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How does this recipe sound for Swedish Meatballs?

I've decided to make Swedish Meatballs to bring to a small dinner party this weekend. Other guests think it's a great idea, but it's a dish I've never really made from scratch before.

After reading several cookbooks and googling up the proverbial ying yang, I came across this recipe which sounds good to me. I particularly like the cream gravy because it doesn't have sour cream in it. Sour cream is very popular in many sauces, it's just not something I really like or want to use.

So Swedish Meatball experts, what do you think of this recipe? Would you make any changes or suggestions? Much obliged.

Swedish Meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:
½ lb ground beef
½ lb ground pork
½ cup finely ground bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
½ cup warmed milk
3 tablespoons shallots, finely diced
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
2. Combine beef and pork in a medium bowl. Soak the bread crumbs in warm milk until softened and then add to the meat mixture, gently mixing ingredients together.
3. Mix in the remaining ingredients to the meat mixture. Using a very small cookie scoop, form into small balls and place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned.
5. When done, put into serving bowl and cover with the cream gravy. Serve with egg noodles or boiled new potatoes and lingonberry jam.

Swedish Meatball Cream Gravy
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm milk
3 cups beef broth
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk, cooking the flour for 2-3 minutes.
2. Slow whisk in the warm milk, then the broth and bring to a slow boil until thickened. If the boil is too lively, turn down the heat and slowly simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

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  1. Bread crumbs but not "seasoned" bread crumbs
    Egg yolks, not whole eggs
    Add about 1/8 tsp nutmeg

    1. I'd add some cream to that gravy and keep thinking there should be a little dill somewhere. Yes or no?

      2 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        I hope others will chime in about seasonings. Thanks Todao for your thoughts. Escondido, I too have been thinking about adding cream instead of/in addition to the sauce to make it thicker and richer. I'm also thinking about gently sweating the shallots in a little oil first to make them tender.

        Still open to suggestions.

        1. re: TrishUntrapped

          I would definitely sweat the shallots. My mother used to make Swedish meatballs, and they were great except for the crunchy pieces of onion.

          And my mother used nutmeg, not allspice. I think nutmeg had a lot to do with why we liked them so much. It was the only thing any of us had ever heard of that wasn't sweet, but had nutmeg in it.

      2. What makes a meatball Swedish are: finely ground beef & pork, bread soaked in milk, and allspice, along with their small size. I wouldn't use seasoned breadcrumbs and you can use fresh breadcrumbs. My mom always just tore a piece of bread into pieces, poured milk over it, and used that. Onion, not shallot, is more typical. The sauce sounds right, but add a pinch of allspice. I'd skip the nutmeg in either recommended by another poster.

        A traditional Swedish meatball mix is moister than many Americans are used to. My mom learned her meatballs from my grandmother, who was born & raised in Sweden.

        After years of fussing with finding just the right texture for the meatballs and laboring over the sauce, a Swedish pal and I ran short of time one Christmas and resorted to frozen meatballs from Ikea and their sauce packets. We've used those ever since to rave reviews.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nami54

          Swedish on Mom's side, here. I still make the meatballs for holidays and have an easy and delicious old recipe, very moist like your mom's, except I also bake them now, like the above recipe, after a good overnight chill. Nobody can tell the difference and none of them make meatballs because they remember the time and effort. Sneaky me. This approach is very do-able and less fat than the tedious and messy frying. My great grandmother would be appalled.

        2. Old-fashioned Swedish meatballs are made with 1/3 beef, pork, and veal each.

          1. My mother's Swedish meatballs were always made with nutmeg, not allspice. Raw, finely grated onion was added to the meat mixture and she used an electric mixer to blend equal parts of lean beef, veal and pork. She also used fresh white bread, not crumbs and not seasoned torn into pieces.

            I've made them in a skillet, as she did, cooking to brown and not in the oven. But next time I make them it will be in the oven because of the time they take in a skillet. I like the idea of not having to add the extra "fats" (olive oil or whatever to fry them in) and being able to drain off the fat when they are done baking!

