Friday, June 4, 2010

Swedish Meatballs

The other day a friend asked me why I was so passionate about cooking and where the interest had come from. I think my story is pretty much like so many other home cooks. I used to cook when I was single, but the process was a drag. At the end of the night, I'd have a sink full of dishes and a crushing reminder that I was eating alone. Yet again.


     It was easier to just get a hamburger and some beers and pass the evening on the couch watching the Dodgers.

     Eventually, I moved to L.A. (the city of my birth), got married to a great woman, surfed my guts out and began cooking again. Cooking is pretty cool when you are on the 1s and 2s for someone you care about. I also cook for my friends. They tell me my meals are good and so far no one has gotten sick and/or thrown their plate on the floor in disgust. Thank God for small miracles.

     This recipe required about 2 hours to finish; it takes a long time to form and then cook the meatballs in batches. Like a dope, I forgot to count how many meatballs were yielded, but I think it was 40 or so.

Swedish Meatballs

2 slices fresh white bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound ground chuck
3/4 pound ground pork
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (see notes)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup in a small bowl
3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Set oven to warm.

2. Tear the bread into very small pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Reserve.

3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and reserve. (You may want to cool the onions in the fridge so that they don;t begin to cook your meatball mixture.)

4. In a large bowl, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, ground pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg and onions. Mix thoroughly.

5. Using your hands, roll small meatballs. They should be between a large marble and a golf ball in size.

6. Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the meatballs in 10-12 meatball batches and saute until golden brown on all sides. Place meatballs in an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and hold in the warmed oven. You can cover them with foil to avoid them drying out.

7. Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until all the lumps have dissolved.

8. Add the cream and continue to simmer until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

In Sweden white pepper is commonly used. Use about 1/4 teaspoon instead of a half if using white pepper. Also, Swedish meatballs are rather small. They should be 1 to 1 1/2 bite affairs.

When you are reducing the broth and roux to make the gravy, be patient. It will take about 15+ minutes before the sauce is nape. I served this with potatoes and cranberries. I wanted to have lingonberries, but those are rather expensive.

This is how it all began.


  1. Fortunate wife! Fortunate friends!

  2. "I used to cook when I was single, but the process was a drag. At the end of the night, I'd have a sink full of dishes and a crushing reminder that I was eating alone." - How true this is. I enjoy cooking and preparing meals so much more now that I'm married, but the downside is that I've added more than a few pounds on in the process!

  3. I love to eat and do not feel bad about the fat, calories, etc. I figure that a good meal is all that The Man and his System has left me. ;)

    Keep on keepin' on and let the waistband expand!

  4. Tearin' it up again! This looks great. It is a beautiful thing when love of food and love of a person intersect.