In the past, I haven’t been a huge fan of Swedish meatballs. The only rendition I’d had of them was from a frozen microwavable meal, and certainly left something to be desired. A couple of years ago, while we were on travel with my husband in DC, Andrew and I were looking for something to do. We’d been to the museums, the National Zoo, and all the upscale grocery stores in the “big city” to stock up on provisions to take home with us. I’d noticed that there was an Ikea about 5 minutes from the hotel, and thought that could be a fun activity to spend some time waiting for “Dad” to get out of work.
Andrew was confined to the stroller at the time, but was a trooper as I investigated ever nook and cranny of the store. I loved the bright colors and patterns of all the textiles, the organization options- a place for everything, the clean simple lines of the furniture. Oh yeah, and the Swedish Meatballs! Halfway through our journey Andrew and I stopped at the cafeteria for a bite to eat. We shared an order of the meatballs, with a side of mashed red potatoes and lingonberry jelly. A far, far cry from the dreaded microwave meals! I knew this dish had to be even better made at home as well. Their meatballs are okay, but they’re still frozen, mass-produced, and chock full of fillers.
I Googled recipes and bookmarked a few, but finally decided on Elise’s version after a recommendation from my best friend. They were absolutely delicious. The rich, beefy, creamy sauce en robes the tender bites of the beef/pork mixture. I was always of the school of the beef meatball, but I think this recipe has made me a convert. They literally melt in your mouth, a different texture completely from a beef meatball. The recipe makes a lot of meatballs. I think they’d be delightful for a party as an appetizer instead of the traditional red sauce meatballs. The meatballs and sauce would be fine in a Crock-Pot on low for a few hours. I did change the spice combination in them, as I diddn’t have cardamom, and had no problems. I stock up on Lingonberry jelly (and the drink concentrate too!) when I’m at Ikea, but if you can’t find it then I think boysenberry jam or cranberry jelly would be a good alternative.
For the meatballs:
1 large yellow or white onion, peeled, grated (through a cheese grater)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup milk
4-5 slices of bread, crusts removed, bread cut into pieces
1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons black pepper
For the sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 quart beef stock
3/4 cup sour cream
2 to 4 Tbsp of Lingonberry, cranberry, or boysenberry jelly, more or less to taste (optional)
Sauté the grated onion in the butter over medium-high heat until the onions soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a medium bowl, mix the bread pieces with the milk. Set aside for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread soaks up all the milk. When it does, pulverize the bread in a food processor and pour it into a large bowl.
Add the cooled onions to the bowl of milk and bread. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients—eggs, ground pork, ground beef, salt, nutmeg, allspice, pepper. Using your (clean) hands, mix well for about 2 minutes until the ingredients are well combined. Use a tablespoon to measure out the meat for the meatballs. As you form the meatballs, set each one aside on a sheet pan or plate. You should get 40 to 50 meatballs.
Heat 6 tablespoons of butter for the sauce in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, reduce the heat to medium and add some of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan. Work in batches, browning them slowly on all sides. Be gentle when you turn them so they don’t break apart. Do not cook the meatballs all the way through, only brown them at this stage. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan, setting them aside so you can make the sauce with the remaining pan butter.
Start the sauce. (Check the pan butter to see if it has burned. If the butter tastes burnt, discard the butter and replace with new 6 tablespoons.) Heat the pan butter on medium until hot. Slowly whisk in the flour. Stirring often, let the flour cook until it is the color of coffee-with-cream; this is a classic roux.
As the roux is cooking, heat the beef stock in another pot until it simmers. When the roux has cooked until the color of coffee-with-cream, slowly add the hot beef stock a little at a time. Everything will sputter at first, and the sauce will seize up and solidify. Keep stirring and adding stock slowly, and it will loosen up and become silky.
To finish, remove the meatballs from the sauce. Add the sour cream and mix well. Either add the lingonberry jelly to the sauce or serve it on the side if you like. Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove to serving dish and serve immediately.
Source: adapted from Simply Recipes