Packed with beefy flavour and set in a rich and creamy sauce, this recipe gives you Swedish meatballs without the fuss.
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Served with creamy sweet potato mash and a delicious Swedish meatball sauce, these beef and herb beauties make for a warming and hearty dinner that never fails to bring some much-deserved comfort to an empty stomach.
Originating in Turkey, the meaty, lightly spiced meatballs were brought to Sweden by King Charles II from the Ottoman Empire after 300 years of culinary exile. They were wholeheartedly embraced by the Swedish people, so much so that köttbullar, as they are known on their home turf, went on to become the country’s national dish.
Traditionally, Swedish meatballs recipes call for a 50/50 ratio of beef and pork mince, which lends itself to soft, juicy meatballs with a higher fat content than beef alone. The Swedes also utilise nutmeg, allspice and other spices to complement the meatiness. This helps achieve a distinct flavour profile and pays homage to those Ottoman roots.
An authentic köttbullar dining experience calls for a jam made from lingonberries (also known as cowberries), which are evergreen fruits native to the Northern Hemisphere. The less traditional—but more indulgent—way to enjoy Swedish meatballs is with a rich gravy made from pan drippings and thickened with cream.
The first thing you’ll need to get going is the sweet potato mash. After you’ve peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes, bring a saucepan of water to a simmer and place a steamer over the top. Transfer your potato cubes to the steamer and cover. Cook the potatoes until tender. (For faster cooking, steam the potato in the microwave instead.)
At the same time, melt half the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Once shimmering, add the shallot and cook for 5 minutes, gently stirring. When tender and translucent, transfer about a third of the shallots to a plate and set aside for later. Add stock, cream, and pepper to the saucepan with remaining shallots and bring to a simmer. As that heats, combine the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry that will easily dissolve into the sauce. Add the slurry to the sauce and whisk to incorporate.
After about 10 minutes, your potatoes should be soft and your sauce will have thickened. Remove both from the heat. Place the potatoes in a bowl with the other half of the butter and mash with a potato masher or fork until nice and smooth. Cover to keep warm.
Next, combine the mince, half the parsley, and the reserved shallot to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, a spoon, or an ice cream scoop, roll tablespoons of meatball mixture into balls and set on a plate. Wetting your hands with a little water will keep the meat from sticking to you. Once you’ve rolled all the mixture, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium flame. To ensure the temperature remains consistent throughout, cook the meatballs in 2 batches (or more depending on the size of your pan). Cook for 8–10 minutes, turning each meatball occasionally for even browning.
To serve, spoon a generous dollop of creamy mashed potato onto a plate. Pile on your desired number of meatballs and pour the pepper sauce over the top. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and season to your liking.
When it comes to accompaniments for your Swedish meatballs, you have a lot of options. Any creamy mashed potato would work well for this dish to mop up all that delicious sauce. Rice also does an excellent job at soaking up that yummy gravy. For a stroganoff-style meatball dish, serve with buttered noodles or pasta instead. If you’ve got leftovers, top a fresh bread roll with the meatballs and extra sauce and chow down – it’s delicious hot or cold!
Green veggies like steamed or sautéed beans, broccoli, zucchini, or even kale will add colour and extra fibre to this dish, not to mention look fantastic on the plate. You could also serve with a side salad for some palate-cleansing crunch.
Make these delicious beef and herb meatballs as a warming weeknight meal, or dish them up for a comforting casual dinner with friends. For an Italian take on the meatball, be sure to check out this slow cooker spaghetti and meatballs recipe. It also calls for beef mince meatballs but swaps the creamy pepper gravy for a rich tomato and red wine sauce. Or give this barley and meatball casserole a go—it’s packed with veggies and cooked in 25 minutes with a pressure cooker. If you’re on the hunt for more meaty comfort foods, you can’t go past these slow cooker baked beans with smoked ham hock, or this Spanish-style chicken and rice (another flavour-bomb recipe from Europe).
Energy: 2489kJ/595 Cals (29%)
Protein: 33g (66%)
Fat: 37g (53%)
Sat fat: 22g (92%)
Carb: 29g (9%)
Sugar: 12g (13%)
Fibre: 7g (23%)
Sodium: 652mg (33%)