Homemade Swedish Meatballs

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As part of a New Year’s resolution, I’m cooking a dish from each country around the world. Check out my progress here

To embrace my current obsession with Swedish cuisine and culture, I decided to make Swedish meatballs (albeit a stereotypical choice.. but they are beloved).

Meatballs are a popular dish all around the world and each country seems to have their own spin on them. In Sweden, these meatballs or köttbullar are small and served with a thick gravy, ligonberry preserves and pickled cucumber.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Of course, there are variations in this recipe across Sweden – ranging from the meat mixture used or the addition of grated onion. I even read that in southern Sweden the ground meat would have more fat whereas farther north there would be less pork added. The most important addition though are the breadcrumbs, which give the meatballs their soft consistency.

I should note that I’ve also wanted to try meatballs from IKEA / other food there since I’ve heard it’s good, but that won’t be happening anytime soon… It’s funny that just around the time I was preparing to make Swedish meatballs this whole horsemeat scandal blew up and IKEA had to recall this dish from their menu… Such a funny world we live in.

If you ever get the chance, check out Scandinavian cooking show where host Tina Nordström prepares this dish in Stockholm!

I love watching international cooking shows, even ones geared toward American audiences. I think this one is very well done and my dad actually first introudced it to me. Also, in this episode you get a good introduction to the city of Stockholm and it’s history, which I found very interesting.

But, I chose to use Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe, which he adapted from his grandmother Helga (with a tweak from Nordström’s recipe) . They’re served at Red Rooster and we had them when we were there. They were amazing…  you can’t go wrong with Helga’s meatballs! Let’s hope I do them justice!

And, of course, all Swedish meatballs would be served with ligonberries! Not having ligonberries on hand, I decided to find them in New York to stay true to this recipe.

I went to Nordic Delicacies in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn recently. Got my ligonberries and tried a funky chocolate (a Lohengrin, dark chocolate filled with rum cream). I even saw Swedish meatball mix – just add egg and your meat… 

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Nordic Delicacies Bay Ridge

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Lingonberries

I should just say these meatballs were amazing, so tender from the mixture of meats added. The sauce was incredible as well – at first I didn’t add the ligonberries as Marcus’s recipe suggests, but with the meatball drippings and pickle juice it does need this sweetness. Once I added a little of the ligonberries, the sauce was perfectly balanced! The best Swedish meatball recipe out there!

Swedish Meatballs

(adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe and Tina Nordström’s recipe)

For the meatballs:

3 slices white bread

½ cup milk

1 egg

2 tbsp olive oil

½ medium red onion, finely chopped

1/3 pound ground chuck or sirloin

½ pound ground veal

½ pound ground pork

2 tbsp honey (optional)

3 tbsp unsalted butter

Mix the egg and the milk in a bowl. Cut off the crust of the bread and place in the bowl  until the bread soaks up the liquid. Set aside.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes, until softened. Remove from heat.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Add the beef, veal, pork, and onion to the bread-milk mixture. Mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a golf ball, placing them on a plate lightly moistened with water. You should have about 24 meatballs.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

For the sauce

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup lingonberry preserves

2 tbsp pickle juice

Return the skillet to the heat, whisk in the stock, cream, preserves and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about five minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Chef Samuelsson serves his meatballs with lingonberry preserves and quick pickled cucumbers. I chose to go with ligonberries and mashed potatoes! Smaklig måltid!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
 
Ingredients
  • 3 slices white bread
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • ⅓ pound ground chuck or sirloin
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup lingonberry preserves
  • 2 tbsp pickle juice
Instructions
  1. Mix the egg and the milk in a bowl. Cut off the crust of the bread and place in the bowl  until the bread soaks up the liquid. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes, until softened. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the beef, veal, pork, and onion to the bread-milk mixture. Mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a golf ball, placing them on a plate lightly moistened with water. You should have about 24 meatballs.
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
  6. Return the skillet to the heat, whisk in the stock, cream, preserves and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about five minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through.
 

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