Swedish meatballs, or Köttbullar, are made with a combination of ground pork or beef in a creamy brown gravy. IKEA and 1960s cocktail parties have made them somewhat cliche, but Swedish meatballs' soft texture and gentle spice nuances, gained from nutmeg or allspice, make these a family and crowd pleaser. Make this Scandinavian specialty into a meal, or serve it as part of a huge spread for your next get-together.
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A creamy gravy, usually made with heavy or sour cream and pan drippings, is a must for Swedish meatballs. A side of boiled potatoes that are cubed, riced or mashed with butter sops up the gravy and is a traditional accompaniment. A traditional Swedish meatball meal always includes a side of ligonberries, served raw or as a jam. If you can't get ligonberry jam, red currant or grape jelly will do in a pinch.
Unique Meatball Eats
In Sweden, unsauced meatballs make a quick snack. Alternatively, layer the meatballs on a buttered roll or slices of dark rye bread for a traditional Swedish sandwich. Make a salad of chopped canned beets, sour cream, mayonnaise and scallions to add to the sandwich for a real Swedish-style treat. Top it all off with sliced dill pickles.
Traditional Winter Smorgasbord
For a feast, serve Swedish meatballs as part of a traditional Swedish smorgasbord. This collection of foods is meant to be eaten in a specific order, starting first with a collection of cold dishes that include pickled herring, eggs with anchovies, gravlax and boiled potatoes with dill. Warm dishes come next, including the meatballs alongside pureed potatoes, roast beef and spare ribs, or ham at Christmas time. An assortment of sweets finishes the meal.
A more Americanized way to serve Swedish meatballs is over rice or boiled egg noodles garnished with chopped parsley. These starches soak up the creamy gravy as well as potatoes do. At a cocktail party, serve Swedish meatballs with toothpicks for easy eating, alongside other classic cocktail fare such as cheese fondue, crudite, stuffed mushrooms and shrimp canapes.