More Than Meatballs: From Arancini to Zucchini Fritters and 65 Recipes in Between, written by Michele Anna Jordan, takes culinary tour of classic meatballs from around the world along with a few unique and even meatless varieties in the comfort of your own kitchen. A few notable recipes include Summertime Spaghetti & Meatballs, Queso Fundido with Chorizo Meatballs, Vietnamese Shrimp Balls, Spanish Croquettes with Jamón Serrano, Roasted Garlic Meatballs, and Chicken Kiev Meatballs. I will also be sharing her recipe for Swedish Meatballs following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Michele Anna Jordan
Michele Anna Jordan is an award-winning writer and chef. In addition to her 24 books, Michele also has a radio show called Mouthful (a four-time James Beard nominee), a website (micheleannajordan.com), and has been featured in a variety of publications. She currently resides in Sebastopol in western Sonoma County.
More Than Meatballs
Michele begins with a primer on meatballs with history, their part in popular culture, and everything you need to create a solid base. You will learn about the best types of meat, fats, seasonings, fillers, binders, cheese, and more. I particularly enjoyed the tips and step-by-step photos on working with caul fat as a way to wrap the meatball. This helps keep the moisture in and retain the shape without having to roll each ball in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Necessary equipment and skills are also covered.
Chapters are divided based on style: A Meatball Primer, Delicious Traditions and Contemporary Customs, Going Meatless, and Context is Everything. The table of contents also lists the recipes with page numbers for easy reference.
The photography is provided by Liza Gershman. A few of the recipes include full page photos, generally of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in US Customary and every recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, and serving tips. Variations and wine pairings are also included for many of the meatballs.
This book is a great pick for meatball lovers. Most of the recipes aren’t complicated and the well-written instructions makes them easy to replicate at home. You won’t find any desserts here. Everything is savory. Chapter 3 is devoted to meatless recipes, though a handful of the recipes in this section do sometimes include meats such as prosciutto or bacon so they may not be completely meatless. The meat just isn’t the star. There are many gluten-free options or ways to substitute with a gluten-free alternative. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few that may be more difficult to locate include caul fat, duck egg, jamón serrano, green peppercorns, rice flour, lingonberry jam, and cilantro roots.
Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar med Gräddsås) are a particularly popular meatball variety created by combining ground meats (beef and pork used here) with nutmeg, allspice, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, and parsley. After browning, the meatballs are simmered in a creamy beef gravy until well-coated. The flavors of the meatballs and gravy were spot-on. Michele offers an option of using creme fraiche instead of the traditional sour cream to create a more luscious sauce with a little less tang. Homemade stock is preferable to store-bought if you have it available.
Gently stir the meatballs frequently as they are browning to keep them uniform in shape. I could have done a better job of this so a few of mine were somewhat off-kilter. For a gluten-free option, the panko breadcrumbs can be swapped for a gluten-free version that is available in some restaurant supply stores or on Amazon.
For serving, I paired the gravy-laden meatballs with mashed potatoes (Köttbullar med Potatismos) and lingonberry jam. Lingonberry Jam is a type of condiment popular in Scandinavian cooking. It is used in many traditional dishes or paired with pancakes and potatoes. I have been able to locate it in the jam or international section of some larger grocery stores. Lately, I have been picking up a jar whenever I make a trip to my local IKEA.
I also made Mexican Albondigas, Carrot Fritters, Meatball Tacos, and A Classic Meatball Sandwich.
The Mexican Albondigas are formed with a combination of beef and pork with onion, garlic, spices, and egg. Michele also includes diced zucchini and the option of steamed quinoa. I especially loved the accompanying crema dipping sauce. These meatballs can be paired with posole rojo, queso fundido, or in sandwiches, tortas, and tacos.
The Carrot Fritters come from the meatless section. I didn’t get my grated carrots quite fine enough so they weren’t as pretty and uniform, but still quite delicious. Grated carrots are combined with cilantro, ginger, cumin, and eggs before forming into balls and frying. The fritters are served with a honey mustard or honey-ginger mustard dipping sauce. Michele also includes suggestions for serving or wine pairings.
I made the Meatball Tacos in the middle of our move to a new house so I ended up substituting a couple of ingredients that I thought I had on hand and actually didn’t. I used the Mexican Albondigas as the base (Chorizo Meatballs or Firebombs can also be used) for the supposed-to-be corn tortillas (I used flour at the last minute since I misplaced my masa- always check to make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before starting to cook) and topped the tortillas with grated cheese, radishes, and a little of the crema that I made with the Mexican Albondigas.
For the Meatball Sandwich, I used The Meatball as the base- a mixture of beef and pork with onion, garlic, parsley, bread, cheese, eggs, and spices. These little sandwiches were the biggest hit with the family. The meatballs were placed inside toasted French rolls and topped with sautéed onions, cheese, and parsley. Michele also includes notes for Roasted Sweet Pepper and Meatball Sandwich, Meatballs Marinara Sandwich, Thanksgiving Meatball Sandwich, and Hawaiian Meatball Sandwich as variations.
Looking for more meatball recipes?
Try Hutspot met Gehaktballen (Dutch Mashed Potatoes and Carrots with Meatballs), Kanda (Central African Pumpkin Seed Meatballs), and Albondigas al Buyor (Greek-Jewish Meatballs in a Sweet-and-Sour Sauce).
Swedish Meatballs Recipe
Excerpt from More Than Meatballs
For the Meatballs:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper in a mill
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup Panko or coarse homemade breadcrumbs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Lingonberry Jam
For the Gravy:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper in a mill
- 3 cups homemade beef stock
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Pour enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of a large heavy saute pan. Set over medium low heat and add the onion. Saute until very soft and fragrant, 15-20 minutes; do not let the onion brown. Season lightly with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and let cool.
- Put the beef and pork into a mixing bowl, add the nutmeg, allspice, Panko or breadcrumbs, egg yolks, parsley, and cooled onion. Mix well with your hands, a large wooden spoon, or a vegetable masher. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Set a baking sheet or large plate next to a clean work surface. Assemble all the ingredients for the gravy.
- Remove the meatball mixture from the refrigerator and shape it into small balls, about 1 to 1 1/4 inches. As you work, set each formed meatball on the baking sheet or platter.
- Return the saute pan to medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. When the pan is hot, add some of the meatballs, being careful not to crowd them. Cook the meatballs carefully turning them frequently so that they keep their ship, until they firm up, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the cooked meatballs back to the sheet pan or plate and continue until all the meatballs have been cooked.
- Put the butter into the pan and use a whisk or metal spatula to scrape up bits of meat stuck to the pan. When the butter is foamy, sprinkle in the flour. Stir and cook until it takes on a lightly golden brown hue. Season with salt and pepper and slowly whisk in the beef stock. Simmer gently for 3-4 minutes, until the gravy begins to thicken. Stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream, taste for salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.
- Reduce the heat to low, carefully tip the meatballs into the gravy and jostle the pan to arrange them evenly; turn any that are not fully coated with the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, keep covered and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wide shallow serving bowl and serve right away, with the jam alongside.