Swedish Meat Balls for Your Christmas Parties

Dan introduced me to this wonderful recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook for Swedish Meat Balls. He grew up eating them for dinner served over mashed potatoes. It was one of his mother’s go-to recipes, and I can see why. They are very tasty!

As an adult, Dan continued to make Swedish Meat Balls for his parties or for dinner. For our Holiday Open House yesterday we thought they’d be a great addition to what we were serving.

Swedish Meat Balls came to America with the Swedish immigrants who settled mainly in the Mid-West. In the early 20th century the recipe was quite popular. Its in all my Fannie Farmer editions (1926 and 1944). In the 1960s, Swedish Meat Balls were a staple for chic cocktail buffets. The new Mad Man Cookbook has one of these recipes.

But it’s Fannie Farmer’s tried and true recipe that Dan’s mom used in the 1950s and 60s to feed her hungry brood in Quincy, MA. Here’s the recipe:

The basic ingredients for meat balls

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • few grains of nutmeg
  • 3 slices fat salt pork (Dan doesn’t use this)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 3/4 c. beef broth or consomme

Combine the meat, crumbs, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Make into 1 1/2″ diameter balls using as little pressure as possible.

Cover and let stand for 1 hour in the fridge.

Brown meat balls in the pork fat (or butter).

Remove browned balls and set aside.

Melt butter, add flour, and stir until well blended.

Add stock or consomme gradually, while stirring the sauce constantly.

Bring to a boiling point and season with salt and pepper.

Add the balls back to the sauce, cover, and simmer on low for 1 1/2 hours.

Dan gets advice from Mac on proper meat ball construction

Dan has a few tips for you:

At the end of the cooking cycle don’t re-stir. Instead quick cool the pan of meat balls in the sink and then place in the fridge covered over night. This will allow the fat to rise to the top which you can them skim off the next day. It makes for a better dish.

Fannie suggests serving them with dumplings. Swedes served them with wide noodles. Dan’s mom put them over mashed potatoes.

For cocktail parties we put them in a crock pot and have a spoon for guests to use to load up as many as they want on their plates. They were a big hit at our recent party – that’s for sure.

Dan making gravy with the browned balls waiting to go back into the sauce

3 Responses to “Swedish Meat Balls for Your Christmas Parties”

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  1. Bev says:

    Hey, I make something similar but a few different ingredients. I’ve been making them since I was a”little” girl. The recipe was in my Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook. My grandmother and made them together. We servrd them with noodles. Sometimes, noww I use the mashed potatoes if I don’t have noodles. What memories cooking with my grandmother! I still make them to this day!

  2. Bev says:

    Dan, you look good in the kitchen! Wanna come here and make a meal?

  3. Dan says:

    One thing Lisa didn’t mention: Because you brown the meatballs and make the gravy using butter, there’s a lot of fat in the gravy after the meatballs have finished cooking. Before you take the pan off the burner, make sure all the fat has raised to the surface of the gravy.

    What I do when I make Swedish Meatballs is to cook them a day ahead of serving them. After they’re cooked and the fat has risen to the surface, I quick cool the pan of meatballs in water and then the pan in the frig overnight to let the fat harden. The next day I remove the hardened fat from the surface of the gravy.

    Keeping the meatballs in the frig overnight also lets the flavors mix and mingle.

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