Finnish Meatballs with Allspice, Sour Cream and Lingonberries

This is so Finnish and probably one of the dishes that really remains in my mind from my childhood. Allspice is very popular in Finland; its taste is a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. You can use ordinary cream instead of the sour cream here. You can also use store-bought jam.–Tessa Kiros

LC Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs Note

We’ve often found that a mood can be made dramatically less pouty merely with the presence of meatballs. Learning to discern this is sorta like learning to predict the weather forecast. You know, cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Finnish Meatballs Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 pounds ground pork and beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Lingonberry or cranberry jam (homemade or store-bought), for serving

Directions

  • 1. Soak the bread in the milk in a large bowl for about 30 minutes or until it has absorbed all the milk and is very soft. Add the ground pork and beef, egg, onion, and allspice and season with salt and pepper. Knead together well with your hands, then form into small balls about the size of walnuts, rolling them between your palms so that they are compact and won’t fall apart when cooking.
  • 2. Heat 2 1/2 tablespoons butter with the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Fry the meatballs in batches, turning them once during cooking. (You will have to work quite quickly and take care not to burn the butter and oil. If necessary, wipe out the skillet between batches and start again with a little less butter and oil.) Transfer the cooked meatballs to a heavy-based saucepan with any onion that is on the bottom of the skillet and continue with the next batch.
  • 3. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet and mix with a wooden spoon until it is smooth. Add the remaining butter and let it melt. Continue cooking, stirring almost continuously, until it is a golden color. Remove the pan from the heat and very slowly pour in 2 cups hot water, standing back a bit. Mix in quickly, then return the pan to the heat. Stir in the sour cream and mix well, then carefully pour over the meatballs. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, covered, over very low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until you have a thick creamy sauce with soft meatballs to serve with berry jam and boiled potatoes.
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Brenda Carleton

Jun 08, 2009

As I have celiac disease, I obviously didn’t use regular white bread, but substituted white gluten-free bread, which worked just as well. I also substituted white rice flour for all-purpose flour. The recipe specifies ground allspice, but I like to toast whole allspice and grind it for a fresher, more intoxicating flavor. Of course, that is not necessary, but is my personal preference.

These meatballs are nothing really unusual at all, but are very tasty with the creamy sauce. We do not have lingonberries here, and at the time I did not have lingonberry preserves, so I used cranberry jam. Red currant would also work nicely. The slightly sweet yet savory meatballs contrasted nicely wit the tart jam. Perhaps next time I will add a touch of freshly-grated nutmeg as well. To sum up — a simple and basic — yet delicious — meatball recipe that deserves to be enjoyed again and again.

Comments
Comments
  1. zanne says:

    Since I’m allergic to cloves, what would anyone suggest as to ratios of the other spices since I can’t use allspice?
    BTW, does anyone remember the movie “I Remember Mama”? Her secret for the recipe was to cook the meatballs in stock. Wonder how that would work out.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Zanne, allspice is a spice unto itself and comes from the pimento tree. It’s flavor is reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

  2. Robyn says:

    I have been living in Finland for 5 years now and have asked family, “How does your mom make her meatballs?” Always they tell me, “I don’t know, just with pepper and meat I think.” So your recipe has cleared everything up for me. I now realize when they say spice pepper (maustepippuri) they are talking about allspice and not pepper. We make these at least once a week now, my 1 year old loves them (and so do I). Thank you!

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