For the Meatballs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup of dried breadcrumbs or Panko, unseasoned
2 to 3 tablespoons rendered lard or neutral cooking oil, such as grapeseed or canola, divided use
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 small head fennel, cored and finely chopped
3 large shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
For the Gravy
3 cups chicken or beef broth
1 large bay leaf
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt to taste (approximately 1 teaspoon)
Fresh tarragon leaves
Freshly grated nutmeg
Cranberry, Lingonberry, or Raspberry Jam
For the Meatballs
1. Preheat oven to 225°.
Combine the milk and bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm about 1 tablespoon of the lard or oil. Sauté carrot, fennel, and shallots until soft. Add a few pinches of salt and the garlic. Sauté until you smell the garlic, then remove from the heat, place on a small plate, cool to room temperature, and chill in your refrigerator.
2. Using your (clean) hands or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix the beef, pork, bread/milk mixture, egg yolks, and spices. When the sautéed onion mixture is cool, add this to the mixing bowl and continue mixing until the ingredients are completely incorporated. Keep in mind that the more you mix, the firmer/more dense your meatballs will become.
Roll the meatball mixture into large marble sized rounds (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a cookie sheet while you work. When finished, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set.
3. Heat another tablespoon or two of the lard or oil in a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy bottomed frying pan and begin searing off the meatballs in batches. Fry the meatballs 5 to 8 at a time (this will make it easier to manage your heat and lightly brown each meatball without crowding your pan); fry the remaining meatballs in the same way.
After the meatballs are seared, transfer them into a baking dish (leaving fat in pan) and hold them in a warm oven while you make the gravy.
For the Gravy
1. Over low heat and in the same pan that you used to sear the meatballs, add the flour and whisk it into the remaining fat until it picks up the juices and bits left from the meatballs. Allow the flour to brown slightly, whisking frequently.
Slowly add the beef stock, whisking constantly it until it thickens.
Add the bay leaf and heavy cream to the gravy and whisk, stirring constantly, it until it reaches the desired consistency. It should take about 3 minutes for the gravy to become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. To test, dip a spoon in the gravy and drag your finger across the back of the spoon. If the gravy holds the line from your finger, it’s ready!
Taste the gravy and add salt if desired.
To serve, pour the gravy over the warmed meatballs, garnish with the tarragon leaves and nutmeg and serve with the jam on the side.