So before I start writing, and you start reading, I just want to give the disclaimer that I am happy, blessed, and thankful to have a job during a time of two very discouraging factors: 1) the obvious state of the economy, and 2) the not-so-obvious state of education and good teachers repeatedly loosing their jobs due to budget cuts and lack of tenure. I have been tenured, I have done my time with the union, and now I’m starting over in a new district, new city, and with new little people that will – hopefully – one day make a positive impact on society. And I’m so blessed to be continuing my professional career, as well as pulling in a paycheck during these times. So now that the fine print is over, here come the more immediate feelings.
LITTLE KIDS HAVE BIG GERMS. They are snotty! They are dirty! They eat with their fingers and spill their food, and they love every minute of it. Don’t you remember being a kid? Come on, if you think hard enough you might just be able to start tasting the blue box mac-n-cheese. So needless to say, I’m experiencing the beginning of the school year cold coming on, and it’s a doozie. Teachers never get sick the first week, maybe not even the first few weeks. But come that 3rd week, when the schedules have been made, and the kids have sneezed enough times, and maybe a little one forgetting to wash their hands after using the bathroom comes back to your room just one too many times, it hits. Sore throat, headache, body aches, and overall feeling of, well, ickyness. Being the math specialist at our school, I haven’t worked with A classroom of students, but a whole SCHOOL of them. And trust me, on pizza day, there is no way those kids are staying home, even if they have a couple sniffles.
So last night was comfort food: Swedish Meatballs with some raw farm basket veggies. I had actually been planning the meal for a while (give the hubby a rare hearty meat dish, as well as sticking to my roots), but it was made even better by also serving it to a friend, who had helped us out earlier in the day (moving a washer and dryer isn’t the easiest task. So I’m told. I was taking a nap for that part). There’s nothing better than entertaining with comfort food! What better way to make someone feel at home in your house than to serve them warming gravy soaked meat?
Well, the meatballs turned out perfectly – seasoned with spices and fresh from the parsley, with just the slightest tang from the goat cheese and mustard. The gravy was finger-licking smooth, rounding out the meatballs with the perfect texture and coating mouth-feel. The conversation was fun, and the late night Wii playing just topped off the evening (p.s. I am a champion Wii fencer. It was only fitting that I cut our wedding cake with a sword). We poured rounds of wine into our new goblets, and were able to pull out other wedding gifts to entertain. By the end of the night, my oncoming flu was the last thing I was feeling. Maybe it was the meatballs, maybe it was the fun, or quite possibly it was the wine, but there was no antibiotic in the world that could have made me feel better than the hug of a great, comforting night.
Swedish Meatballs in Gravy
Meatballs (makes 12):
- 1 lb. finely ground turkey meat
- 1 lightly beaten large egg
- 1/2 c unseasoned bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped dill (I alternate dill and rosemary depending on the season. Dill is more harvest/summery)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 3 oz good goat cheese (I always look for goat cheese made in Sonoma, CA)
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- s&p to taste
Have a sheet tray lined with parchment paper ready and turn the oven on to broil. Add all ingredients into a large bowl, and mix with clean hands. Form into balls, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter. Evenly place meatballs on sheet tray, and broil for 10 minutes, turning the meatballs after the first 5 minutes.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 c finely chopped white onion
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 – 3 c low sodium chicken broth, warmed
- Optional: chopped parsley, for garnish
Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, a bit of salt, and saute until onions turn soft and translucent. Add the flour, stir, and let the flour “cook out” for about a minute. Then, in 1/2 cup increments, add the chicken broth, constantly whisking to get rid of lumps. You will be able to tell when the gravy is at a good texture by coating a wooden spoon and running your finger down the back. If the finger line stays in tact, you’ve got a good gravy thickness. Add the meatballs to the pan, cover the meatballs with the gravy, and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, returning every 5 minutes to re-cover the meatballs in the gravy. Note: the gravy will thicken a bit more during this time. So if you want a thinner gravy, add more liquid during the whisking process.
Serve hot, and top with fresh parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
NOTE: Traditional Swedish Meatballs are made with a mixture beef, pork, and sometimes veal, and are fried to brown rather than broiled. I wanted to do more of a healthier version of the dish, thus the turkey and lack of frying. But trust me – with these flavors, you’ll never miss the extra fat.