A Mid Winter's Swedish Dinner With Swedish Meatballs & Sides!

recipe

Swedish Meatballs

Sweden is known for several contributions to the world-be it Ikea, Swedish chef, Swedish meatballs, heroes and really hot men (that last one is really just from watching True Blood and The Killing). And while you get buy bags of frozen Swedish meatballs at Ikea, making a version at home without premade or packet mixes is so, so much more delicious.

Swedish Meatballs

While people often eat meatballs with a side salad or a starch, after pairing the meatballs with glazed potatoes, red cabbage and cucumber pickles, I have to say that these sides are a must. You know how I occasionally get pushy - okay more than occasionally I will get pushy but honestly it's just my way of expressing enthusiasm and I just want you to have something as delicious as I had. And these Dear Reader are three of the best sides you could ever pair with Swedish meatballs.

So much so that this became a dinner party meal it was so good. The soft meatballs are covered in a cream sauce and then there's Swedish red cabbage flavoured with spices like caraway seeds and allspice, red wine and sweetened with apple. Then boiled potatoes get a new life with a coating of browned butter and fresh dill. And to lighten it up from the rich creaminess and butter there are some fantastic fresh pickles that you can quickly whip up.

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs were the first recipe I ever made as a sort of grown up kid. It was from a microwave cookbook and the reason why my interest was piqued was because we were fascinated by this thing called a microwave that had just come out. For us, a family that only ate Chinese food, peering into the microwave as a family unit seemed as normal as watching tv.

Swedish Meatballs

The first savoury dish was one that sounded incredibly exotic to us: Kottbullar or Swedish meatballs. I mean exotic is really based on one's own perspective isn't it? We didn't know anyone from Sweden and it seemed such a distant land. We sent our dad off to the supermarket. My sister had written "Kottbullar" on top of the shopping list along with the rest of the ingredients underneath it like nutmeg and cream and things that we never had in our house. He returned, anxious and unhappy. My poor dad had searched the whole supermarket for Kottbullar. He even went against his hermit instincts and asked someone who merely shook their head and told him that they had never heard of it.

Swedish Meatballs

And that Dear Reader is when we first fell in love with Swedish meatballs. I've rarely met a meatball I don't like and the key to these is the bread in them that lightens them considerably. Instead of a tomato sauce these come with a beef stock flavoured cream sauce with parsley - a ridiculously easy but oh so rewarding sauce. These recipes below do make enough to feed a dinner party of six (or four if they're Vikings). The meatballs are also fabulous stuffed in a crunchy baguette with sauce drizzled over it with the pickles.

So tell me Dear Reader, were you fascinated by the microwave as a kid? What was one of the first things you ever cooked? Was it very different from what you grew up eating or was it a family recipe? And what do you think of when you think of Sweden?

Swedish Meatballs

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 500g/1.1lbs beef mince (not lean)
  • 500g/1.1lbs. pork mince (not lean)
  • 2.5 cups fresh bread cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups hot beef stock (best quality)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to season

Swedish Meatballs

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F and line 2-3 baking trays with parchment. Heat the butter in a frypan and saute the onions until translucent. Allow to cool a little. Mix the onions with the two minces, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper.

Swedish Meatballs

Step 2 - Shape into small balls. I use a small ice cream scoop (not a regular sized one, that is too big). Place onto lined trays and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden.

Swedish Meatballs

Step 3 - Meanwhile make the sauce. I use the same frypan and melt the butter. Then add the flour and stir to cook it for a minute. Add the hot beef stock in two or three lots and stir to combine. Add the cream and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Swedish Meatballs

Boiled Potatoes Glazed With Browned Butter Dill Sauce

Swedish Meatballs

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

  • 1kg/2.2lbs of potatoes, washed
  • Salt for cooking
  • 50g/1.7ozs butter
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill

Swedish Meatballs

Step 1 - Boil the potatoes in generously salted water until fork tender - about 45 minutes to an hour for medium sized potatoes. Allow to cool and slip the skins off. Heat the butter on a medium high heat and then allow to brown - when it smells nutty it is ready. Remove from the heat and skim the foam off the top and use the top layer (leave behind the grainy bits). Toss the potatoes in the golden butter and fresh dill.

Swedish Meatballs

Tip: you can also roast carrots and use the browned butter and dill to flavour them.

Swedish Red Cabbage

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • 2 red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped up
  • 1 kg/2.2lbs red cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 cloves
  • 2.5 teaspoons salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Swedish Meatballs

Step 1 - Saute the onions in the butter on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the apples and cook for 3 minutes or so. Then add the cabbage and stir and place the lid on for about 10 minutes and cook on medium heat. After 10 minutes the cabbage should have softened and wilted. Then add the red wine, brown sugar, vinegar,caraway seeds, allspice and cloves. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until soft. Season with salt and black pepper.

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Fresh Swedish Cucumber Pickles

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus 30 minutes resting time

Cooking time: 0 minutes

  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill

Swedish Meatballs

Step 1 - Slice the cucumbers as thinly as possible. Add salt on top and allow the excess water to drain out from them in the fridge for 30 minutes. Drain the water and add the vinegar, sugar and dill.