Dish #2: Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)

Swedish food was definitely something I wanted to make sure to include on this foodie journey. My Great-Great-Grandfather, Charles Strom, was born in Sweden in 1880, so it is quite literally in my blood. My husband’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Sven Lundberg, was also born in Sweden in 1857, so you see why we would be interested in exploring the culture. (thanks, Ancestry.com!)

Most cultures have some sort of take on the meatball. Swedish meatballs became very popular in the US when Scandinavians settled here and brought their delicious recipes with them.  The Swedish meatball itself is thought to have been brought to Sweden by King Charles XII after his exile in Istanbul.

In my research, I’ve discovered that there are many ways to make these meatballs. Breadcrumbs, soaked bread. All beef, a mix of beef, pork and sometimes veal. Just salt and pepper, a variety of spices. Mostly it is served with potatoes and cream sauce with Lingonberries, but sometimes it is served with egg noodles. The point is, it seems to be more of a method as opposed to a fast and hard recipe. After reading up many different takes, I went ahead and just made up my own recipe and I have to say that it was delicious!

First, my Lingonberry Tale: It is hard to find Lingonberries in SoCal. It is easier to find Lingonberry preserves, but still not easy and I didn’t feel like driving 16 miles down the 405 to the closest IKEA. I found them at Ralph’s near my work. I thought to myself, “Great! I’ll pick them up after I get back from my trip!” I went today and they were gone. Moral of the story: If you see them, pick them up! I ended up using cranberries because all the websites I looked at say that is the next closest match.

Swedish Meatballs with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Meatballs
1 pound each ground beef and ground pork
2 pieces white bread
milk
half a yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon All-Spice
Flour (for dredging)

Gravy
6T butter
6T flour
1 10.5oz can beef broth
milk

In a bowl, break up the bread in a bowl and put just enough milk for the bread to soak up. It shouldn’t take much. In the same bowl, add the meats. Mix well. Add in onions and garlic. You can chop and dice if you want, but I just ran them across a grater because I don’t like big chunks of onion. It made for a nice texture in the meatball. Add in the egg, salt and pepper to taste (just a heavy pinch or two), and All-Spice. Use your hands and mix it all together.

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Form the balls. You can make them big or small, just make sure they are all roughly the same size. Dredge in flour.

Melt butter over medium-high heat and put the meatballs in the skillet. Let them cook for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Don’t crowd the pan. I had to do mine in two batches.

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The dusting of flour gives it a nice crunch on the outside. I love the texture!

The dusting of flour gives it a nice crunch on the outside. I love the texture!

After the balls are done, set them aside. Use the same skillet to make the gravy. I had to wipe mine out a bit and add fresh butter because the butter started to burn. Mix together the butter and flour until it gets clumpy like wet sand. Add the beef broth slowly, stirring with each addition. Add enough milk to get the consistency of a sauce. Keep stirring until it is all incorporated.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a side of lingonberry perserves. A bite of the meatball with a little of the berry is really quite tasty.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

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