Recipe – Tore Wretman's meatballs
Photo: Per Ranung
Every week, a new recipe from my Swedish cook book Kära Sverige (Cozy Publishing, 2018)
Let's start with the classic of the classics: the Swedish meatballs. Sweden's official national Twitter account declared earlier this year that meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century, and thus not Swedish at all. There is, however, a very Swedish way of serving them: with sugary lingonberry, pickled cucumber, mashed potatoes and gravy. Here's the classic – and in my opinion, best – recipe, developed by legendary chef Tore Wretman.
For 4 people
1 dl breadcrumbs or white bread
2 dl cream
200 g ground beef
100 g ground veal
100 g ground pork
½ chopped onion
salt and black pepper
butter (to fry)
Japanese soy sauce
Soak the bread crumbs or bread in cream until soft. Then add the ground meat to the cream-bread mixture. Fry the chopped onion on low heat until it’s soft. Next, mix the onion, egg and meat with a wooden fork until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Now, it's time to roll the meatballs. Form the balls with wet hands and place them on a plate moistened with water (that way, they won't stick). When all the meatballs all done, start frying them in in butter, but not too many at once. Shake the pan occasionally so that the balls cook evenly. It takes about 10 minutes for them to cook through, but you can check by cutting one in half. Between each batch, add some water in the pan and save the broth. When all meatballs are cooked, sprinkle some flour on the pan, add the broth, a few drops of Japanese soy and some cream. Stir and simmer for a few minutes. If you want a completely smooth sauce, you can strain it.
Serve the meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumber slices and fresh or frozen (but thawed) lingonberries tossed lightly in sugar.
This is how you make pickled cucumbers Swedish style: slice a cucumber into very thin slices and sprinkle with salt. Place something heavy on top of the cucumbers for 30 minutes; then pour out the excess liquid. Whisk together 1 dl of water, 2 tbsp of white distilled vinegar, 1 tbsp of chopped fresh dill, 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. Pour the mix over the cucumbers and chill for an hour.