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Swedish Meatballs

February 12, 2011

Swedish meatballs differ from Italian-style meatballs in their texture and their seasonings: while good Italian meatballs are extremely tender and will practically melt in your mouth, Swedish meatballs are meant to have a more of a substantial springy mouth feel. Swedish meatballs contain spices such as allspice and nutmeg to complement the sweetness of the brown cream sauce, rather than oregano or other Italian spices that traditionally pair well with tomato-based sauces.

Whenever my parents and I traveled up to Hamilton, Ontario to shop at Ikea, Swedish meatballs were always one of my favorite things to get at the cafe inside the store. I had never really thought about making them myself, but when Cook’s Illustrated published a recipe for them back in January 2009, I knew I had to try it!

This particular recipe calls for a stand mixer to whip the pork and panade to help create the springy texture, but you could probably use a hand mixer and a longer mixing time  if you lack a stand mixer. Make sure you add enough oil to the pan to truly shallow-fry the meatballs; otherwise they won’t brown evenly.

Swedish meatballs


Serves 4 to 6

Serve with mashed potatoes, boiled red potatoes, or egg noodles.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1  large egg
  • 1/4  cup heavy cream
  • 1  large slice high-quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 8  ounces ground pork
  • 1  small onion, grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/8  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1  teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons table salt
  • 1  teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces 85% lean ground beef
  • Vegetable oil for shallow-frying

Sauce

  • 1  tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1  tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  tablespoon packed brown sugar (may use less if desired)
  • 1/2  cup heavy cream
  • 2  teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • Table salt and ground black pepper

Directions

  1. For the meatballs: Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside. Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Using fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary. Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
  2. Heat enough oil to completely cover bottom of a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan (or a 12-inch skillet) over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
  3. For the sauce: Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.
  4. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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