Ok. I have to start this post with a bit of a confession. In all the times I’ve been to IKEA – which is a lot – I’ve never had meatballs in the restaurant. I’ve eaten more than my fair share of hotdogs from the little Bistro by the exit. Oh and maybe a slice or two of Daim Cake. But for whatever reason the legendary meatballs have passed me by.
That’s not to say I haven’t considered trying them, more that the opportunity just hasn’t arisen. Up to this point I guess I’ve successfully avoided IKEA around mealtimes. It’s better to sneak in early in the morning or later in the evening. Any other time is just too damn busy.
After many years of walking past posters of them in store, or being told by friends how nice they are, curiosity got the better of me. Though as IKEA is a 45 minute drive away I decided to make my own version at home and save the trip. The good news, for me at least, is that there are lots of recipes out there to guide me in the right direction. I’ve taken a few attempts to get the flavour of these right. I only hope that this version of the recipe works for you too.
Firstly, I make the meatballs with a mixture of pork and beef. Some recipes call for one or the other, but experience tells me that the best meatballs contain both. The addition of allspice as a seasoning seems to be a constant across all recipes, so that’s a given. As was using both breadcrumbs and egg as a binder – though soaking the breadcrumbs first isn’t always suggested. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t do any harm so I’ve stuck with it.
Finally, although I start these off in the frying pan to brown the outside, I like to cook them in the oven. It saves them getting burnt on any one side and frees up the pan for me to make the sauce. Which takes all of ten minutes – perfect on the timing front, as you can take the meatballs straight out of the oven and into the sauce.
I served this batch with some lightly buttered pasta, but they’d work just as well with rice or mashed potatoes. Just don’t serve them with a depressingly plain boiled potato – as in the IKEA posters – as that makes me a little bit sad. No matter how traditional it may be.
Oh and speaking of tradition… Even though these are called Swedish Meatballs they’re not really from Scandinavia at all. The official Swedish Twitter account admitted that they are based on a recipe brought back from Turkey in the 18th Century. Not that it matters – they’ve done a great job of making them their own since!
for the Meatballs
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil for frying the onion
- 1 Onion peeled and grated
- 50 g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley finely chopped
- 100 ml Semi-skimmed Milk
- 500 g Lean Beef Mince
- 500 g Lean Pork Mince
- ½ tsp Ground Allspice
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 large Free Range Egg
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil for frying the meatballs
for the Sauce
- 50 g Butter
- 50 g Plain Flour
- 500 ml Good Quality Beef Stock warmed to near simmering
- 200 ml Double Cream
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tbsp Fresh Parsley chopped to garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the grated onion and cook for 10-15 minutes until softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, put the breadcrumbs and parsley into a large mixing bowl and pour over the milk. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.
- Add the cooled onion to the breadcrumb mixture and stir, Sprinkle in the spices and mix until combined. Break apart the beef mince and pork mince, before adding to the bowl and mixing well. Finally break the egg into the bowl and bringing everything together. If you have time, put this mixture into the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
- Divide the mince mixture into bite-size meatballs – around 4-5cm in diameter.
- Heat a heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the meatballs in small batches and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and sealed on the outside. Transfer to a baking tray and put in the oven for a further 15 minutes until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, clear any crispy bits out of the frying pan then add the butter. When melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir until it’s well mixed with the butter. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes until it slightly darkens in colour.
- Slowly add the beef stock, whisking constantly, to bring it together as a smooth gravy. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer and allow to bubble from 10 minutes until reduced in volume by about half.
- Add the worcestershire sauce and mix well, before pouring in the double cream, again whilst stirring constantly, to give you a rich smooth sauce.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and stir until well coated in the sauce.
- Serve immediately.