Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Swedish Meatballs and the Most Under Appreciated Celebrity Chef Ever

Whenever there’s a discussion about the history of celebrity chef pop culture, one name is invariably left out, and this Swedish Meatballs recipe served as a reminder of that sad fact. How anyone can talk about the pioneers of food television without including the Swedish Chef from the Muppets is beyond me.

His frenetic energy and charisma makes Gordon Ramsey seem like a shrinking violet by comparison. His technique surpasses Emeril's on every level, and if we’re just talking catch phrases, how can you even begin to compare “Yummo” to “Bork, Bork, Bork?”

Some use the excuse that he wasn’t actually real, that he was just a bunch of stained, smelly fabric, wrapped around some dude’s hairy forearm. Well, that may be true, but it goes beyond that. I believe there’s been a systematic discrimination against Swedish chefs, which has made advancing upward impossible. I call it the ice ceiling.

Do NOT forget the Lingonberry jam!
Anyway, in related news, these Swedish meatballs rocked! Unlike most of the recipes I post here, I’ve had little experience with the recipe, but was very happy with the results, except for one major issue, which I mention in the video. I broke the cardinal rule of meatball making, and used lean meat.

Not paying attention, I picked up a package of ground pork that turned out to be 95% lean. The horror. I might as well have used tofu. Nonetheless, I loved the flavor, but implore you to use regular ground beef, and ground pork with a 75/25 lean-to-fat ratio. Do that, and you’ll be enjoying a plate of meatballs even the world's most under appreciated celebrity chef would love. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions:
For the meatballs:
2 tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
pinch of cayenne
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
*Note: you can always cook a little piece to taste for salt, and adjust from there.
Brown meatballs in 425 degrees F. oven for about 20-25 minutes.

For the sauce:
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp  all-purpose flour
3 1/4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

60 comments:

tenacioustinkering said...

I have EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT to make this. Will I do it? Hope I won't have parts leftover...

Locatively Aware said...

Taking a lesson from the Swedish Chef, your videos could use some more unintelligible gibberish and random cartoon violence. Just saying.

Emil Svensson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emil Svensson said...

Greetings from sweden! Bork, borkbork. Well done, not how a swede would have made them but most definatly doesnt suffer from a chef-john-ification. Looks delish, and you are spot on with the lingonberrys. This is not uncommonly served with mashed potatoes also. Thanks for being excellent!

Molly said...

I love your videos, but I need to ask, where are you from? I can always hear your accent when you say "hard" and "large", and it makes me chuckle :)

Luatica said...

It is not too far away from my Swedish boyfriend's recipe. They use white pepper instead, but that's about it. Everyone has their own variation. God job!

Dawn's Recipes said...

I love you for posting this! Thanks, Chef John! I'm about 2 hours away from the nearest Swedish put-it-together-yourself-and-have-parts-left-over store, and I'm of the opinion that homemade is always better anyway. I'm off to Blood Farm (honest to goodness, that's the name of our local slaughterhouse) for some fresh meat so I can make these ASAP!

Unknown said...

in my country we dont have Lingonberry jam, have another jam what can i use ? ty

Unknown said...

i dont have Lingonberry jam! what can i use ?

Chibby said...

Close enough to my great grandma's recipe:) I may have to make these soon

Paul Ladd said...

Chef John! My wife is allergic to beef. Will we come to an untimely end if we use only pork in your recipe?

ankartoft said...

Nice Video again!
some tips from a swede -
I use otemeal instead of breadcrumbs as i experiance better body and more moist, i also use raw finly greated onion for more taste. the sauce is made from the left overs in the PAN with a lot of heavy cream, worth the mess every day :), also try "pressgurka" to go with it, google-it :) for christmas, we always make small size, half your sice meat balls and put some Xmas spices like allspice (sometimes also anchovis), to make them perfectly round we freeze them for some minuts to firm up :)

Michael Smith said...

This looks delicious! I've been looking all over for some good gourmet recipes in Massachusetts where I live, though I may just have to try some of these.

Puneet Gupta said...

Hi Chef John!

I noticed that your uploaded images have inverted colors. Could you please fix this. That'll really help.

Thanks!

