One Christmastime, when I was nine or ten, I was invited to a party at my dance teacher’s house. All of my friends and their mothers were going. I carefully dressed up in my red Jessica McClintock frock with the white lace bib, with black patent leather Mary Janes and white tights. I felt quite sophisticated. When we arrived, there was punch and games, pigs in a blanket, and a pot of Swedish meatballs bubbling on the table. We watched The Nutcracker, ate massive amounts of snickerdoodles and drank cocoa, and as the clock struck nine, we had to take our poor mothers home to bed. They were not used to partying quite so hard.
I’ll never forget how warm it was in that little house or how special it felt to be up late, celebrating, eating exotic foods and giggling with the people I saw everyday, but who looked different, older, like magic, in the glowing light of the enormous tree. I thought this wonderful dish could be translated into party food, an hors d’oeuvre you pick up with toothpicks or for a weeknight dinner, with rice and a green salad. I’m thinking fondly of the little dancing girls we were, and I hope they are all grown-up, happy and well, as we wanted to be.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 3 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup half and half
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parsley, for garnish
In a large bowl mix together everything but the oil. Roll mixture into little balls. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place half the meatballs in the pan and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate and keep them warm in the oven, brown the second batch.
In a deep sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, stirring until it begins to bubble and becomes fragrant. Stir in the chicken broth, using a wooden spoon to pick up the bottom of the pan bits. Turn the heat up and bring the sauce to a boil. Stir in Dijon mustard, honey, and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer 5-7 minutes. Stir in the half and half. Season and taste. Gently transfer meatballs into the pan and let them cook in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Garnish with lots of fresh parsley.