Swedish Meatballs Recipe

This is almost unfair, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to share my recipe for Swedish meatballs. I’m also going to make a prediction about what’s going to happen to you in 2011. Chances are, you’re going to be eating a lot of Swedish meatballs. What are they, really? Bite-sized meatloaves that allow for quite a bit of improvisation as far as seasonings and condiments are concerned.

I scared colleagues yesterday by dousing my lunchbox in ketchup. Yep, ketchup. No excuses for putting ketchup on meatballs, but that was only because I didn’t have any lingonberry jam, which is my preferred condiment. Lingonberries are like mini-cranberries. If you can’t get lingonberries or lingonberry jam where you live, you should try cranberries. Or black currant (or red currant) jelly—Bonne Maman makes it, and a lot of stores carry Bonne Maman now.

What makes a meatball a Swedish meatball in my mind is pre-frying the onions in butter until they’re sweet, and adding a large amount of undercover anchovy to the mix. You won’t notice the anchovy unless you know it’s there, but it makes all the difference. Roll to it.

4 tbsp butter
2 onions, chopped very fine
1 egg
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp anchovy paste (made by finely chopping anchovy fillets in olive oil and salt)
1 tbsp Meat Magic (Paul Prudhomme’s)
1 tsp Tony Chachere’s salt-free seasoning
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or more)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp light brown sugar
3 lbs ground meat (beef, pork and veal, mixed)

Melt butter in a large skillet and sauté onion until sweet and translucent, let cool. Crack egg into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in half-and-half. Add breadcrumbs, anchovy, Meat Magic, Tony’s, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder and sugar. Let sit for a few minutes, then add onion. Add meat, mixing well. Let sit for 10 minutes. Form balls (I use a 1 3/8-inch cookie scoop to portion it out, and finish rolling by hand). Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until centers are done. Cool, pack and freeze.

To serve, take out as many meatballs as desired, defrost and then fry in a little butter in a skillet until browned all around. Serve with boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam and brown gravy. I save the fat and juice from the cookie sheets and add 4 tbsp of flour to this to make a roux, which I brown while whisking constantly for about five minutes. To this I add about 2 cups half-and-half, 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon, 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s salt-free seasoning and freshly ground black pepper to taste, plus whatever else comes to mind.