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.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
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
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.
– 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