Monday, March 16, 2015

A night in Sweden


Back in December, we visited an IKEA store in Tempe, Arizona while on vacation. We ate lunch in the restaurant; I had a salmon dish and the Bear had the Swedish meatballs plate. My lunch was okay but we all loved the meatballs. It was decided that I should try to make them at home sometime. I'm almost positive that I'd already tried making them a few years ago, but the memories are hazy. I asked here on my blog for a good recipe, and Julia came through with this one, from a blog called Damn Delicious. They were described as being "so much better than the IKEA version," so they definitely seemed worth a try, which I did last week.


Traditionally, Swedish meatballs are made with a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. I used ground turkey instead of pork because ground pork is a bit difficult to find. The recipe also calls for panko - Japanese bread crumbs - but I only keep the seasoned Italian type in the pantry, so I made my own plain bread crumbs from a few slices of whole-grain sandwich bread (it's easy - you just dry the bread in a very low oven for about half an hour and then crush the slices into fine crumbs). The other ingredients are pretty basic - onions (sauteed in oil before going into the meat mixture), egg yolks, salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg. The meatballs are browned in oil, then moved to a paper towel-lined plate to drain while you make the gravy.


Once you've made the gravy, the meatballs go back into the skillet to heat through. The gravy thickens as it simmers. It's a rich gravy, made with both butter and sour cream. I used chicken broth instead of the suggested beef broth because I find that beef broth can have a tinny flavor. I don't think it mattered much; simmering with the meatballs gave the gravy a very meaty taste and plenty of spicy flavor from the nutmeg and allspice too.



Swedish meatballs are often served with lingonberry sauce, or jam, but we don't have any. We do have lingonberry drink concentrate, though, which we bought on our recent visit to IKEA in Arizona. We mixed it up with club soda for a bubbly beverage. I thought it was funny to make our Swedish drink with club soda from Mexico. East meets West? North meets South? I don't know! It was tasty, though. It reminded me of cranberry juice and soda, which I love to drink in the summer - with or without booze.


I served the meatballs with mashed potatoes, to help sop up the abundant gravy, and carrots. The meatballs were good and I think everyone liked them. There was plenty for everyone, the recipe makes a huge amount of meatballs. The gravy was rich and creamy, but a little on the thin side. I might use a bit more flour next time. The meatballs would have been tough if they'd simmered any longer, so I might back off the simmering time a bit. This was a fairly involved meal to make. Not difficult, just a little time-consuming. I'm not sure I'd agree that my meatballs were better than IKEA's, but I did make some changes to the recipe. They were tasty, though, and definitely a change of pace for us. All in all, we enjoyed our homemade Swedish feast!

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You guys aren't going to believe this. Remember Sidney's Square, the blanket I made for our friend's new baby? He's here now and I was shocked and amazed to learn that his name is Siddharth. My jaw just about hit the floor when I heard. I was only joking when I called him Sid! I guess it's really Siddharth's Square then. I swear I had no idea what they would name him. Time to buy my first lottery ticket? Hmmm.

If you're thinking about baking Irish soda bread for Saint Patrick's Day, I humbly suggest the recipe I like to use, found here. I made a loaf yesterday. It's delicious and so easy.

32 comments:

  1. That's a great meal! Those meatballs look delicious and lingonberry drink sounds like the perfect drink to go with it. My husband makes meatballs, too. He cooks them with tinned tomatoes and we eat them with pasta.
    Have a lovely week!

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  2. Ooooh delicious! you've got me thinking that I need a trip to Ikea!
    Love the blanket story, so funny :o)
    love Jooles x x x

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  3. Great baby story! :)
    We have soda bread quite often here.
    Happy St Patrick's Day.
    V x

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  4. Brilliant coincidence on the baby name. Well done on the meatballs, it's always a triumph in this house if I make something that everyone likes. I'm intrigued by your little round carrots, they're lovely. And I love the sound of lingonberry and soda, very refreshing. CJ xx

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    1. Hi CJ, thank you. The carrots are called Parisienne carrots and I buy them frozen in a bag. They're really sweet-tasting!

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  5. yum, I can't have ikea meatballs because of the breadcrumbs, but now I'm inspired to try making my own using a gluten free breadcrumb x

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  6. Your meatballs look delicious! They are also healthier than the IKEA ones because those have some "nasty" ingredients in them. (I've looked at the package in the store.) I wonder why ground pork is hard to find in your area? It's in every grocery store here. I'm curious about your carrots...they look like round little carrot balls...where did you find those? Very cool about the baby blanket and the baby's name!

