A few weeks ago I got my hands on one of the newest books from Cook’s Illustrated called “The Science of Good Cooking.” I knew right away that I would like it, but I wanted to have you guys vote on what I should make first.
You picked meatballs. In fact, for those keeping track, you guys have voted for some form of meatball two times in a row! And for the record, I have absolutely zero qualms about this.
These little guys are originally supposed to be an appetizer, but I turned them into a full meal just by serving them on some egg noodles.
After the recipe, be sure to enter to win one of three copies that I’m giving away of The Science of Good Cooking!
If you are making the pickles:
1) Slice cucumbers into 1/8 inch rounds.
2) Add vinegar, sugar, salt, and allspice berries to a small pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a minute until sugar and salt are dissolved.
3) Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers in a small bowl and stir to separate cucumber slices. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Then uncover and let cool to room temperature as you make the meatballs. Drain and remove allspice berries before serving.
1) Add cream, egg, and bread pieces to a small bowl and let the bread absorb the liquid.
2) In a bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), or just in a medium bowl, mix together ground pork with onion and spices until the mixture is well combined. Then mix in bread mixture and beat until the mixture is pale and slightly fluffy.
3) Finally, beat in ground beef until it is just combined.
4) Form meat mixture into about 30 evenly sized balls (about a tablespoon per meatball).
5) Heat oil in a large high-walled skillet or pan until it is roughly 350 degrees. Add meatballs and cook until they are browned on all sides and cooked through, about five minutes per side.
6) When meatballs are done, remove them from the pan and let them drain on a few paper towels. Pour out oil (carefully) and reduce heat to medium. Add butter and flour to pan and whisk it until it forms a light roux. Cook for a minute to cook out the flour flavor.
7) Slowly whisk in chicken stock and use a spoon to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan as you go. The mixture should continue to thicken. Once all the stock is added, add cream and sugar and simmer until thickened, a few minutes.
8) Add meatballs back to pan and toss to warm them and coat them with sauce. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
9) Serve meatballs as an appetizer with quick pickles or over egg noodles for a full meal!
The Quick Pickle
Have you ever read part of a recipe and said to yourself, “Well, that just seems silly” only to later find out that it is not, in fact, silly?
I did that for these quick pickles that go with the meatballs. The recipe specifies exactly twelve allspice berries. I thought this was silly so I just threw in a handful. Later, I realized why twelve is important.
You want to use twelve so you can find them all when you want to serve the pickles! Having a rogue allspice berry in your pickle is a good way to chip a tooth! If you go in with 12 and out with 12 then you know you are good to go.
Making the pickles is really easy. Just slice your cucumbers thin and then bring all the other ingredients to a simmer in a small pot. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and let it sit for about fifteen minutes.
I actually served the pickles with the pasta which was kind of weird. I think the pickles are more important if you want to make the meatballs as an appetizer.
The Meatball Mix
Swedish meatballs have a very distinct texture and the book explains how you can get that texture. It’s basically a mixture of pork, beef, spices, grated onion, and panade which is just a mixture of egg, cream, and bread.
The recipe for the panade calls for sandwich bread, but I weirdly didn’t have any bread on this day so I just used breadcrumbs. It seemed to work fine to me. I just mixed my egg, cream, and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl.
The original recipe recommends using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to whip the ground pork with the onions and spices so it gets almost fluffy. Then you add in your panade mixture.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can still make this recipe. Just mix together everything really well.
Once you have the pork, spices, onions, and panade mixed together, then you can add in the beef.
Stir that all together until it is just combined and then portion out your meatballs. Shoot for large tablespoon-sized meatballs and you should get about thirty.
Cooking the Meatballs
You actually fry these suckers. It makes them extra delicious.
Just add about half an inch of oil to a large skillet or pan and heat it over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, add your meatballs and let them cook for about ten minutes total until they are nicely browned on all sides.
Here are my finished meatballs!
Once they are cooked, remove them and let them drain on a few paper towels while you make the sauce.
Carefully pour out the oil from your pan and then you’ll be left with a pretty dirty pan. This is good news because all of that dirtiness is actually flavor.
Add the butter and flour to the pan and turn your stove down to medium heat. Whisk all of that together and after about a minute you’ll have a dry roux from the butter/flour mixture.
Then start slowly adding your chicken stock, whisking constantly. Use the liquid to continue scraping up bits from the pan.
After all your chicken stock is added, it should start to thicken as it simmers. At that point, stir in the cream and sugar and continue to simmer. Season the gravy with the lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Then add the meatballs back into the sauce and stir everything together!
You could easily just put these in a bowl and let people snack on them (they won’t last long), but I like to make a full meal out of mine.
These are really delicious. I would definitely say that I’m one for one out of this cookbook!
The Science of Good Cooking is a really cool concept for a book. The book is broken up into 50 different concepts. Each concept will teach you how to be a better cook and also comes with a few recipes that use that specific concept.
I love the layout. The chapter with these meatballs, for example, is called “A Panade keeps ground meat tender.” It explains the science behind why that is true and then gives you a few recipes to try out with that concept like these meatballs or some good burgers.
Cook’s Illustrated is nice enough that they are giving me three copies of the book to give away to you guys! Just use the widget below to enter to win or, if you can’t get the widget to load, just leave a comment!
The giveaway closes on Friday at 8PM Pacific time and I’ll announce the winners on Saturday! Unfortunately, I can only ship to U.S. addresses.