Just about everyone can recognize a classic Italian meatball, as they are large, usually served with marinara sauce, and commonly include garlic, onions, and parsley.
Swedish meatballs are not as popular as Italian meatballs in many parts of the world, especially the US. This makes them slightly harder to distinguish. Yet, they still have some unique characteristics, like being smaller, utilizing different herbs and spices, and often being served in a fatty, creamy sauce.
In this article, we offer a unique take on these classic Swedish meatballs. Our recipe borrows some elements from both Italian and Swedish meatballs, though ultimately it offers a unique way of consuming meats like pork and beef. Towards the end of the article, we offer our final thoughts on the future of meatballs more generally.
Sourcing the Meat for your Swedish Meatballs
There are many ways to form your meatball. For this recipe, we use an equal combination of organically produced, locally sourced beef and pork. We love the synergy that develops between these two sources of meat, as each adds a subtle element to the resultant meatball.
Many other meats can be used, like veal and venison. Some people are ethically opposed to eating certain animals, forcing them to use a particular kind of meat for this recipe.
We also recommend purchasing meat that has been organically produced. It’s important to note that just because a piece of meat has not been organically certified does not mean that organic farming methods were not used. Some farmers avoid the process of organic certification, as it can be lengthy and costly.
Making the Swedish Meatballs for Cooking
Once you’ve acquired some organic, local meat, it’s time to create your meatballs. We love this part of the recipe, as it often reminds us of building structures out of playdough in childhood.
Conceptualizing it in this way is helpful, as it will encourage you to take each meatball both seriously and light-heartedly. Just think back to childhood and remember how consumed you were by building things yet how simultaneously silly and innocent you were. Approaching these Swedish meatball in this way is the best way to value your methods while also staying detached. This balance is critical when it comes to culinary creativity, which is ultimately what you want to maximize.
In order to make each meatball, we use the following ingredients, which serves 5-6 people:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 pound of ground pork
- A fourth of a cup of flax seed powder
- 1 small finely chopped white onion
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- A half of a teaspoon of chipotle powder
- A fourth of a teaspoon of ground allspice
- A fourth of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- A fourth of a teaspoon of ground cumin
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
We put all of these ingredients in a bowl and then mash them around with our hands in order to create an even distribution.
After doing this for about 5 minutes, we then form golf ball-sized meatballs with our hands. We then place these on a cutting board to the side. Each meatball doesn’t have to be perfectly circular, though it does have to be relatively compact and sturdy. If you don’t put enough force into forming your meatballs, then they will likely come apart when you cook them on the stovetop.
Furthermore, we used flax seed powder as a binder for this recipe. Many people prefer to use eggs. If you go this route, 1 egg will work just fine.
A Note on the Quantities
It should also be noted that these quantities are more of rough estimates, as we often diverge slightly from these amounts each time we make our meatballs. As we alluded to above, staying present is critical when making these Swedish meatballs. If you feel swayed in some unexpected direction, then we recommend following that impulse.
As long as you use fresh, whole foods in moderation, it will be difficult to make any true errors when crafting these meatballs. Sometimes we feel inspired to add some ginger and turmeric powder for a bitter kick.
More than anything, we try to treat each meatball as a living thing that will eventually grow into a succulent, nourishing food source.
Cooking the Swedish Meatballs on the Stovetop
Next, we turn on the stove to low heat and put 2 tablespoons of ghee butter on the pan.
While the ghee is melting, we put 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of mustard sides on the pan. This gives the dish a spicy, nutty flavor that complements the chipotle power perfectly.
After about 2-3 minutes, we turn up to medium heat and put our Swedish meatballs on the pan, stirring them around in the butter, garlic, and mustard seeds. The butter will give the meatballs a beautiful golden layer that will satisfy the most aesthetically sensitive guests.
Next, we put 2 large scoops of coconut cream and a half of a cup of coconut milk into the pan to create a buttery, nutty broth for the meatballs to sizzle in. We put a cover on the pan and let it cook for another 5-7 minutes, frequently shaking the pan to make sure the meatballs are cooked evenly.
Then, we turn the heat down to low and let the meatballs slowly cook while we prepare the next part of this recipe. When the meatballs are done cooking, we usually save the creamy, buttery broth that they were cooking in. This can be used to create a sauce later on if you are pairing the meatballs with some kind of grain, like a wheat-based pasta or rice.
Pairing the Swedish Meatballs with Tailgate Food
If you are planning on serving these delectable Swedish meatballs at your next tailgate event, then you have several options.
On the one hand, these Swedish meatballs are so delicious that we often bring reusable toothpicks and serve them as hors d’oeuvres. The small size of these meatballs as well as their pungent aroma and tender texture make them perfect for this kind of usage.
Your guest will especially love the explosions of flavor in each bite. Anyone who is avoiding gluten will also love this choice. This is because this food is reminiscent of a burger due to the meat and butter, yet it lacks the gluten-based bread that often accompanies a burger
If you want to integrate these Swedish meatballs into a main course at your tailgate, then this is also very easy to do. You can do this by making pasta beforehand as well as some kind of thick, creamy sauce. Ideally, you can use any leftover ghee butter and coconut cream from cooking the meatballs.
You can always add some tomatoes to this sauce if you want it to be more reminiscent of marinara sauce. Alternatively, you can add some agar agar powder. This will allow the sauce to solidify once it cools, creating a thick yet simple texture composed mainly of butter and cream.
Our Final Thoughts on the Future of Meatballs
We love this recipe more for its tastes and textures rather than the animal meat that is used. We think the world is transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, which excludes the use of animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs.
Fortunately, there are many plant-based ingredients you can use to emulate the same tastes and textures of the animal-based foods.
When it comes to these Swedish meatballs, it shouldn’t be hard to find plant-based ingredients. For example, a combination of black beans, flax powder, mushrooms, and zucchini can be used to form the plant-based meatballs. Additionally, coconut oil can be substituted for the ghee butter, giving the meatballs a nuttier profile.
We think this plant-based future will dovetail well with tailgating events, as most plant-based foods are very easy to transport and store. This would allow you to even make these meatballs on site, which could be a great opportunity to teach kids about the culinary process. This would also be a great way to bond over food, an activity that is severely lacking in modern society.
At the end of the day, as long as you put care and love into these Swedish meatballs, they will sustain you for many hours. This is necessary during tailgates, especially during the winter when the cold weather can make spending extended time outdoors brutal.
Some people opt for store-bought, pre-made meatballs that were likely made by a machine. It’s hard to know the conditions surrounding the creation of these meatballs as well as the precise ingredients used. Creating meatballs from scratch gives you more information about the ingredients used, which makes it easier to value the meal.