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Score a Super Bowl Touchdown with Swedish Meatballs

Let me just come right out and say it.  These Swedish meatballs are the bomb!  Seriously.  They. Are. Awesome.  IKEA had better watch out. I’m just sayin’.

Swedish meatballs are a perennial favorite among the smörgåsbord [1] set, which is why I had to include them in my Meatball [2] Week [3] series.   These plump and moist little nuggets of meat are delicately seasoned with fragrant spices like cardamom, allspice and nutmeg before being bathed in a rich and velvety cream sauce.  As with most traditional ethnic dishes, you’ll find as many different recipes for Swedish meatballs as there are cooks who make them.  I’ve tried many different versions, and I think this one is the best I’ve tasted.

The basic recipe for my meatballs came from Marcus Samuelsson [4], who got it from his Swedish grandma.  When a recipe comes from a famous chef’s grandma, you just know it has to be good.   With ingredients like honey and pickle juice, it’s unlike any I’ve seen before.    I did deviate quite a bit from the original, but that’s just how I roll.  That’s the great thing about recipes like this.  There’s lots of room to improvise.

The meatballs themselves are made with a mixture of beef, pork and veal.  I’ve always been a fan of using veal in meatballs.  I think it gives them a lighter texture and better flavor.

Let’s get started! 

To make the meatballs, you first sauté some finely diced onions in olive oil.  Set them aside to cool while you gather up the rest of the meatball ingredients.

Toss the sautéed onions in with the other ingredients and mix them all up together in a big bowl.   Form as many golf ball sized meatballs as you can get.  I got a ton.  Then, brown them in a skillet.  But, don’t cook them all the way through.

Yes, that is butter that those meatballs are frying in – big, fat, voluptuous butter.  But, it’s okay.  I don’t do this every day.  And, I don’t have an endorsement deal [5] with any big drug companies.

Next, whip up that fabulous Swedish meatball sauce.   You start by making a roux, which is used as a thickening base for all kinds of sauces, gravies, soups and stews.  A roux [6] a mixture of butter and flour that is cooked together until it reaches varying shades of brown, depending on what it’s being used for. Cooking the flour allows it to thicken the sauce without giving it a “raw”, starchy taste.  The roux for this dish should be on the lighter side – sort of like a café au lait color.  Marcus’s grandma’s recipe doesn’t call for a roux.  But, I wanted a sauce with more body, so I made one.

When the roux is ready, add some stock, a little at a time so that it doesn’t sputter up and splash you in the face. Trust me, that is not pleasant!

Then, add some heavy cream, lingonberry preserves and pickle juice.   No, that’s not a typo.  I thought the pickle juice was weird too.  Just do it, though.  You’ll thank me later.

When the sauce starts to bubble,  gently plop the meatballs in.   Then, simmer them in that glorious sauce until they’re cooked through.  Honestly, it took almost all of my self-control not to just slurp that sauce up with a big, fat, giant spoon!

Serve them with more lingonberry preserves and some pickled cucumber slices [7] –  and watch your guests drool.




If you missed the first two Meatball Week installments, you can find them here: