This is a simple twist on classic beef Stroganoff for easy weeknight dining. Tender meatballs — either a combo of beef and pork or beef and ground moose mixed with grated onion for moisture and flavor — cook down in a mushroom gravy with a hit of nutmeg, mustard and tangy sour cream. Changing up the flavor profile is easy enough; add in some grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts or perhaps garlic chili crunch and chopped cilantro. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, polenta, or serve a few on toasted bread, top with provolone or mozzarella, and broil just until cheese is bubbling and melted.
For the meatballs:
3 slices white or whole wheat bread, crusts removed, cut into small cubes (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 large onion, grated using large holes on box grater (about 1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
1 pound ground pork or moose
2 medium eggs
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper or freshly-ground black pepper
Optional flavors: garlic chili crunch; grated Parmesan; toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces thinly sliced cremini or shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups homemade beef stock or store-bought low-sodium beef or chicken broth
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 to 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup sour cream, preferably full-fat to avoid curdling
For serving: Fresh-chopped parsley or dill; egg noodles or mashed potatoes
Place bread cubes in a large bowl and pour milk over; massage milk into bread and shred or pull apart to make smaller pieces. Grate onion using side with large holes of a box grater; add to bread mixture. Add garlic, ground meat, eggs, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon fine salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and any optional ingredients, i.e. grated Parm or toasted pine nuts, if using; mix with hands just until combined, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Note: Before forming and cooking all the meatballs, make a sample one: fry it in a pan; taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Roll mixture into small meatballs, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches round, and place on a sheet pan or large plate; the mixture should make about 38-40 meatballs.
Heat three tablespoons butter in a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan set over medium-high heat. When butter is foaming, add a few meatballs to the pan and cook in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Cook, turning occasionally with tongs, being careful not to break them. Cook until browned on all sides and just barely cooked through, about 7 to 9 minutes per batch, depending on size. They’ll cook more in the sauce later. Between batches, remove any loose pieces of browned bits so they don’t burn while cooking the remaining meatballs. Transfer browned meatballs to a large bowl.
Carefully wipe out pan with paper towels to remove any browned bits. Set pan over medium heat and add three tablespoons fresh, unsalted butter. When butter begins to foam, add mushrooms and sauté a few minutes. Season with some salt and pepper. Sprinkle three tablespoons flour over mushrooms. Stir, and cook, until flour begins to turn a light brown color, about 2 minutes. Slowly add stock and whisk or stir to remove any lumps. Let sauce come to a low boil and keep stirring; the sauce will eventually smooth out. Stir in mustard and soy sauce. Remove pan from heat and stir in sour cream. Taste sauce and add more salt or pepper as needed. Add meatballs back to pan and place pan over medium-low heat; warm meatballs gently, a few minutes. Serve with cooked noodles or mashed potatoes and garnish with fresh chopped herbs. Or, serve on toasted bread and top with provolone or mozzarella and broil a few minutes on high.