Almost Swedish Meatballs

almost-swedish-meatballsMy Grandma B came to the United States from Sweden when she was about 15 years old. The meals she cooked were an interesting mix of New and Old Country. Unfortunately, her recipes live on only in my culinary memory. I hope these meatballs would have made her proud.


2 slices soft whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
scant 2/3 cup 2% milk
1 to 1 and 1/3 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 1/2 T onion minced
1/4 t mace
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t allspice
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 can condensed cream of celery soup, or one recipe cream of celery soup
1 cup white wine, divided use
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
2 T chopped fresh parsley
12 oz uncooked medium wide egg noodles

Spoon Mage™ Note:

As with all ingredients, always get the best beef you can afford. Organic grass-fed beef is better for you and more sustainable. Chuck is another good choice as it has a lot of flavor, but it has more fat. Ground sirloin is tasty and you may not have to drain any of the fat (and the flavor with it).

I don’t add salt as the salt in the soup is sufficient for me. If you wish to add salt, do that when you add the parsley and pepper.


Soak the torn bread in a bowl with milk for about 5 minutes.

Add beef, egg, onion, mace, allspice, pepper, and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Moisten your hands with a bit of water to keep everything from sticking to you. Shape the meat into balls about the size of a walnut.

This makes a rather juicy meatball, especially if you use only 1 pound of meat. It’s ok.

Set a large pan over medium high heat, add the butter, and after the butter gets sizzling, slip the meatballs into the pan using a spoon. Brown the meatballs, turning a couple times.

You may use tongs instead of spoons to turn them over if you are gentle, apologizing to each for theSwedish Meatballs disturbance as you move them about. They may not stay round at all and some of them may end up as meatsquares, but this does not change the flavor!

Go for a nice brown on at least two sides. There is no need to finish cooking the meat all the way through. The meatballs will finish in the sauce, adding just enough of their flavorful juices to the mix.

Remove the browned meatballs to a platter, drain all but 2 T or so of the fat – there will be a little excess fat if you used chuck.

Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine.

Reduce the temperature to medium-low, add the flour, and stir until well blended.

If you were a tad over the top of the measuring spoon with the flour or if there was not enough fat left in the pan, the flour may not incorporate fully. Thin it out with a little more wine or extra evaporated milk. Add a splash or two until what you have is some nice browned thickened goodness, not a solid mass though. Go for the consistency of tomato paste.

Add the soup, the rest from the cup of wine, and the cup evaporated milk, stirring it all well into the deglazed drippings. Smash any roux lumps until they concede and become part of the sauce.

Cook over medium, stirring until the gravy is thick and smooth. If you were a little heavy with the flour, the mix will be as thick as condensed soup, add the rest of the condensed milk from the can until the consistency is more like gravy, or add in another splash of wine until it is just right gravy consistency. Be careful about the wine though. It is possible to over-wine this sauce.

Add the parsley and pepper to taste.

Gently place the meatballs in the pan with the gravy. Cover and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes. Stir gently and frequently so you can keep an eye on the sauce. Reduce the heat if things bubble about too much or if you need to keep the meatballs on heat for longer than 20 minutes.

While the meatballs simmer, cook up some medium egg noodles per package directions. No yolk noodles are just as good as regular. Buy the ones you like and don’t apologize for your preference.

Drain the noodles, place them in a serving bowl, and top with a couple pats of butter (this is just so they don’t stick together) – or stir in a little extra virgin olive oil. Whichever you prefer is fine. Butter is more traditional in this Swedish style comfort food.

Scoop the meatballs and gravy onto the top of the noodles and serve with a lovely salad or green vegetable. The meatballs are also wonderful over rice instead of noodles.

Njut av

(Swedish for enjoy)

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