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MEATBALLS

This is the best Christmas meatballs recipe in the world

Why not embrace your inner Swede and try out our favourite meatballs recipe?

This is the best Christmas meatballs recipe in the world
Different kinds of meatballs. Photo: Robin Haldert/TT

All Swedes have their own family recipe of meatballs (köttbullar) and there is not one universal method of making this traditional comfort food. Feel free to experiment and use a bit more or a bit less of this or that, depending on what you prefer. It's one of the most popular foods on the Christmas julbord dinner.

Summary

Serves: 4

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 30 minutes

Total: 40 minutes

Ingredients

4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs

4 tbsp water or milk

225g (8 oz) pork mince

225g (8 oz) veal or beef mince

2 tbsp grated onion (it is better grated than chopped)

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 or 4 whole allspice, crushed

salt and freshly ground white and black pepper

2 tbsp butter, for frying

500ml (2 cups) beef stock, made with a bouillon cube or similar

2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch), mixed with a little water

1/2 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp double (heavy) or whipping cream


Swedish meatballs are a staple ingredient on the Christmas smorgasbord. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Method

1. Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water or milk. Leave them to absorb the liquid for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the mince, grated onion, egg, allspice and seasoning. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Don't over mix or the meatballs will be heavy.

3. Take a tablespoon of mixture and roll it until it is nice and round. Rinse your hands in cold water if the mixture is too sticky. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture, by which time you should have about 30 meatballs.

4. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat until the butter stops sizzling. Fry half the meatballs, shaking the pan frequently when you first add them. When they are nicely browned, turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep warm.

5. Add another tablespoon of butter and fry the remaining meatballs in the same way as in step four.

6. When the meatballs are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the stock and corn flour mixture. Stir thoroughly and then reheat. Simmer for five minutes then add the soy sauce, seasoning and cream. Heat for another couple of minutes, stirring continuously.

7. Serve the meatballs with lingonberries or lingonberry jam, mashed potatoes, pressed cucumber and a light coating of the sauce. Pour the rest of the cream sauce into a jug for people to help themselves to if they want more.

Tips

– Take your time rolling the meat into balls between the palms of your hand, otherwise they will go out of shape quickly when you fry them.

– Fry the meatballs in two batches, because if you fry too many at once they will steam rather than brown.

– If you are making very large quantities for a party, make the meatballs in advance and then reheat them in an oven.

-If you prefer a creamier sauce, use 200ml (3/4 cup) of single cream instead of the cream below and reduce the amount of beef stock to 300ml (1 1/4 cups).

This recipe was originally published on food writer John Duxbury's Swedish Food website

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FOOD & DRINK

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Kanelbulle

The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

Chokladboll

A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Prinsesstårta

The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.

Budapestbakelse

Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/imagebank.sweden.se

Biskvi

Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.

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