Admit it … you love IKEA meatballs. I mean, who doesn’t?
When the furniture store first came to town I could never really understand the hype over not just their furniture but what they were serving up in their cafe. Then one day I went to see for myself and was blown away immediately … I mean furniture stores like this didn’t exist in my country. Modern designs, sleek edges, funky prints and a ton of colour co-ordinated soft furnishings to go with everything. My friends and I wanted to move in and LIVE at the store, so convinced were we that we would be quite happy there. We got everything covered there ~ beds, linen, sofas, one dollar hotdogs and Swedish meatballs ~ what’s not to like?
I had my first IKEA meatball experience only after I moved out of home and was living on my own in Singapore. Obviously, when one is a poor student where does one go to get cheap furniture for one’s rental room? I was expecting the meatballs to taste cheap and nasty but was pleasantly surprised that they were actually nice and somewhat addictive. Must be their yummy cream sauce. For years I have always wondered if it was possible to make these for myself at home and now I think I finally have.
A quick search on the internet and I came across several vlogs and websites sharing their ideas and techniques on how to make these delectable meatballs for yourself at home. So lets get started.
Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce.
250 g minced meat (50% pork – 50% beef)
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 whole eggs
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup fresh milk
½ tsp all spice
40 g unsalted butter
40 g plain flour
200 mls low-salt beef stock
100 g fresh cream
black pepper + salt to taste
It is recommended that you use a combination of ground beef and pork to give you nice juicy meatballs. Also, when making meatballs try not to use the extra lean variety coz we all know that FAT gives good flavour and texture. You don’t want dry and chewy meatballs, now do you? Here I have purchased a 60% – 40% ground meat product that worked out just fine. Always read your labels if you are not sure.
Next, we finely chop up the onion and gently sautee it in some butter. Cook over slow fire coz you want to sweat the onions, not brown it or burn the butter. Once the onions are cooked, set them aside to cool slightly while you get going on your meat filler (also known as a slurry).
A slurry, in the culinary sense, is a mixture used to thicken or bind things together. Oftentimes, when making a soup a cornstarch slurry is used to thicken the consistency of the soup to attain a more stew-like texture. Here, we are making a meat filler made of breadcrumbs, eggs and milk to provide a bouncier texture in the meatballs. Sometimes meatballs can be a bit meaty and chewy, so this technique helps a lot. Add the cooled onions + butter to the slurry mix. Stir to get a loose paste. Don’t forget to add the all-spice in here too … just a dash will suffice. If you don’t have dry breadcrumbs on hand or simply cannot find it in your country, then just use stale, slightly dry white bread. Place it in a food processor and blitz until you get breadcrumbs.
Add the ground meat and mix thoroughly with the slurry. Wrap the bowl in cling wrap and leave in the fridge to firm up for 1 hour. Keeping the mixture nice and cold will make it easier for you to roll up the balls later … so trust me, you don’t want to skip this step. ONE HOUR! No less.
Portion out the balls using a sorbet scoop, then use wet hands to roll them into nice evenly round balls. Place them on a baking tray that’s been sprayed lightly with vegetable oil.
Dust the balls lightly in some plain flour, then toss them in a pan to gently fry in some vegetable oil. We do not aim to cook them fully at this stage … we just want them nice and brown on the outside.
If you don’t want to fry them, you can always simply shove the entire tray into a hot oven for 12 – 15 mins at 210ºC. But frying is faster.
While these babies are cooking away in the oven you can get on with the gravy. Begin by making a standard roux, but this time we want to brown it a bit more than usual. So melt the butter and add the flour on low heat. Keep stirring until the roux gets a nice nutty brown.
Then pour in the beef stock a bit at a time until all of it has been added to the roux. Stir with a wire whisk to avoid lumps. Bring to the boil then add in the cream.
Adjust seasoning and keep boiling until sauce thickens slightly.
Now dump in all your half-cooked meatballs directly into the sauce to finish cooking all the way and to soak up some of that sauce. Leave to cook another 10 minutes and you are done. You are now ready to dish up these babies along with some baked potatoes and the obligatory Lingonberry jelly. I was lucky enough to have pounced upon this product at my local store one say when they were having a Nordic food extravaganza, so yaaay me. I did not have to drive all the way to IKEA and queue up for two hours just to pay for a single product. Anyone ever wonder why IKEA is always so full of people even in the middle of the work day??
Yummy yummy in my tummy indeed. Oh, this was really really good stuff. A lot more meatier than the ones at the store but at least I know it’s made from good ingredients … and not meat of the equine variety in disguise. Haha!
Buttery potatoes with beefy meat sauce is delicious!! Just make sure to use low salt beef stock and to season your gravy at the end of the cooking process because you risk ending up with an overly salty sauce if you don’t. All that reduction time results in a very concentrated flavour, so hold the seasoning until the very end.
These turned out to be richer and more filling than I had anticipated, so a few meatballs do go a long way. With this recipe I got about 24 medium sized meatballs … so you can quite happily feed four people with this.
The meatballs and the sauce have a very satisfying savoury flavour profile, but the lingonberry jelly is both sweet and tart which balances everything nicely.
Well, there you have it folks, my very successful try at making Swedish meatballs for myself at home, and if I can do it so can you. It’s a pretty straightforward recipe and it uses few ingredients. I hope you give this a try soon and see how you get on. They are indeed delicious and good to the last mouthful.
~ Enjoy! ~