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    1. Hi Melanie, thanks. I just don't see ground pork often around here. One time I asked in the store and they told me they have to use a different grinder so they only do it on request. I guess I could try requesting sometime. :)

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  7. Those meatballs look good, and Turkey is much healthier than pork. We're looking forward to meatballs for supper tomorrow, even more so now! xx

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  8. Hey Jennifer,
    On the rare occasions that I go to IKEA, I always have a hot dog and an ice cream. Oh and I like to buy Daim Bars too. I like meals like the one you've cooked here. My Dad would say it's a meat and two veg meal. We like those in the UK! And I think that you should definitely buy that lottery ticket.
    Leanne xx

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  9. Meatballs! Yum. John makes an Italian-flavoured meatball dish with turkey mince (or ground turkey as you call it) and it's so good - full of flavour but a little leaner than red meat. I want to try these. We used to buy the Ikea meatballs and cook them at home when we lived in Leeds but now our Ikea is 45 minutes away I'm not sure they'd survive the journey without defrosting. x

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  10. Swedish meatballs are so good! Yours look yummy.
    I love that the baby is actually a Sid!

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  11. Definitely time to buy a lottery ticket! How spooky is that?! I must remember to buy some Lingonberry juice next time I go to Ikea - I've never had it before but it sounds intriguing. Have a good week. x

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  12. Great looking meatball recipe and tasty too eh? How amazing re the baby's name lol yep go get
    that lottery ticket.....busy still destroying the bathroom here lol

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  13. Oh num num.. you're such a good mom! We actually buy the frozen meatballs at IKEA, the sauce packets AND jars of Lingonberry jam. We saute the meatballs until their good and crispy on the outside, add the sauce mix and milk to the pan with the meatballs in it and stir and it makes a yummy gravy. We serve them on ruffle edged egg noodles.. and the BEST PART is you put a big dollop of the jam on top and make sure you get a few berries with each bite of meatballs.. oh my goodness. Next time you make those you need to find some Lingonberry jam for on top. NUM! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  14. It is amazing that you chose the pattern you did for Sid's blanket :-), and your meatball meal looked very yummy indeed. I'm about ready to start the decrease rows on the baby hat I am knitting and am having fun with the project. Wishing you and yours happy days, Jennifer. xx

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  15. Hi Jennifer !
    When I read the title of your post, my first thought was : oh yay, Jennifer is in Europe ! :-)))
    Too bad you were only talking about the Ikea balls...
    Really strange you have trouble finding pork mince over there ! Here, it is just the opposite, pork is found éverywhere, but to find mince turkey or chicken, now that is a real search... Most of the time, I ground my turkey/chicken myself (because I don't want to use pork meat, too fat)

    PS - do play that lottery ;-) ! The story of Sid's blanket... just incredible...

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  16. A great meal, everyone in my family love Swedish meatballs especially the ones from Ikeas. Over here you can buy them frozen from the store, which I understand my daughters do when they shop.

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  17. I love meatballs - but as you say it's time consuming to make them from scratch. I sometimes cheat and buy good quality ready prepared ones! x

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  18. Your Swedish dinner looks absolutely yummy!

    We're big fans of soda bread here ... it's not just an Irish thing, the Welsh traditionally eat it too
    The recipe here is very like the one I use (scroll down for the tanslation). http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/cym/fetch-recipe.php?rid=bara-llechwan

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  19. I've never tried Swedish meatballs, though I've heard loads of people say how good they are. I suppose I should try them next time I'm in Ikea. What a coincidence the baby being named Siddharth, definitely get that lottery ticket bought.

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  20. Your Swedish meatballs look yummy, Jennifer! It's funny you should post this today. My daughter Alexandra is coming for a visit this week, and one of the things we plan to do when she is here is go to IKEA. I'm stocking up on lingonberry sauce, and hope to find some of the juice you got at the IKEA you visited.

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  21. hello jennifer,
    your swedish meatballs look delicious. i make often meatballs(from scratch),my family are meatball lovers I'm a big fan of soda bread.
    have a wonderful week,
    regina

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  22. Well done on creating your own Swedish meatballs, they look great...my hb would love these, he is very fond of the Ikea ones! How amazing about the baby's name......uncanny!
    Wishing you a happy week.
    Helen xox

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  23. my mouth is watering.....yum!!!

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  24. First off I can not believe the blanket and baby connection!!! That is CRAZY!!! It just means you are connected to them!!! Those meatballs look insane!!!! Thank you for sharing this one Jennifer! Happy happy week to you and your crew!! Nicole xo

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  25. Hi Jennifer, I have loved having a look round your blog, and am following you on bloglovin now, so looking forward to reading your posts. Take care X

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  26. My children LOVE meatball anything...I must get to the store an start cooking! :) xoxo Jen

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  27. I remember my mother making meatballs when I was a child, I don't eat meat now but your recipe sounds good. What a lovely coincidence with the baby blanket. :)

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  28. You! Looks like you made a delicious meal. Funny story about the babies name.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  29. Yay!! I'm glad you gave this recipe a try. I agree that the sauce could be a bit thicker, but overall I think they are pretty good. The only grocery store I was able to find ground pork for this recipe was Whole Foods.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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