Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs

These Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs are deliciously creamy and cosy, best served with a generous helping of mash and a mound of greens.

Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs in a bowl

The most important ingredient in these meatballs is the addition of pork crackling. I’m sure that I read somewhere that this is how a famous chef makes his meatballs taste so good but I can’t find any residual reference of that so I might have just made it up. Nevertheless it adds texture, flavour and fat to these meatballs which are wonderfully succulent, meaty, fresh with lemon and bright with fennel. The inclusion of the crackling also eschews the need for any breadcrumbs so you have gluten-free meatballs without really trying. You simply must save some crisp crackling for sprinkling over the top as well for added umami crunch.

For this recipe you can go the long route and make your own crackling, as the method suggests below. However, if you want a bit of a shortcut in the recipe then feel free to buy the pork crackling in. Make sure it’s the really good stuff though and check the ingredients to make sure there’s no gluten involved.

I ummed and ahhed over how to serve my meatballs; in a sauce not in a sauce. Then once I had decided on that yes, a sauce was absolutely necessary, I opted for the creamy delights of a Swedish meatball sauce. It was probably inspired by our trip to Ikea at the weekend where you can’t help but be deluged with images of Swedish meatballs as you are wandering, rather painfully, around the labyrinthine warehouse. Inevitably I only went to buy candles and napkins and I think we ended up in this other dimension for about two or three hours. Nothing like wasting your weekend away.

These Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs are deliciously creamy and cosy, best served with a generous helping of mash and a mound of greens.

Swedish Meatballs are pure comfort food. A simple gravy, imbued with the intense flavour of good stock, a bit of redcurrant (or cranberry) jelly for sweetness and then finished off with the creamy tang of crème fraiche. The gravy compliments the unctuous meatballs perfectly. They have so much flavour packed in that I just wanted the gravy to nest the meatballs not create a swimming pool for them, so don’t expect more than a couple of spoonfuls of sauce per serving.

These meatballs are rich so I found that just to accompany them with a bowl of steamed greens and carrots was plenty but by all means I can only imagine the possibilities if you would like to serve these with a prodigious mound of mashed potato.

Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs in a bowl

Today this recipe seems a perfect fit for the wintry weather we are experiencing and I can think of nothing better than sitting down cosily later with a bowl of hot creamy meatballs whilst gazing upon the blanket of snow currently covering North London.

Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs

These Pork Crackling, Lemon and Fennel Swedish Meatballs are deliciously creamy and cosy, best served with a generous helping of mash and a mound of greens.
Prep Time2 d 20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time2 d 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Swedish
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 712kcal

Ingredients

Homemade Pork Crackling

  • 300 g pork skin or organic free range pork scratchings

Meatballs

  • 60 g ground almonds or almond pulp from making homemade almond milk
  • 60 ml milk or water or veg stock
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 500 g pork mince
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed
  • Zest ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 25 g parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 450 ml chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon redcurrant jelly or cranberry jelly
  • 150 ml crème fraiche

Instructions

Homemade Pork Crackling

  • Day 1:
  • If you are making your own pork crackling then the day before you want to eat your meatballs, prepare your pork skin by rubbing all over with plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Place the skin in a wide saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil then put the lid on a leave to simmer for about an hour and a half.
  • Remove the pork skin from the water and pat dry. Leave to cool before refrigerating overnight to completely chill.
  • Day 2:
  • Slice the pork skin into strips. Then heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan and when hot, place the pork skin into it. As the skin turns into crackling it will spit a lot so clear the sides of anything you don’t want covered in oil and stand back. Fry for about 10 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. Then chop finely. Reserve the fat in the pan for making the meatballs.

