Swedish Christmas meatballs

 

Swedish Christmas meatballs

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.

frying onion

 

 

 

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.

Frying meatballs

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.

Spices

 

Traditional Swedish Christmas meatballs

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.

Print Recipe
Swedish Christmas meat balls
There will be no Christmas in Sweden without meatballs. At least not a merry one.This is a recipe for traditional Swedish Christmas meatballs.
Servings
meatballs
Ingredients
"Standard" meatballs
Seasoning. Choose one of the following aternatives.
Servings
meatballs
Ingredients
"Standard" meatballs
Seasoning. Choose one of the following aternatives.
Instructions
  1. Boil and mash the potato. Mince one onion and grate the last half. Fry the minced onion in butter until it gets translucent. Mix all ingredients. Add some salt and pepper and fry a small dollop of the mixture and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
  2. Form the meatballs by rolling a piece of the mixture with your hands. Fry them in batches with butter in a skillet for 4-6 minutes on medium heat. They shall have a nice brown color.
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Mushroom and blueberry crostini with anise

Crostini with mushroom, blueberries, and anise

Baking sourdough bread is one of the most satisfying things I know unless my starter is messing with me. That’s why I’m trying to bake on a regular basis, at least once a week. I try to avoid my starter getting into a deeper sleep. If they are allowed to fall into a coma they can be a bit grumpy when you try to wake them up. Trust me.

But if you bake often there will be a lot of bread. And quite often my family and I don’t manage to eat everything before it gets stale.
It’s not a big deal since there are lots of things you can do with stale bread like bread crumbs, croutons, etc.

But the easiest way to take care of stale bread is perhaps to make a grilled sandwich or crostini out of it. The result is often delicious. Much better than if you had used some junk bread from the grocery store. And the best thing is that you can put almost anything on a crostini. Search your refrigerator to see what you can find. With a little imagination, you can create a fantastic lunch, at almost no cost.

This week I found some leftover brown mushrooms in the fridge. That felt like a good start. Nothing can go completely wrong with mushrooms. Now I only had to find something that goes well with mushrooms. Butter and garlic are the obvious choices. But I also found some creme cheese. That should work as well.

Portabello

 

Star anise

 

Now it was time to be a little bit more adventurous. Instead of choosing mushroom-friendly herbs like thyme or oregano I went for star anise. I also wanted a hint of sweetness, and I had already grabbed the bottle with balsamic glaze when I changed my mind. Balsamic glaze is great, but not very adventurous. Besides, it was not long ago that I published a recipe with mushrooms and balsamic glaze. Another one would feel a bit boring. But what should I choose instead?

After a moment of thinking, I chose blueberries.

Now, before you leave, thinking that my ability to pair food can be compared to that of an ape, I want to point out that anise and blueberries work excellently together. Blueberry jam with star anise is a treat.
But would blueberries and mushrooms be a good pairing? I had no idea. I have to admit that I had never read any recipe with these two ingredients together.

So I decided to see if I could find anything on Google. And to my surprise, I found lots of recipes claiming that mushrooms and blueberries were an excellent combination. A bit unexpected, but yet excellent. And don’t forget the cream cheese. Cream cheese is a good pairing to everything, so I decided to give it try.

And to my surprise, it was just as good as everybody claimed. I thought it would work, but I never expected it to be that tasty. Anise is an exceptional spice for both mushrooms and blueberries. That was perhaps not so unexpected. But mushrooms and blueberries are also a good pairing. I promise. Next time I make this crostini I will reduce the amount of creme cheese though because I think it softens the flavors a bit to much. And perhaps I will also add some muscovado sugar to enhance the taste of blueberries.

Cooking is an eternal process of experimentation. That’s what makes it so fun.

Mushroom and blueberry crostini with anise

Print Recipe
Mushroom and blueberry crostini with anise
This mushroom crostini provides a lot of exciting flavors. A slice of fried sourdough bread topped with cream cheese, mushrooms, and blueberries with a hint of licorice from star anise.
Servings
crostini
Ingredients
Servings
crostini
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Start by grinding star anise to a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle. Grind the whole stars (both seed and pod) Mince the garlic clove
  2. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and fry on high temperature with half of the butter. Lower the heat and add garlic and a pinch of anise the last minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fry the bread slice with the rest of the butter in a skillet until golden brown.
  4. Spread cream cheese on the bread slice and add the mushrooms.
  5. Mash half of the bluberries togheter wit a pinch of anise. Spread on top of the mushrooms.
  6. Garnish with the rest of the blueberries and sprinkle the rest of the anise over the crostini.
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