Sara’s Swedish Meatballs

This recipe came about because I wanted a healthier version of most Swedish meatball recipes I was coming across. Instead of frying them in butter, I bake them (which has the added benefit of being easier, too). I used skim milk throughout (instead of the HEAVY cream most recipes call for), though you could certainly use 2% or whole milk if you prefer, which would make a richer gravy. Although I used very lean ground beef for this, you could substitute half ground pork (traditional), or use turkey instead to make it even lighter. This made about 30 small meatballs.

for the meatballs

  • 2 slices light rye or white bread, crusts removed & torn into small bits
  • ¼ cup skim milk
  • 1 lb of ground beef (or turkey)
  • ½ large or 1 small onion, grated or finely minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • pinch of cloves (would have used cardamom if I’d had it)
  • salt & pepper

for the gravy

  • 2T butter
  • 2T flour
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • ¼ tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh dill
  • 2T sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a small bowl, soak the torn up bread in the milk for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the bread out, and place in a larger bowl with the remaining ingredients for the meatballs. Use your hands to gently mix everything together to blend.

Line a half-sheet pan with parchment. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop meat mixture into roughly golf-ball sized meatballs. (I scoop them all out then go back and use my hands to roll them into a rounder shape.) Be sure the meatballs are not touching each other – two pans may be easier if you have them. [TIP: they can be prepared ahead to this point, just put the pan into the fridge until you are ready to bake.]

Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until just barely cooked through (a little pink is fine if they are beef, but not if they’re turkey of course, so you may need to cook a bit longer – cut one open to check.)

While the meatballs are in the oven, start the sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet over med heat, whisk in the flour and cook the roux over med heat for a few minutes. Turn up the heat to med/high and add the stock. Whisk well to break up/dissolve any lumps of roux, and let it bubble for a minute or two before adding the milk. If using dried dill, add that with the milk. Let this sauce simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the cooked meatballs to it (or longer, if you want to let it reduce/thicken more). Let the meatballs cook in the sauce for another 5-10 minutes, to help flavor the sauce and get well coated in it. Just before serving, whisk in the sour cream (and fresh dill, if using).

Serve with lingonberry preserves or cranberry sauce.

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