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked right through, but still soft and tender.

Once again, remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside while you add the finishing touches to the sauce.

Pour the sour cream into the liquid left in the pan and whisk well to combine.  Reduce over a fairly high heat until the sauce is thickened and glossy, and a beautiful cafe-au-lait colour.   Return the meatballs, plus any juices that have accumulated underneath them, to the pan.  Heat through for one minute, season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Scatter over the fresh dill, parsley or chives and serve immediately with steamed veggies and cauliflower mash. Or proper mashed potatoes, or garlicky champ, if you're not low-carbing.

Makes about 45 meatballs, and serves 8. 

Wine pairing by Michael Olivier

Boschendal S&M, Shiraz Mourvèdre 2012

It looks like: Deep dark ruby plum at the core which pales to purple garnet at the rim.

It smells like: Toasty oak with waves of back cherry and a grind if white peppercorns.

It tastes like: Easy soft entry of sappy spiced plums and brambles on a broad palate with soft tannins. Really good mouthful with an undertow of dark chocolate, oak and its concomitant spices. Quality shows in the long full and gently waning aftertaste.

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Chelsea said...

YUM! I love meatballs, but almost always make the Italian with red sauce variety. I can't wait to try this lemony version!

Liz said...

I made this tonight for supper and it was delicious! I added some bread (we are not Banting and I didn't have pork mince). I also added an anchovy to the mix. Initially. I thought the sauce was too salty, but, combined with the meat, it was a delicious meal with really different flavours, Thanks Jane-Anne!

Anonymous said...

Delicious meatballs, a change from the Italian style tomato-sauced variety. The nutmeg, allspice and 2 different ground peppers make a deliciously warm, aromatic favour. Thank you Jane-Anne.