Finnish meatballs, sour cream & lingonberries


The dish my mother always made, the one that always remains in my mind. All-spice is very often used in Finnish dishes.
You can use ordinary cream instead of the sour cream if you prefer. The lingonberry or cranberry jam is very easy to make. This recipe is from 'Falling Cloudberries'. Lovely with boiled potatoes or mash

Serves 4-6

3 slices white bread, crusts removed
160ml milk
1kg minced pork & beef
1 large egg
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground all-spice
60g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plain flour
200g sour cream
lingonberry or cranberry jam (below)

Soak the bread in the milk in a large bowl for about 30 minutes or until it has absorbed all the milk & is very soft. Add the mince, egg, onion & all-spice & season with salt & 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 & won't fall apart when cooking.
Heat 40g of the butter with the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches, turning them once during cooking (You will have to work quite quickly & take care not to burn the butter & oil. If necessary, wipe out the pan & add a little more butter & oil to the pan). Transfer the cooked meatballs to a heavy-based saucepan.
Sprinkle the flour into the pan the meatballs were fried in & mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the remaining butter & let it melt. Continue cooking, stirring almost continuously, until it is golden (this will give a nice colour to your gravy, but take care not to burn it as it will taste bitter). Remove from the heat, slowly pour in 500ml hot water, standing back a bit. Return to the heat, stir in the sour cream & mix well, then carefully add the meatballs back. Season lightly with salt & pepper & cook on very low heat for 10-15 minutes, until you have a thick, creamy sauce with soft meatballs to serve with berry jam & potatoes.

photo by Manos Chatzikonstantis, styling by Michail Touros



Berries are everywhere in Finland, growing in clumps on small bushes.
This is a lovely tart jam that is delicious served with meat, game & hams.

350g fresh or frozen lingonberries or cranberries
120g sugar
finely grated rind & juice of ½ a lemon
½ an apple, peeled, cored & chopped

Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot & bring to a boil. Lower, remove 3 or 4 tablespoons of the berries to a bowl & set aside. Add ½ cup water to the pot & simmer for about 30 minutes until thickened. Add the reserved berries & simmer for a few more minutes. Cool.
When completely cool, spoon into a jar & keep in the fridge.