Meatballs

  • Mix the ground almonds with the whole milk then cover and refrigerate overnight. If you are using almond pulp then you do not need to do this step.
  • Place the diced onions in a medium saucepan with the butter and cook on a very low heat for about 20 minutes to half an hour until the onions are soft, golden and melting. Leave to chill in the fridge until completely cool.
  • Mix the pork mince in a large bowl with the soaked almonds, caramelised onions, fennel seeds, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, thyme, about two-thirds of the pork crackling and an egg. Season then mix thoroughly with your hands until completely combined.
  • Shape into balls, about 50g each, and heat the pan with either 2 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat or olive oil. When hot, drop your meatballs into the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the meatballs and set aside. Remove most of the fat from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons.
  • Add the sweet rice flour on a low heat, stirring into the fat.
  • Slowly add the stock, whisking into the roux until it’s all combined. Keep whisking as the sauce begins to bubble. Taste for seasoning.
  • Add the redcurrant jelly and whisk through. Then add the crème fraiche and whisk into the sauce so it becomes thinner and smoother. Again, taste for seasoning.
  • Place the meatballs back into the pan and coat thoroughly with the sauce. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until they are piping hot then remove from the heat.
  • Serve the meatballs with the gravy and plenty of parsley and the rest of the pork crackling sprinkled over the top.

Nutrition

Calories: 712kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 1113mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 855IU | Vitamin C: 8.9mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 2.3mg

Barbecue Spare Ribs

These deliciously easy Barbecue Spare Ribs are the ultimate crowd pleaser and they are on constant rotation in our kitchen. The sweet smoky sticky sauce is juicy with tomatoes and full of body. It’s an easy barbecue to sauce to knock up in minutes, then you can pop the ribs into the oven and more or less forget about them for three hours. An absolute favourite.

Barbecue Spare Ribs

Spare Ribs, as we always called them at home, were an absolute childhood favourite of mine and I remember clamouring for them every Saturday night along with Dad’s sweet potato mash. Having had my fair share of American interpretations over the past couple of years, I have been hankering for these very particular Barbecue Spare Ribs from my past.

For some reason I just knew instinctively how to put this dish together. The memory of this dish is so ingrained that I reached for the ingredients automatically in my cupboard even though I have never made them before.

Spare Ribs in Barbecue Sauce

These Barbecue Spare Ribs are how I grew up knowing ribs to taste; sweet, sour and tomatoey. I have added a few bits and pieces that definitely would not have been anywhere near my family’s kitchen in the 1980s, like the liquid hickory smoke simply because it adds a wonderful smokiness which I have also bolstered by the use of chipotle instead of cayenne pepper.

The Kentucky bourbon is another nod to the current trend but I just couldn’t resist adding it in as it really does add a warming depth. Plus, y’know, any excuse.

Barbecue Spare Ribs

I still had some local honey left from our time in Clarksdale, Mississippi so I thought it was fitting that I finish that off, but really any strong honey will do, this is no occasion for delicacy.

The result is like stepping back in time for me, but improved by my recently acquired knowledge of the American influence.  It is a perfect marriage of the hickory smoke and bourbon of the Deep South married to the heat of English mustard and good British pork. The rich tomato sauce provides a loving gravy to the ribs and mopping up the sauce with dirty rice or mashed sweet potato is an absolute treat.

Barbecue Spare Ribs

Barbecue Spare Ribs

This deliciously easy Barbecue Spare Ribs is the ultimate crowd pleaser
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 1485kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 kg pork spare ribs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tins peeled plum tomatoes
  • 4 squirts liquid hickory smoke
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 50 g honey
  • 50 ml cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard powder
  • 30 ml bourbon

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and place the spare ribs in a large roasting dish.
  • In a large saucepan heat up the olive oil, then add the onions and garlic. Cook on a gentle heat until the onions are turning translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes, cutting them up in the saucepan in a sophisticated fashion with a pair of scissors.
  • As you bring the sauce to the boil add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes, then pour the barbecue sauce over the spare ribs. Cover the baking dish loosely with foil and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
  • Remove the foil and turn the heat up to 180°C. Roast for a further hour until the meat can be pulled easily off the bone and the sauce has reduced a little.

Nutrition

Calories: 1485kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 78g | Fat: 119g | Saturated Fat: 38g | Cholesterol: 400mg | Sodium: 416mg | Potassium: 1353mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 579IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 5mg