            1. So I made the meatballs this afternoon and we enjoyed them at the dinner party. I followed the recipe I posted above, except:

              1. I sauteed the shallots in a little oil. I would do this again as it made the shallots tender. But if I make these again I would also consider using onion instead which is more traditional.

              2. For the breadcrumbs I used a portion of a leftover baguette soaked in milk. It worked well, the meatballs had a nice soft texture.

              3. I used two egg yolks instead of two eggs. Again no problems there.

              4. I used just the allspice. Here I would be willing to change a bit. I found the flavor a bit bland, a little underseasoned. I know these aren't supposed to be "spicy" per se, but I think a little nutmeg or a little more allspice wouldn't hurt. The salt and pepper amounts seemed right to me.

              5. For the cream gravy I used half milk and half heavy cream to make it velvety and it worked. I also would have been happy with just milk. Either way. I also added some salt and pepper to the gravy.

              People liked the meatballs. They went over well. I was ok with them. Not my favorite dish, but I am VERY happy they came out well. So thank you everyone for your input and comments. Very appreciated.

              1. I just made this for dinner last night....i sauteed the onion until it was translucent then added to the beef/pork mix. I then added plain bread crumbs, 2 whole eggs (maybe I'll try just the yolks next time), nutmeg, little cinnamon and cayenne pepper (just a pinch)and milk. I let the mixture sit in the fridge for several hours then rolled them up and baked for 20 min. I thought my gravy was a bit bland. I made a basic roux and used heavy cream, beef broth, salt and pepper. I also am not a real fan of sour cream but I wonder if it would make the gravy more flavorful??

                1. Not sure of her exact recipe, but my 100% Norwegian mother and grandmother used cardamom in their meatballs. They may have also used nutmeg and/or allspice, but I'm sure of the cardamom. Also, I'm sure they used onion rather than shallots. I doubt they ever had a shallot in their kitchen. That said, I always topped them with ketchup. If Mom served them today, I would still use ketchup.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: grampart

                    I love them with Lingonberry jam! And boiled egg noodles.

                    1. re: grampart

                      My Scandinavian grandmother used cardamom too, as did my mother. Onions, not shallots, and a beef gravy with a bit of cream in it.

                      No ketchup here. :)

                    2. I've never made them, but why am I thinking gingersnaps is an ingredient?

                      7 Replies
                        1. re: grampart

                          I know that, that I do make. I'm told it's not necessarily a German tradition to use them, but I do so myself.

                          However I'm pretty sure I've heard gingersnaps mentioned with the meatballs too. Again, not in every recipe but in some. Sounds good to me!

                          1. re: coll

                            Gingersnaps? No. Not in swedish meatballs.
                            Swedish-american person here. One side of my family is all swedish. We lived in the Swedish neighborhood in Chicago. My Aunt made meatballs and was an excellent cook. Her mother and 4 sisters emigrated from Sweden to the midwest in 1880s.

                            Our family's meatballs do not contain gingersnaps or shallots. I don't know anyone who put these ingredients in. They would probably be quite good in yours but they are not swedish, if that is important.

                            Meatballs are browned in the oven and are not served with cream (or other) gravy. Many people do this but it is not a Swedish custom, if that matters. A dill sauce on the side might be good and yes-ketchup was the choice of my Swedish Uncles. Mostly they were browned and crispy outside, we had them with potatoes dressed with butter and dill and red cabbage and cold cucumber salad.
                            best of luck

                            1. re: kariin

                              It's sort of important, so maybe I'll rename them German meatballs. If I make them and they are good, I'll trademark it ;-)

                              1. re: kariin

                                Swedish meatballs in Sweden (köttbullar) are nearly always served with a sauce.

                                I'm not an expert on Swedish cuisine, but I did live in Stockholm for several years, I speak Swedish, and I have several Swedish language cookbooks and it is pretty typical to serve meatballs in a brown sauce that uses cream (grädd).

                                In Sweden, they are traditionally accompanied by lingonberries, pickles, and potatoes (boiled or mashed)

                                1. re: stockholm28

                                  Thanks, Stockholm. that's good, updated information. Do you think it was that common in the late 1880s? I often wonder if the foods brought by our foremothers is the food they cooked and ate at the time they came to this country, taught to their children who did not want to change what Mother and Grandmother cooked.
                                  Kind of frozen in time - things change back in the old country but we want to stay connected to that 'taste of the past'. What do you think?

