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Meatballs

Google ‘Swedish meatballs’ and you’ll get a wide variety of images. Meatballs with sauce, without sauce, with potatoes, with spaghetti… And – perhaps surprisingly to the outsider – quite often with lingonberry jam.

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Photo: Per-Erik Berglund/imagebank.sweden.se

What’s your favourite meatball recipe?

Swedish meatballs, or köttbullar, must be prepared, above all, with love. This is why ‘Mom’s meatballs’ are a widespread concept in Sweden, and there are many different favourite recipes. Some people feel there should be grated onion in the meatball mixture itself, while others prefer to dice the onion and fry it separately. Some people feel that their meatballs should be served with thick brown gravy, while others prefer it with a thin meat juice. As part of a smorgasbord buffet, it is better to skip the gravy altogether.

In southern Sweden many people prefer their ground meat with a little more fat, but the further north you go, the less pork you will find in the meatball mixture. However, bread or rusk crumbs allowed to swell in milk are as important as the lingonberries on the side. They give Swedish meatballs their special soft consistency.

Ingredients

(4–6 servings)

500 g (18 oz) ground (minced) beef/pork mixture
250 ml (1¼ cup) milk
75 g (¾ cup) white breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 onion
salt, white pepper
ground allspice

Preparation

Finely dice the onion and sauté gently in a little butter without browning. Soak the breadcrumbs in milk. Blend the ground meat, preferably in a food processor, with the onion, egg, milk/breadcrumb mixture and the spices to the proper consistency and taste. Add a little water if the mixture feels too firm. Check the taste by test-frying one meatball. Then shape small meatballs with the aid of two spoons and place on water-rinsed plates. Brown a generous pat of butter in a frying pan, and when it ‘goes quiet’ place the meatballs in the pan and let them brown on all sides. Shake the frying pan often. Serve with potato purée or boiled potatoes and raw stirred lingonberries.

Last updated: 21 October 2013

Carl Jan Granqvist & Lena Katarina Swanberg

Innkeeper Emeritus Carl Jan Granqvist selected the dishes. Journalist and author Lena Katarina Swanberg wrote the texts. Translation: Victor Kayfetz.