Friday, April 24, 2009

Ingmar Bergman Swedish Meatballs

You might not think The 99 Cent Chef a fan of Swedish existentialist filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. After all the Chef's short food films are light, comedic fare; but don't be fooled, even comedian auteur Woody Allen ventures over to the bleak side now and then. While Ingmar Bergman is best known for brooding scenes of Stringbergian domestic angst, he would often include comedic elements and a touch of the frisky sex romp. This is what first attracted me, humor mixed with fatalism, when I haunted art house movie theaters upon my arrival here in the film capitol (anyone remember The Fox Venice Theater on Lincoln Boulevard?).

Now on to a Swedish culinary classic done in the 99 cent manner.
On my frequent trips to Swedish discount furniture store Ikea, when the window shopping and furniture gazing induces a Scandinavian-like snow blindness, the Chef always makes his way to their cafeteria to rejuvenate over a plate of Swedish meatballs with lingonberries and boiled potatoes in a rich cream gravy. This traditional Swedish dish appears bland but is quite flavorful with nutmeg-spiced mini-meatballs. To keep the price down the Chef uses ground poultry and breakfast pork, instead of more expensive ground beef. To the poultry/pork meatballs add some beef bouillon, and substitute a side of whole cranberry sauce for hard-to-find lingonberries. In these final chilly nights of the season, this tasty fare will lift your spirits. There you have it, another cinema-inspired dish -- Ingmar Bergman Swedish Meatballs.

Ingredients (serves about 4)
  • 5 slices of white bread or sourdough with 1/4 cup of milk or cream
  • 1/2 chopped onion1 lb. of ground pork or breakfast links
  • 1lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (less salt as bouillon cubes contain plenty)
  • Serve with boiled white or red potatoes
  • and whole cranberry sauce

Cream Gravy Ingredients
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of milk or half and half milk
  • Pepper to taste

for Cream Gravy
Prepare cream gravy by heating flour for a couple of minutes and slowly whisk in water, milk and finally add a bouillon cube. Stir over medium heat about 10 minutes until gravy thickens.

Directions for Swedish Meatballs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop or tear white bread into small pieces and soak with 1/4 cup of milk or cream in a large bowl. Saute chopped onion with one bouillon cube in a tbsp. of oil for 5 minutes until soft. To bowl of bread and milk add ground pork and chicken (or turkey), 2 eggs, sauteed onion, nutmeg, allspice and salt and pepper. Mix well and form small one- to two-inch meatballs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Oven bake about 30 - 45 minutes. You can also just saute in batches with butter or oil until brown. When meatballs are done, serve topped with cream gravy, boiled potatoes (red or white) and whole cranberry sauce. Load your Netflix DVD of Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night" and enjoy the Chef's movie director themed dish.

Check out the classic Ingmar Bergman movie clip "Smiles of a Summer Night" paired with an interview of the Swedish cinema auteur.

And finally, this weekend is an annual Los Angeles literary highlight - The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA. Hopefully this year it will be cooler and cloudy, making hanging-out at the outdoor Culinary Stage bearable. The Chef is looking forward to seeing a cooking (toking) demo by the "Two Dudes", owner/chefs of Animal and a just published cookbook, "Two Dudes, One Pan", this Sunday at 11am. Also, the Chef's wife will be signing her book, "Sunset Boulevard, Cruising the Heart of Los Angels", at the Ange City Press booth from 2-4pm on Sunday. Best of all it is all free, just pay for parking. See you at the book fest!


camelia said...


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We would like to add it to the

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SPORTS SHORTS - Original Videos from Pete Handelman said...

mmmmm. that looks tasty!

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