Swedish Curried Meatballs

When I’d been checking out ways to cook meatballs recently, I dipped into Trina Hahnemann’s glossily glamorous but very useable Scandinavian Cookbook. It inspired Pork Meatballs in Lemon Gravy with Carrots and Leeks which I highly recommend but made me want to have a go at making a version of her Swedish Curried Meatballs. They were a huge hit and come highly recommended. I served them over cous cous rather than rice with swirls of mango chutney that you can just make out in the picture. The dish is usefully make-ahead and zizzed up just before serving with fresh coriander.

Serves 4
Prep: 40 min
Cook: 60 min

2 small shallots or 1 small onion
1 garlic
1 egg
4 tbsp milk
400g minced pork
½ tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp flour
4 bay fresh bay leaves

for the sauce:
1 onion
25g butter
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp thick cream or crème fraiche
600ml of the meatball poaching liquid
3 trimmed leeks, approx 300g
squeeze lemon

to serve:
mango chutney and chopped coriander

Halve, peel and finely chop the shallots or onion. Place in a mixing bowl with the peeled and crushed garlic, egg and milk. Crumble the mince over the top and sprinkle curry powder and flour into the mix. Season with salt and pepper.  Use your hands to mix and mulch and keep on working the mix almost as if you were dealing with pastry or dough but aiming to end up with a light and fluffy mixture. Allow about 10 minutes for this messy job; it’s worth it. Meanwhile, place the bay leaves and 1 tsp salt in a wide-based pan – I used a sauté pan – with 2 litres of water. Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. With wet hands, roughly halve the mince and pinch off sufficient mix to roll between your hands into balls about the size of a large cherry tomato. Transfer to a plate as you go. I made 20-odd balls from each half. They will seem very soft and floppy but drop half the balls into the simmering stock and simmer for 15 minutes – the water will take about 5 minutes to return to simmer. They will swell and firm. Scoop the balls onto a plate and cook the second lot as before. Keep the cooking liquid/stock. Trim and cut the leeks into approximately 6cm lengths. Agitate in a bowl of water to loosen any grit and drain. To make the sauce, halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Soften in 25g melted butter in a spacious pan, stir in the curry powder and flour then briskly stir in 600ml of the stock from cooking the meatballs. Keep stirring to avoid any lumps, using a globe whisk if lumps occur, then stir in the cream. Taste and add salt and a generous squeeze of lemon to sharpen. Stir in the leek, semi-cover the pan and cook gently for about 8 minutes until tender to the point of a sharp knife. Add the meatballs, warm through and serve meatballs, leeks and lovely sauce now or later with a mango chutney zig-zag garnish and chopped coriander.