Swedish meatballs with an American accent


We ate our Swedish meatballs with plum jam and a side of Greener Greens.


Meatballs to Swedes are like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are to Americans—a kid’s lunch-time staple. We lived there for two years when Max and Molly were toddlers. They attended a morning preschool, and as we would leave each day the mothers would ask each other what they were fixing for lunch. More often than not, the answer would be kötbullar (shutte boo’-lar), literally, meat balls. They were sold precooked and frozen in plastic bags. Traditionally the meatballs are served with lingonsylt, or lingonberry jam.

Tonight I took some American liberties with the recipe: substituting ground turkey for beef; low-fat milk for cream; olive oil for some of the butter; and plum jam for lingonberry. The tart plum jam tasted remarkably like lingonberry!

Swedish Meatballs (makes about 4 dozen)

  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, or a combination)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1-1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tsp. instant coffee
  • 1-1/2 c. milk

Saute onion in 1 Tbs. of the olive oil until soft. In a large bowl combine meat, egg, milk, bread crumbs, parsley, spices and sauteed onion. Mix well with your hands and form into small meatballs (about 3/4″). Brown the meatballs in a little more olive oil, turning them to brown 3-4 sides. Either do these in two batches or use two large frying pans and do them all at once.

Remove the meatballs from the pan, and make the gravy. Dissolve the bouillon cube in a little hot water. Melt the butter, stir in the bouillon, coffee and flour. Slowly add the 1-1/2 c. milk to make a gravy. Add all of the meatballs to the gravy, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Serve with rice or noodles.

For the description of Greener Greens click here.

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