Swedish Meatballs. Growing up, we enjoyed them every Christmas Eve as part of our annual holiday h’ordeuvres spread. I’m slowly recreating these recipes one by one. Some from memory and some that mom passed down to me. Sunday I pulled out this recipe card and took a stroll down memory lane.
I made some minor adjustments to the recipe as I know when she wrote this out for me I was a twenty-something with very limited cooking experience. She had a way of making everything seem possible. For as long as mom was physically able, there was no adventure she wouldn’t be game for. The only thing holding her back was money, but even then we’d plan some pretty elaborate get-a-ways or businesses we’d like to start or even how we would redecorate the house. We’d plan it all out on paper, tear pictures from magazines, and enjoy every little detail along the way. She had a way of making everything seem possible.
Mom’s recipe called for Red Currant Jelly, which she also used in her Cocktail Franks. One change I made was to include Lingonberry jelly. It’s not as common as red currant but as I shopped for this dish there it was on my market shelf. I had to try it. It’s very much like red currant jelly :)
I also increased the recipe to use two pounds of ground meat. I chose a blend of beef and pork. There are two things that make Swedish Meatballs so special. First are the meatballs which are soft and feature the flavors of nutmeg and cardamom (or allspice). Second is the sauce that begins with pan drippings from the browned meatballs and builds from there, eventually finishing with sour cream and jelly. The sauce is rich with flavor yet not heavy. Jelly imparts a slightly sweet finish which leaves you wanting to lick your bowl. A benefit of cooking at home.
This recipe makes about 80 meatballs and you’ll be very glad of that. They are fabulous served as an appetizer as we will do for our holiday spread. They also made a wonderful meal served on top of egg noodles, although rice or even mashed potatoes would be perfect. If you’ve never made Swedish Meatballs before you’re in luck, with this recipe everything is possible.
For the meatballs…
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 large onion grated
- 4 slices of bread chopped into crumbs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom or allspice
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 Tbl. butter
For the sauce…
- 2 Tbl. pan drippings
- 4 Tbl. butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 Tbl. Lingonberry or red currant jelly.
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley to garnish
For the meatballs…
- In a medium bowl combine bread crumbs and milk and allow to sit until milk is absorbed. Add remaining ingredients (except butter) and blend by hand until ingredients are well combined.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon form meatballs; place on baking sheet. We made approx. 80 meatballs.
- Melt 2 Tbl. butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat (do not allow butter to burn, adjust heat accordingly throughout browning process). Working in batches brown meatballs on all sides. Meatballs will be tender, work gently when turning. Do not cook meatballs all the way through, once browned remove back to parchment lined baking sheet.
For the sauce…
- Once all meatballs have been browned, pour off all but 2 Tbl. of pan drippings. Add 4 Tbl. butter and melt over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until well blended making a roux. Slowly whisk in the beef broth, stirring constantly; scrapping bits off bottom of pan. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil then reduce the heat to low.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce. We were able to fit half the meatballs in each batch. Cook meatballs covered over low heat until cooked through about 8-10 minutes. Remove meatballs to a bowl. Pour sauce through a fine mesh strainer then return to the pot. Add in sour cream and jelly and whisk over medium heat until well blended and heated through. Do not boil sauce.
- To serve, spoon meatballs over noodles or rice. Ladle sauce over top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.