15 April 2010

Detectives Around the World: Cork O'Connor's Minnesota

Welcome back to Detectives Around the World, a theme week brought to us by Jen of Jen's Book Thoughts. Be sure to check out the other reviews and essays and recipes that are being shared all week. And be sure to join in the scavenger hunt.

On Tuesday, I gave you an overview of Cork O'Connor and a short review of Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger. Today I want to give you a feel for northern Minnesota. Cork O'Connor's town of Aurora is not far from the Boundary Waters, the tip of Lake Superior, and the Superior National Forest--all three of which play a part in Krueger's series.

The photo at the top the left was taken in the Boundary Waters (USFS, in the public domain), which is a popular area for canoeists. The photo at the top right is of the shores of Lake Superior (Douglas Adams, in the public domain). Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and is deep and cold. The photo on the bottom is of a lake in the Chippewa National Forest (public domain). From these photos (click on them for full size), you might be getting a clear idea of why Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The Upper Midwest was a destination for Scandinavian immigrants, and their foods and traditions have made a strong mark in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Although Cork O'Connor is not Norwegian, it is completely appropriate to share a Norwegian recipe to represent his region of the United States. (For some Ojibwe recipes in honor of his American Indian ancestry, try the food page of Native American online.)

To keep with the literary theme, the following recipe comes from Carrie Young, the author of two wonderful essay collections about the Norwegian immigration experience in the early 1900s. The recipe appeared in a 1983 article Young wrote for Gourmet magazine.

Kjottboller (Norwegian Meatballs)

Serves 4
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pound lean ground pork
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 tablespoon light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
In a bowl combine the beef, pork, egg, cream, 1½ teaspoons of the salt, 1½ teaspoons of the sugar, the nutmeg and pepper. Form the mixture into balls.

In a heavy skillet just large enough to hold the meatballs in one layer, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat and add the meatballs. Cook over moderately low heat, turning them, for 20 to 30 minutes or until brown and crusty. Transfer, using a slotted spoon, to a bowl.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat remaining in the skillet (or add the remaining butter to make 3 tablespoons). Add the flour, and cook the roux over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up the brown bits clinging to the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the water in a stream, stirring constantly, bring the sauce to a boil, stirring, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the remaining salt and sugar, add the meatballs, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through. Transfer all to a heated tureen and serve with lefser (potato pancakes).

Hope you enjoyed this look into Sheriff O'Connor's world. Come back on Saturday for another recipe.


Tea 4/15/10, 7:40 AM  

Oh, the area is gorgeous. Now, I need to look at that yummy recipe. Thanx

Sandy Nawrot 4/15/10, 8:45 AM  

My sister has lived in Minnesota for probably 20 years, so she considers herself a native at this point. (She even talks like a native!) Whenever I've visited, we've gone up into the nature of northern Minnesota, and it is so unspoiled and beautiful! Great post!

Word Lily 4/15/10, 9:08 AM  

Sounds pretty similar to recipes I've seen for Swedish Meatballs. I've never been to northern Minnesota, but I've wanted to visit that region for a long time now. Hm, now there's a vacation idea ...

Anonymous,  4/15/10, 9:14 AM  

Beth, the recipe looks really tasty and I love potato pancakes. My mom used to make them out of leftover mashed potatoes.

Gorgeous pictures. I know that I have and also will be imagining the setting as I read the Cork O'Connor books.

Naomi Johnson 4/15/10, 9:23 AM  

So beautiful! There is so much of America I haven't seen. Sometimes I think Americans need a crash course or rather, a crash tour around our own country, to help us appreciate what a splendid country we have and how fascinating and unique our planet is.

Chris 4/15/10, 9:49 AM  

Beautiful. I've enjoyed the time I've spent in Minnesota, but haven't spent nearly enough. I really want to get up into the north and into the Boundary Waters.

Julie P. 4/15/10, 9:58 AM  

Great job on featuring the setting. Love the pictures and the recipes -- two of your favorite hobbies right? Photography and cooking!

bermudaonion 4/15/10, 10:00 AM  

Those photos are gorgeous - makes me want to visit Minnesota - in the summer. I'm not much for cold weather.

bookmagic 4/15/10, 10:35 AM  

I think I would love to live in Minnesota. It is so beautiful. On reason I like the Lucas Davenport series is b/c of this setting.

Margot 4/15/10, 11:14 AM  

Beautiful part of the country. I like that you featured the area after featuring the book. It makes a nice tie-in. Love the recipe too. Thanks.

Jen Forbus 4/15/10, 7:42 PM  

Those pictures are so beautiful and serene. The recipe made my dinner look so inadequate. Have you ever made these meatballs?

Thank you so much for being a part of "Detectives Around the World." I mentioned earlier this week that Krueger's series really needs some attention outside the immediate crime fiction community and you've given it just that this week. So wonderful!

Jen Forbus 4/15/10, 7:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
L.J. Sellers 4/15/10, 9:53 PM  

Loved the photos and the recipe. This has been a fun week with Detectives Around the World.

PeachyTO 4/15/10, 11:25 PM  

Mmm, those meatballs sound delicious. I'm definitely going to try them out.

Beautiful post! ;-)

Beth Hoffman 4/16/10, 10:02 AM  

Oh, to hike through the areas in those stunning photographs! And then return to make the Norwegian meatballs ... that would be a perfect day!

Kelly 4/16/10, 1:56 PM  

I can't wait to make these meatballs for my next book club meeting.

Dorte H 4/17/10, 11:17 AM  

What a great idea to add this kjöttbullar recipe :D

It is also a traditional, Danish course, but we call them frikadeller.

Ana S. 4/18/10, 10:01 AM  

Those photos are so gorgeous! And I have no idea about the Scandinavian influence. I don't actually know much about the cultural differences between different US states, but I love how thanks to you guys I keep learning.

Carole 7/18/12, 4:06 PM  

thanks for linking this in to Food on Friday.
Hope you are having a nice week.

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