Christmas is approaching. I presume that most of you are aware of that. You may have started putting up the Christmas decorations yourselves. If not, you just have to walk out through the door to be surrounded by glittering stars, flashing raindeers with associated Santa Clause, obscure little gnomes, and millions of Christmas lights.
You know it’s high time to start planning the Christmas dinner.
Here in Sweden, we must start planning in good time if we are to have a chance to be ready on time.
The list of required food items is long. There has to be, ham, potatoes, stewed kale, pickled herrings, smoked salmon, spare ribs, mushroom omelet, mustard, sausages…..
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. And from a food waste perspective, it’s quite depressing. We have to waste most of the food we are cooking because there’s no chance that we can eat all of it. Something I use to rant about to my family’s dismay.
But we have tried to reduce the amount of food the last years. Instead of cooking everything that is supposed to be on the Christmas table, we are focusing on what we want.
For me, that includes three things. Ham, pickled herring, and meatballs. A small potato to the herring is desirable, but not necessary. If I can also get a glass of good Christmas beer and a schnaps, I’m more than happy.
But meatballs are a must.
And for most other Swedes too. I don’t think I have ever experienced a Swedish Christmas meal without meatballs. What can I say? We take our meatballs seriously.
I searched for Swedish meatballs on Pinterest and found lots of recipes. They seem to be quite well-known around the world, and I suppose we can thank IKEA for that.
Most of the recipes claim that they are traditional and authentic, which is not entirely correct, I’m afraid. I’m sure that most of them are delicious, but I only found a handful that can be classified as authentic.
And let me get this straight. There is no such thing as Authentic Swedish meatball soup. Ask a Swede for a recipe for that, and you will see a face in complete confusion.
And don’t mention anything about vegan meatballs. You can almost compare that to shouting obscenities in church. There is nothing wrong with the vegan food. I’m trying to reduce my meat consumption as well, but it’s not an option when it comes to meatballs.
You see how important this subject is, even for me? I have used a whole paragraph nit-picking on other peoples enthusiastic attempts to create new exciting dishes. It’s time to stop that and give you my version of a Swedish meatball recipe. My traditional Christmas meatballs.
Perhaps I shouldn’s say it’s my recipe. I have been inspired by a recipe by the Swedish chef Leif Mannerström. I have of course tweaked it a little bit, but it’s very close to the original.
Leif points out two important things to consider when frying meatballs.
Use a mixture of ground meat from both beef and pork.
If you only use ground beef, there’s a risk that the meatballs will become a bit dry.
Use both fried and raw onion.
Fried and raw onion taste very different, and you want both these tastes.
The original recipe, like most other, contains egg. The egg acts as a binder, keeping the ball together during the frying. It also adds a more compact, and in my opinion, a bit gummy texture that I don’t like. I want a more loose texture, so I use to exclude the egg. You have to be more careful when frying meatballs without egg, but it is possible. Just watch all the pictures in this post.
However, this is a matter of taste (and courage). Try both versions and see which one you prefer.
What distinguishes Christmas meatballs from the ordinary are all different types of seasonings. The most common is allspice. Cinnamon and clove are also quite popular. My favorite is no extra seasoning at all. I prefer ordinary meatballs even when it’s Christmas.
I know. Sometimes I can be quite boring. But I think Leif Mannerström agrees with me. He has no extra seasoning in his Christmas meatballs either.