Christmas is by far my favorite holiday meal of the year, celebrated by our family on the night of December 24th. The meal has evolved into an epicurean mash-up of my maternal grandparents heritage, but the star of the show remains the traditional Swedish Meatballs.
Although widely eaten year round at Ikeas across the world, meatballs or köttbullar in Swedish are traditionally served as part of the Julbord Christmas feast in Sweden. Julboard is generally celebrated with family on Christmas Eve, with friends on the weekends in December, and with work-mates for the office Christmas parties during the working week.
Growing up in Minneapolis, we bought our Swedish Meatball Mix from Ingebretsen's Meat Market every year. As I have not lived in Minnesota for quite some time, I have had to figure out how to make my own meatballs from scratch. After many years of searching, I believe I have finally found a recipe that can not only rival Ikea, but would proudly be served on any Swedish Julboard table.
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large slice white bread, crusts removed
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, grated on large holes of cheese grater and water squeezed out
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
For The Meatballs:
1. Whisk egg and cream together in a bowl. Tear in bread, mix, and set aside.
2. Add pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and baking powder to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on high until the mixture is pale and smooth, scraping the bowl as you go along. This important step will create the sausage-like spring and snap when you bite into your meatballs.
3. Mash the bread, egg, and cream mixture with a fork until smooth. Add to the mixer bowl and beat on high until smooth and homogeneous.
4. Add the beef and mix on medium speed until the beef is just incorporated.
5. Using wet hands, form 25-30 1-inch round meatballs.
6. Traditionally, the meatballs are fried in butter or oil and the pan is used to make the gravy. I personally bake my meatballs on a parchment lined backing sheet in a 400°F oven until golden brown. I then simply add my browned meatballs to the sauce and let the mixture simmer together for awhile.
For The Sauce:
1. Melt butter in pan, add flour and cook until light brown.
2. Slowly whisk in chicken stock, getting rid of all lumps.
3. Add brown sugar and simmer until thickened.
4. Stir in cream and add meatballs back to pan. Simmer.
5. When ready to eat, stir in juice of 1/2 lemon and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with mashed potatoes, lingonberry preserve, and pickled cucumbers. Enjoy!