I'll be honest. I don't really understand the allure of cafeteria-style dining. I hate buffets. I don't like the idea of food that has been prepared with the idea of serving hundreds. I guess I'm too snobby. Anyway, the meatballs at this large furniture store were actually okay. But I was convinced I could do better. I really want to be the kind of cook that creates dishes that my husband says, "Wow! That's the best _______ I've ever had!" It hasn't happened yet, but I'll keep trying.
The actual meatball isn't the challenging part. The whole composition of a meatball sets it up to be tasty: meat, onion, breadcrumbs, etc. It is kind of hard to make a bad meatball - if you remember to sear it in the skillet first and finish it in the oven. The tricky part is the sauce. The previously mentioned furniture store meatballs have a creamy sauce that while mass-produced, tastes pretty yummy. I can't stand to put heavy cream or half and half in anything, so I was determined to create something that mimicked that but didn't actually include said ingredients. My solution is the following recipe. I think it sounds a little weird, but tastes really good.
Mindy's Swedish Meatballs (BTW, this is the first recipe I can name after myself!)
*note: I don't actually measure the ingredients. Measures are approximate.
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix beef, egg, milk, garlic, onion and breadcrumbs together. Shape into 1" balls and brown in hot skillet. Transfer partially-cooked meatballs to cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven until thoroughly cooked. (About 20 minutes)
Put 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup cottage cheese in food processor and blend until smooth. You can skip this step, but it makes the incorporation at the end take a long time and a lot of whisking.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet you used to brown meatballs. Add 1 tablespoon flour and cook 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups beef broth. Whisk together until smooth and cook until slightly thickened. Add black pepper and worcestershire sauce to taste. Add blended sour cream/cottage cheese mixture and cook over low heat until thickened. Add cooked meatballs to sauce and heat through.
Serve meatballs and sauce over cooked egg noodles. (I use whole wheat noodles. Yummy.)