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Anthony O'SHAUGHNESSY

Badass Geordie cook eating his way around the world. 

Proper Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar)

Proper Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar)

A versatile Swedish summer - one of the only comfort food that I find so delicious I even eat it in summer - mashed potato, gravy and all!

Most people are familiar with these cute little meaty nuggets, bathed in that silky blonde sauce with a little tang of mustard. Most of us have our first experience of Swedish meatballs courtesy of the Ikea food hall. Ikea's are very delicious; can't knock 'em. But it wasn't until I went to Sweden a few winters ago and tried the real thing I realised how loud the dish actually is.

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Swedish meatballs you get from Ikea seem tempered for a more shy palate it seems, because the real deal is packed with flavour and piquancy. Lingonberries on the side cut through rich gravy like a razor, and pickled gherkins cleanse your palate with a herbal hit of dill. Seriously good pantomime of flavours - no joke.

I've came up with a recipe which I've made over and over again and fancied around with other the years. This recipe saves time by using already-made meatballs. I personally don't make my own meatballs unless I'm wanting to flavour them with something adventurous, which in this case I don't. I like a mixture of pork and beef (or all-beef if that's all you can get), plainly seasoned with a fluffy, wheat rusk to keep it moist - most butchers and supermarkets do all this work for you, so can cut yourself some slack and buy them off the shelf. Either way, for the gravy alone, these Swedish meatballs, or 'köttbullar' in Swedish, pack tonnes more punch than the Ikea stuff you might be used to, and the best part is they're nowhere near as frustrating to put together as a BILLY bookcase!

SWEDISH MEATBALLS

  • 500g of fresh Meatballs (pork/beef mixture, or all-beef)
  • 50g Butter
  • 300ml of beef stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon of Plain Flour
  • 4-5 tablespoons Double Cream
  • 1 tablespoon of Wholegrain Mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
  • Chopped Parsley to garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Lingonberry Jam & Gherkins (optional)
  1. It starts by part-cooking the meatballs. Put a large frying pan onto a medium heat and add a dash of oil. Fry the meatballs for approximately 5 minutes, swirling around the pan to ensure they are browned all around. Don't worry about cooking them right through now, they will cook right through in the gravy later. Once browned, remove from the frying pan and leave to sit on a large plate, keeping all the juice in the frying pan. 
  2. Place the frying pan back onto a low heat and tip a tablespoon of plain flour into the juices, whisking it in to break up any lumps of clumps. Let it sizzle and fry for about as minute or so to cook off the raw flavour of the flour.
  3. Pour in 300ml of beef stock (or chicken stock for a milder taste) a splash at a time, mixing into the paste. It will look as though it is seizing up slightly, but it will loosen with each splash of stock you add. Once all of the stock is added, increase the heat to medium and stir gently until it thickens into a gravy in the pan.
  4. Reduce the heat, and add a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir it all in. Tip in the meatballs which have been sitting aside and stir to coat them in the gravy. Leave to stand on a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes to gently boil and cook through. 
  5. Once cooked through, lower the heat and stir through 4-5 tablespoons of double cream and some chopped, fresh parsley. Serve straight away over some buttery, mashed potatoes, some pasta or over new boiled potatoes. Eat with a dollop on lingonberry jam and some sliced gherkins for the authentic Swedish experience!
I ate a version of Köttbullar in Lapland which was super dark and rich compared to the regular, blonde version you normally see. It used a meat stock that was made from the bones of elk and reindeer, which inhabit and roam Lapland and are the primary source of meat. Having that much meat means a lot of spare bones hanging about, which were boiled down to make stocks and broths. This same stock created a dark, rich gravy which was intensely meaty and handsome. If you can get ahold of it, I recommend substituting the beef stock in this dish for venison stock for a harder-hitting comfort dish.
— ANTHONY'S SHOCK TIP

 

 

 

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