In this week’s Martin & Sylvia: More Adventures! story "Family Dance", the whole family attends a dance at the Town Hall.
While they’re less common these days, historically family dances — sometimes called “barn dances” — were held in small communities to give people a chance to socialize or to fundraise for a worthy cause. Many such dances involved a potluck dinner where everyone would bring their favorite dish to share with friends and neighbors.
One of my favorite potluck recipes is my grandmother’s Swedish meatballs. Best served out of a warm crock-pot, they’ll continue to soak-in their own gravy as they sit on a buffet table. They only get more delicious as the night goes on!
They’re also easy to prepare, and they can be popped straight into your mouth from a cocktail pick without the need for more formal silverware — the perfect potluck food to fuel a good, old-fashioned dance.
(Makes about 24 meatballs)
For the meatballs
1 cup milk
2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs, whisked
2 pounds hamburger
1 pound sausage
small onion, diced
a pinch of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon salt
For the gravy
Reserved fat from cooking the meatballs
½ cup flour
About 4 cups meat or vegetable stock (I like to use mushroom stock)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix the milk, bread crumbs, and egg in a large bowl. Leave that to soak as you mix the remaining meatball ingredients in another bowl. Combine the contents of the two bowls and mix it all together. You can use a large spoon, but I always find that a pair of clean hands is the best tool for really getting the ingredients blended.
Breaking off walnut-sized lumps, form the meatball mixture into balls. Fry them in batches in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. If your sausage is very lean, you may have to add a little olive oil to the pan to make the meatballs fry correctly, but I’ve never had that problem.
When the meatballs are finished, add ½ cup flour to the fat that should be remaining in the pan. (Again, if your meatballs are very lean, you may have to add a little olive oil. You want to have about 4 Tablespoons of fat in the pan when you start.) Whisk the flour and fat continually until it congeals together and starts to turn light brown.
Add the stock and continue to whisk until any lumps in the gravy are broken up. Let the gravy simmer for at least 10 or 15 minutes to thicken. If it gets too thick, a little more stock or some water can be mixed in to thin it back out.
Put the meatballs in a large crock-pot or serving bowl and pour the gravy over the top. You can eat them right away, but they only get better if you take a little time to dance first!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.