It’s a bittersweet day today. As I write, I’m aboard an aircraft due to arrive in Berlin, Germany, in approximately half an hour. Pretty darn exciting. But in spite of our pending German adventures, I’m carrying a weight on my chest that refuses to dissipate. I’m sad to be leaving Sweden behind.
The last two weeks have passed in a blur of nasal congestion and activity. Fourteen days of precious family time, the highlight of which was my cousin’s wedding last Saturday night. Aaron and I felt incredibly honoured, humbled and blessed just to be on the guest list, never mind being part of the family. My cousin and her groom are two of those rare gems that you hope to meet in a lifetime: warm, generous, fun and completely genuine. It was a privilege to see them commit the rest of their lives to one another, surrounded by those who love them the most.
It’s been fifteen days since I wrote the two paragraphs above. Over the past two weeks, Aaron and I have traveled from Malmö (Sweden) to Copenhagen (Denmark) to Berlin and Munich (Germany). This morning, we boarded a train to Venice (Italy) where we will spend the next three days before traveling to Florence, Siena and Rome.
Tiring? Yeah, a little. But after seven years without an overseas adventure, I’m savouring every moment.
Anyway, in my last post I promised to share my Aunt’s Swedish meatball recipe with you. However fragmented internet access has delayed my intentions. Below, you will find the notes that I took whilst cooking with my Aunt several weeks ago. As you can see, measurements are approximate (largely as my Aunt adds seasoning by sight rather than precise quantity). The recipe is rather forgiving, however I’ll add any adjustments as required when I have the opportunity to recreate this recipe at home.
But for now, please enjoy this second visit to my Aunt and Uncle’s Swedish kitchen. Thanks again Uncle Harlen, Aunty Gun, Nattis, Rach, Dani (and the little ones) for your immense generosity, warmth and love. Until we meet again.
Gun’s Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)
Makes approximately 70 meatballs
- 800g pork mince (not too lean, you need a little fat for moisture)
- 800g good quality beef mince
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 1 egg, to bind
- lots of seasoning, probably about 3 tsp total (my Aunt uses Aromat seasoned salt, citron pepper (lemon pepper) and mixed ground pepper; if you’re game, season and mix before dabbing a tiny bit of mince on your tongue. It should be rather salty, as the seasoning will lessen after frying)
- 1 tsp white caster sugar
- 1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
- plain flour, for rolling
- butter* for frying
- To serve: boiled potatoes (season with salt), steamed green peas or beans, lingön sylt (lingonberry sauce; available at most IKEA stores) and brunsås (brown gravy).
In a small dish, combine breadcrumbs and milk. Stir well. Leave to soak for five minutes (or until the breadcrumbs have expanded to absorb all of the liquid).
Add to a large bowl with the pork and beef mince, egg, onion, garlic (if using), sugar and seasonings. Mix well (you may need to use your hands).
When combined, dab a tiny bit of mince onto your tongue to check for saltiness. If you can’t taste salt, add more (my Aunt advises that it is better for it to be a ‘tiny bit too salty’ as the seasoning will be less intense after frying).
When you are happy with the flavour of your mince, place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill (this might not be necessary on a cold day). Prepare a shallow bowl of flour for rolling and dab about 1 tbsp of butter into a heavy-based frying pan in preparation for frying.
When your mixture is firm and sufficiently chilled, roll 1 tbsp of mixture into a firm ball. Gently toss the meatball into the flour mixture, ensuring an even coating. Tap off any excess flour and place the meatball onto a clean plate in preparation for frying. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture and flour.
To fry: heat the butter over medium heat until frothy. Add the meatballs in an even layer (you may need to cook three batches to avoid overcrowding the pan) and turn the heat up to medium-high. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until browned and cooked through.
Drain on paper towels before serving 6-10 meatballs per person. For a traditional Swedish meal, accompany the meatballs with brunsås, lingön sylt, plenty of boiled potatoes and green beans.
*Do not substitute oil for butter in the frying stage or the meatballs will not taste the same. If you’re concerned about the butter burning, add a splash of neutral flavoured oil to the pan alongside the butter.