Swedish meatballs: A Scandinavian classic

Serve with a sharp, fruity sauce: cranberry, lingonberry or even blackberry jam will do

‘I like meatballs with a combination of beef and pork mince’

‘I like meatballs with a combination of beef and pork mince’

 

This Scandinavian classic is rarely made in my house as I’m usually blinkered by the Italian meatballs that are simmered in a herb-heavy tomato sauce. My kids adore meatballs with spaghetti and love to swirl the pasta into the sauce along with the ceremony of grating Parmesan at the table. Someone always bites a chunk from the wedge but I am yet to witness it. Luckily they love this Swedish version too.

I like meatballs with a combination of beef and pork mince. They’re lighter than pure beef but I do like some beef for flavour. These are traditionally served with a sharp fruity sauce. Cranberry, lingonberry or even blackberry jam will do. With fresh dill too, it makes for such a winning and comforting formula.

Initially, it reads quite odd to make a roux and form a white sauce around the meatballs but it’s more of a gravy, and simmering the meatballs in it just amplifies all of those gorgeous flavours. The crème fraîche adds a nice sharpness and enriches it even more. A scattering of fresh dill brings brightness to this comforting gravy. This is ideally served with creamy mashed potato but it is equally good with rice.

This is a great prepare-ahead recipe for the busy nights that roll into one another at this time of year. You can assemble the meatballs, cover them and keep in the fridge until they are ready to be cooked.

This year, more than ever, I’ll be supporting local producers, shops and delis where I can buy ready-made cranberry sauce, Christmas puddings and mince pies. As we are all scaling down our get-togethers this year, there will be many who are cooking Christmas dinner for the first time. Instead of seeing this as daunting, seek out those caterers and cafes that are now supplying ready-made stuffings, gravies and sauces. We can all work together and support one another while enjoying delicious food over the festive season.

SWEDISH MEATBALLS

Serves 6-8

Ingredients
400g pork mince
400g beef mince
80g breadcrumbs
2tbs chopped dill, and extra to serve
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
Salt and black pepper
1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbs olive oil
1tbs butter
2tbs plain flour
600ml stock
150g crème fraîche
Serve with mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce

Method
1
Mix together the minced meat, breadcrumbs, dill, onion, eggs and mustard. Season well with salt and pepper. This can be done in a large bowl, by hand, or in a mixer with a paddle attachment. Once mixed well, use a tablespoon to portion the mix into small meatballs. They can be easily rolled with wet hands.

2 Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs in batches until golden and cooked through. I like them to take on a good dark colour in places, for flavour. Set them aside and keep them warm.

3 Place a tablespoon of butter in the frying pan and melt it over a low heat. Whisk in the flour until it forms a paste, then slowly whisk in the stock until smooth. Bring to a simmer and leave to thicken, then season with salt and a little pepper. Add the crème fraîche and a tablespoon of dill.

4 Pour this gravy over the meatballs and cover with a lid. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes so that all of the flavours can develop.

5 Sprinkle the meatballs with a little dill and serve with mashed potato, green beans and a dollop of cranberry sauce.

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