Nanna's European (IKEA) style meatballs in creamy sauce with buttered noodles

Posted May 26th, 2014 by Mimi

We call these 'IKEA meatballs' with trepidation.

They're not identical, but my Nanna was making these long before IKEA graced our shores and the amount of butter she'd use on the noodles that came with them....well....let's just say it wouldn't earn the Heart Foundation tick!

Nonetheless, they do resemble the IKEA ones, and her method of making the mince into a sausage shape and then cutting the meatballs with a knife, much as you would Gnocchi, renders them similar in size and shape.

She'd use the cream that floated to the top of the fresh milk from our own cow, to make them rich and lush, and she'd add more of that cream to the sauce. Yes, heart attack on a platter for sure, but it was a different era.

In this more enlightened era, I choose to use powdered milk in the meatballs, and skim milk for the sauce, and it's still delicious.

You need to rest these in the refrigerator for a while to firm them up, so start these in the morning for tonight, or at least an hour ahead of when you'd like to cook them.

Nannas European Meatballs

For 4 serves

For the meatballs you'll need:

500gms mince (pork or veal or a mixture is particularly nice)

4 slices fresh bread

2 tablespoons of milk powder

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, peeled and grated (reserve 1 teaspoon grated onion for the sauce)

1/2 teaspoon dried Dill

Cooking spray

Baking paper

For the Sauce you'll need:

500 mls milk (or cream if you prefer)

2 beef stock cubes, crumbled

1 teaspoon reserved grated onion or dried onion granules

2 tablespoons cornflour mixed with a tablespoon of water to a paste (not necessary if you're using cream)

Pinch nutmeg

To serve, you'll need:

For authenticity, I'd serve these with fettucine or parpadalle tossed lightly in a little unsalted butter, fresh garlic slivers and fresh dill, but if you want a more IKEA sort of dish, then go with the traditional mashed potato or even rice. Just the smell of fresh dill reminds me of Nanna. She actually used to make her own noodles with a crepe batter which she'd pan fry into a pile of crepes, and then quickly slice into ribbons and return to the pan to toss with the butter and herbs. I can't be bothered with that mostly, so fettucine it is...gluten free for us, but it was certainly delicious done that way. She'd add some freshly shelled peas glistening with more butter, so for me, there is not other vegetable that is right, but of course you can have whatever greens you prefer :)

Fettucine or Parpadalle

2-3 sprigs fresh Dill, chopped roughly

2 cloves garlic, cut into fine slivers

A little oil or butter if you wish

Then just:

Crack the egg into a small bowl, and beat lightly. Add the milk powder and a splash of water. Pour this over the bread in a larger bowl, and knead it with clean hands till the bread is moistened. Add a little more water to make it into a gooey sort of dough if necessary.

Add the mince, the onion and the herbs and spices, and knead with a clean hand until well combined. Refrigerate for thirty minutes to allow the mixture to become more cohesive. You can skip this if you're in a hurry.

Line the bench with a sheet of baking paper, and roll the mince into several sausage shapes. Using a sharp knife, cut the sausage shapes into little log-like meatballs and set them aside on a platter. When all done, refrigerate to firm them for at least 30 minutes. Again, you can skip this if you're in a hurry, but it does make a difference to the texture and flavour.

Remove them from the refrigerator and dust them lightly with flour. We use cornflour, but it makes little difference. We just do that as we're gluten free here.

Warm the milk or cream for the sauce in the microwave, and add all the other ingredients (remembering to omit the cornflour if you're using cream) except for the fresh dill, stirring well. Set aside.

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the noodles.

Heat a large frypan or wok over a hotplate heated to High, and spray generously with cooking spray.

Pan fry the meatballs in batches until well browned, adding more cooking spray as required. Remove them as they are browned and set aside. Drain any excess fat from the pan.

Return the meatballs to the wok or pan, and add the sauce mixture, stirring and tossing the meatballs around in the sauce until it bubbles and thickens.

Cover the pan or wok, reduce the hotplate to low, and allow the meatballs to simmer in the sauce while the noodles cook.

By this time the water for the noodles should be boiling, so add those and let them cook to al dente`.

Check the meatballs, tossing them in the sauce from time to time to ensure they don't stick. Add a little more milk or water to the sauce if it's getting too thick and stir well.

Cook your peas while the noodles are cooking, using your preferred method. I just microwave mine.

Drain the noodles and toss with a little oil or butter if you wish, but remember you have that creamy sauce too. Add the fresh dill to the noodles and toss well.

Serve the meatballs and sauce next to, or over the noodles with the peas on the side.


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