                                  1. re: kariin

                                    I don't know ... I was curious myself so I did some googling (in Swedish) and found some of the meatball recipes included a sauce made with cream and some did not. However, meatballs are a dish where every family has their own traditional recipe (it isn't unusual for a Swede to say that their grandmother makes the best meatballs) so I would not be surprised if there are families that serve meatballs without sauce at home or if the sauce is something that was introduced after your family emigrated. It would be interesting to know. I find food history pretty fascinating.

                                    In Sweden, they also sell these packets of sauce mix and I've seen a version of this in Ikea

                                    One of my Swedish friends said that when she went to university in the States, she used to bring little packets of sauce with her because meat with a little sauce tasted like home.

                        2. My Finn grandma often used half pork and half beef. Preferred pork, elk, and venison in equal parts. Usually about 3 pounds of ground meat total. Never recall any veal ever. She would fry a couple onions until translucent with no crunch then cool before add to the raw meat mixture. Would also tear up many pieces of bread and work it into the meat three to six is what recall. Added two to four raw eggs depending on size sometimes beat in a bit of milk. Then went in Worcestershire sauce and seasonings including salt and pepper. Added small amounts of strong: allspice, nutmeg, and sometimes ginger. Sometimes a few shakes of seasoned salt. Nearly never measured and rarely wrote recipes down. Mixed meat lightly by hand. Possibly add more bread if seemed too wet. Would let 'rest' in fridge. Made small meat balls by hand with spoon or fork directly into hot fry pan. Often used multiple cast iron fry pans at the same time. Would fry many batches of balls. Then save pan drippings. Then grease with butter again to fry up more not crowding pan rolling around to brown all sides. Keeping all batches warm piling in a low-heat oven. Very labor intensive, but tasty results. Seems too many small batches of meat balls for a small kid to count all.

                          Gravy started batch by batch with adding to a hot well-browned pan a thin liquid to scrape, boil, then save on the side. Happened in many stages. Sometimes deglazed pan with small amount of wine, but mostly used water to clean pan after each batch. Then re-greased and buttered to fry the next batch totally all brown. After made all meat in many batches would brown bacon and / or a seasoned pork sausage in the same fry pan then remove cooked meat, cool, and chop fine. Cleaned pan one last time being sure to boil with a liquid then scrape loose all the brown bits. Then bring back all the stages of liquid add to combine all in one pan on medium heat. Would add a canned soup broth (or bullion made strong with water). Then whipping cream, heavy cream, or half and half. Sometimes milk. Often would add 16oz sour cream. Sometimes added buttermilk. Made sure had seasoning "right" with a taste test and slight additions. Then would thicken with flour and water (sometimes a corn starch slurry) bringing to a complete boil making sure thick. Would add round two of thickener then boil if need be. Then added cooked bits of meat such as bacon and / or sausage back into to the gravy for flavor with texture. Next added back into the gravy all the pre-browned cooked meat balls. Often was served over flat egg noodles. Sometimes with or on mashed potatoes. With commonly a vegetable, fruit, side green salad, fresh cranberry sauce as with every meal, and a tasty small desert. Her meals were many courses and amazing. She was a nurse for 50 years and lived to be 97. Her mom from Finland lived until 93 quit taking meds when missed husband or would have lived longer - my great grandmother cooked over a wood-fired stove so her house was always very hot.

                          While this recipe is most similar to what recall being our Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Kottbullar) when make a triple batch: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/swedish-... NOTE: baking is a much easier way to make meat balls, while may have to add more broth to get the gravy to have the desired strong meat taste. Sausage bits and even optional bacon bits added into gravy helps make it have extra special meat flavor to combine well in the creamy sauce.

                          The above mix is most like hers. While this cooking technique is more of what I recall: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/swed...

                          Chow has a decent Swedish recipe to get further ideas from at:
                          http://www.chow.com/recipes/28380-swe... if made these would substitute pork for veal.

                          A recipe is just a guide - always use the best and freshest in-season individual ingredients available.