Monday, 13 January 2014

Swedish meatballs

Seeing how the end of year- review revealed the Spanish meatballs to be an all-round crowd-pleaser month after month, I thought I'd share this recipe, full of grandmaternal love, with you. I also welcome any explanations as to why, of all the nationalities out there, these are known as Swedish meatballs. I mean, aren't Saab and Volvo and ABBA and H&M enough for that lot? But jajamen (as our Western neighbours would put it), these are such a crucial part of their culinary psyche that these are served everywhere, from Ikeas of the world to Stockholm's Grand Hotel's smörgåsbord.  Even at Christmas these are their go-to treat. These and hotdogs that they love so jätte much. 

These seem to evoke nostalgia everywhere I go. Back in West Bank I made these for my Norwegian colleague's birthday dinner and she was actually reduced to tears. Until she noticed there wasn't any lingonberry jam, that is. See, you just don't mess with traditional dishes - so it's practically mandatory to serve these with mashed potatos and brown gravy. And that lingonberry jam of course... (you should be able to locate some at least at Ikea's food shop - that veritable treasure trove for all Scandinavian staples!)

I dared to use a little bit of creative freedom and made my mash with browned butter that I wrote about when making colcannon. I'm so in love with the nutty toffee-like toastiness I doubt I'll ever go back to the old way. Oh, and I'm sure the dish wouldn't be ruined even if you used that caramelized onion gravy I made for bangers & mash!

In case, like me, you make your own bread crumbs, you can make these gluten-free by using gluten-free bread. The egg could also be omitted, though it does change the texture a bit. To a not-so-soft,more easily pliable direction though. Whether you fry these in a pan or bake them in the oven is to a very much an issue of your own personal preference. In case you have Hercules Poirot-like symmetry-obsessed inclinations, oven is your safest bet as it keeps the shape nicer. In that case heat the oven hot and turn it down as soon as you put the meatballs in - that way the liquids don't tend to run out as easily.


1 dl low-fat créme fraîche
1/2 dl dry bread crumbs
(1 egg)
400 g mince
1 onion
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves (or nutmeg)
salt, black pepper

Combine bread crumbs with créme fraîche and let sit for about 10 minutes. While the créme fraîche is absorbing the bread crumbs, sauté finely chopped onion in a little bit of butter until soft. Add into the breadcrumb mix, work in the mince and lastly the egg. Season and fry a little test ball to see if the seasoning is right. Bake in the oven at 180° or in a pan in batches in a little bit of oil/ butter.


50 g butter
2 generous tbsp all-purpose flour
6 dl stock
1 generous tsp tomato concentrate
1/3 tsp ground allspice
salt, black pepper
(1 dl cream)

Melt the butter in a pan. Add into it the flour and let it brown and cook in peace. When the mixture has a nice, deep amber colour, add stock, stirring continuously to prevent any lumps from forming. Let cook for another 10 minutes or so. Season and, if desired, add cream. 


1 kg potatos
1,5 dl hot milk
75-100 g butter, browned
salt, white pepper

Peel the potatos and boil or steam until done. Mash with milk, season and add into the mixture butter that you've first browned in a pan.

Note the use of curly parsley, paying homage to the era of innocence before the Jamie Olivers of the world
took over the TV screens lecturing us about the virtues of Italian flat leaf parsley. And coriander!




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