We always have Swedish meatballs for Christmas Eve. They are a tradition in our Christmas Eve buffet, along with mashed potatoes to ladle the meatballs and gravy over. This year we were away at my Dad’s for Christmas and we went a traditional roast turkey and the trimmings route. The ground beef and ground pork for the Swedish meatballs were tucked away in the freezer for another time.
The ground meat called to me from the basement freezer: “Make me into meatballs”. In spite of having two Christmases with the families, it didn’t feel like the holiday was complete without having Swedish meatballs. On a cold, grey Saturday a week into the new year, I had to make them happen. Swedish meatballs in mass quantities. I’d freeze them in portions for future meals.
I make the meatballs with a 2 to 1 ratio: two parts ground beef to one part ground pork. I use a large bowl, adding the two meats and breaking them into smaller pieces. I add an egg or two, depending on the amount of meat I use. I used 3 eggs for the 9 lbs of ground meat I was using.
I also added a good sprinkling of instant oatmeal, the amount depending again on the amount of meat used. I prefer to use oatmeal as my binder rather than bread crumbs. I like the texture of the balls to be a bit rougher. Using bread crumbs makes them too fine, too artificial for me. I used about 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal for this amount of meat.
Then I always add plenty of salt and pepper and the final spice that makes them a true “Swedish meatball”, the nutmeg. The amount is up to you, we all have our own preferences on the nutmeg, I’ve noted in other recipes for the meatballs. This particular time I used about a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of black pepper and a teaspoon of nutmeg.
After I mix the meat and additions well with my hands (pausing to warm them occasionally!) I use a large cookie scoop to scoop the balls. I scoop all of the meat mixture into balls onto a baking sheet, then roll them in my hands to smooth them. Not compress them, just smooth them. We don’t want to make them dense.
I then sear the meatballs on several sides in a nonstick skillet on medium high heat. I sear a dozen or so at a time then set them aside in a baking dish to continue searing the rest.
Once all of the meatballs have a nice brown sear on them I place the baking dish into the oven and cook them for 20 more minutes.
This particular day I cheated and placed the meatballs on three baking sheets covered with foil and baked them in the oven without searing. I sacrificed the dark brown sear that gives extra flavor but I didn’t have time to sear them all. They will still be delicious.
From there, I usually make a creamy mushroom gravy and serve the meatballs and gravy on mashed potatoes. My gravy recipe is below the meatball recipe.
I roughly chop the mushrooms and sear them in a drizzle of oil until they are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. For optimum flavor they should be very browned.
In a small soup pot I heat 3 cups of beef broth and add the seared mushrooms and a cup of heavy cream.
I use my immersion blender to puree the mushrooms as much as possible. There will be chunks left, that adds texture to the gravy and is perfectly acceptable.
I use a cornstarch slurry, about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup cold water, to thicken the gravy. I stir until the gravy thickens. Add more cornstarch slurry if necessary for your desired thickness. I add the meatballs to the gravy and let them heat through, about 5 minutes or so. At the same time I add salt and pepper to taste and about 1/4 a teaspoon of nutmeg for that little hint of flavor.
When the meatballs are warmed dinner is ready. Serve the meatballs and gravy over mashed potatoes or rice.
The meatballs freeze well. I freeze them in portions with and without gravy. The meatballs are also good in a marinara sauce with pasta.
The traditional ground beef and pork meatballs in mushroom gravy with a hint of nutmeg.
- 2# ground beef
- 1# ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup quick oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Sear meatballs, a few at a time, in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brown them well on at least two sides.
Place meatballs in an ovenproof dish and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Cool and store in fridge or freeze if not using immediately.
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms; roughly chopped
- drizzle of oil
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
Gravy for 4 servings of Swedish Meatballs (16 meatballs)
Sauté mushrooms in a drizzle of oil until tender, about 20 minutes.
In a small soup pot heat the 3 cups of broth. Add the mushrooms and cream and use an immersion blender to puree. There will be small chunks of mushrooms that refuse to puree. They give the gravy a nice texture.
Add the meatballs to the pot and heat through, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.