Before I cook these Swedish meatballs, I gently press a little indentation in the top of each one, to make a little holder for some of the fruit sauce. After the Swedish meatballs are cooked, I roll them lightly in the “gravy” (as my Minnesota Swedish neighbors called it), then spoon a little cranberry sauce in the indentations. The trick with this Swedish meatballs recipe is to have everything ready and waiting for the meatballs the moment they come out of the oven. I prefer cranberry sauce, but lingonberry jam is classic and any tart jelly or jam would be good. I like the hint of allspice in meatballs. That spice isn’t used much anymore, and it should be. Here, the Swedish meatballs are a first course, but they would make a good main course, too.–Cindy Pawlcyn
LC Face Your Meatball Fears Note
Time to banish forever that fear-instilling nightmare some of us have on a recurring basis—you know, the one in which you’re about to sit down to a plate of dry, tasteless meatballs. (Uh, you have that nightmare, too, right?) We promise, there will be no nightmares with this Swedish meatballs recipe. The only thing left to feel uneasy about is potentially running out of the accompanying gravy—and overcoming that is as simple as doubling the recipe. If your nightmare is more along the lines of someone playing whack-a-mole with your Swedish meatballs, perhaps you’re confusing your dreams with one of the original Swedish chef skits from The Muppets.
Swedish Meatballs Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 50 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Serves 12 as an appetizer
- For the Swedish meatballs
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (1/2 to 1 ounce) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
- 2/3 pound ground beef
- 2/3 pound ground veal
- 2/3 pound ground pork
- 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 large egg yolks, or 1 large whole egg
- Olive oil, for the baking sheet
- Dill leaves, chopped, for garnish
- For the gravy
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- 1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill leaves
- For the cranberry sauce
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, preferably organic
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more if needed
- 1/4 cup water, plus more if needed
- Make the Swedish meatballs
- 1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. If the pan seems too dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- 2. In a big bowl, combine the beef, pork, veal, bread crumbs, salt, a few grinds of pepper, nutmeg, allspice, milk, and egg yolks and gently mix together with your hands until the ingredients are evenly distributed. When the onion is cool, work it into the meat mixture.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with olive oil.
- 4. In a small skillet, sauté a smidgen of the meat mixture and then taste and adjust the seasoning of the mixture accordingly. When you’re happy with the flavor, form the meat mixture into balls 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. You should get about 36 meatballs. Press a little indentation in the top of most or all the meatballs to form a groove to hold the cranberry sauce later.
- 5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned all the way around but still tender and pink on the inside.
- Make the gravy
- 6. [Editor’s Note: If you like gravy, you may wish to double this recipe.] While the meatballs are in the oven, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and then stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and the color of caramel, 3 to 5 minutes.
- 7. Still whisking or stirring constantly, gradually pour in the stock in a slow, steady stream and bring to a boil. Add the cream, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the gravy is a nice, thick consistency. Remove from the heat, stir in the dill, and set the sauce aside until you’re ready to serve the meatballs.
- Make the cranberry sauce
- 8. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer the cranberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and water, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until every cranberry has burst. Take a taste and, if desired, add more sugar. If the mixture seems dry, add more water. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Serve the Swedish meatballs
- 9. Bring the gravy back to a gentle simmer. Arrange the meatballs in a dish or deep-sided serving platter and pour some of the sauce over and around the meatballs. Top some of the meatballs with a bit of cranberry sauce (in the little indentation), leaving some without for variety. Sprinkle with the dill. Serve any remaining gravy and cranberry sauce on the side.
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