Sarah-Jane - SiliconeMoulds.com said...

I found your blog by chance a couple of days ago when looking for something different to do with lamb shanks....

OMG - your lamb vindaloo rocks and your meatballs look amazing. Now I know what I'm cooking this weekend and what's on my shopping list !

I hope you don't mind, I'm put your lamb recipe on my blog for my own reference... slightly different to match my store cupboard ... but with TOTAL credit to you.

Amazing blog by the way :-)

Jason Smith said...

Just made a batch of SFQ Pork BBQ. Not bad, Chef. Not bad at all. Congrats to you and the wife!

Chris K. said...

My favorite Swedish chef bit from the Muppet Show is where he's attempting to cook a lobster. It gets rescued by a mob of pistol-waving lobsters wearing sombreros and ammo belts, who shoot up the kitchen while screaming in Spanish. Complete, beautiful chaos.

While mashed potatoes are traditional with Swedish meatballs, I like to serve them with buttered egg noodles. Never cared for the lingonberries.

Dempsoir said...

So is the spatula story a MacGuffin?

Patrick said...

Chef John, please forgive my ignorance, but would the oven browning method you used in this recipe work adequately with your turkey cocktail meatballs with orange cranberry glaze recipe?

Chef John said...

Yes it will!

Food Junkie said...

For those unable to get lingonberry jam, cranberry jam.sauce is supposed to be an decent substitute.

Georgia Dabinett said...

Ah...pot luck at work next week and I was racking my brain to figure out a main course dish to bring... whaaaalaaaa! Noodles will be hard to make and bring in, so I'm thinking rice...made the right way, pan roasted first and then steamed. Thanks much for making this step by step easy. Now multiplying the recipe by 10!

Ersal said...

Why didn't you use the silpat to bake the meatballs?

Chef John said...

no reason!

shirsureok said...

Made it for dinner with garlic mashed potatoes, it's delicious! Thank you~

Devilham said...

Just made this tonight, substituting thanksgiving (home made) cranberry sauce for the lingdonberry sauce, and it came out famously!!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

Jude said...

Looking at your video I can only wonder WHY didn't I oven bake the 8 pound batch of Swedish meatballs that I made for last years office party?!? They were all hand rolled too...and it DID make a huge mess! Never again... I'll do better with a future batch of turkey meatballs for my brown bag lunches: thanks Chef John!

Orenwolf said...

Hi Chef John!

This was the fourth foodwishes recipe I decided to try. I had some ground berkshire pork left over from my summer food share program, and decided to give it a go with some ground chuck, as suggested.

This was the first time I had made a roux in a pan (usually I'm making them for a sauce in a sauce pot) so I was initially concerned I could get a good enough "mix", but your "start slow" method for adding the beef broth worked perfectly.

The result? Equisite. Tender, soft, delicious meatballs, which I served alongside some pirogues (no sour cream needed, the sauce was excellent on both!)

Thank you so much for the recipe!

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Hi Chef,

I'll have ya know that I served this dish over some wide egg noodles yesterday and was rather pleased with the results. Not wowed mind ya, but pleased.

And I'll also have ya know that I resisted all temptation to trick it up with a good measure of adobo even though I be the boss of my own meatballs.

Even my finicky lady-friend didn't have much complain about.

Thanks!

Ed Adams said...

Chef John,

I'm making this tonight for my wife who has Italian and Swedish roots, but she normally dyes that out. After I had decided to make this, I told her and then she told me it was her little Grandma's specialty which means I have alot to live up to. No worries here though, I told her I have Chef John with me, LOL. Serving it over some egg noodles with the local "green cauliflower".

Thanks again.

Ed Adams said...

Chef, I just wanted to follow up and say I got the "These meatballs are great" seal of approval.

Ryan C said...

So...whats the story with the holy spatula? I have one exactly like and have wondered about it. Thought might be performance mod to stir faster.

Russell Lewis said...

Chef John,

Since you have turned both myself and a few friends into home made crème fraîche junkies, I have to ask if I can substitute crème fraîche for the heavy cream or will that alter the taste too much?

Thanks.

Chef John said...

Sounds good to me, but can't know how you'd like it vs. cream. Taste is too subjective to answer this. ;)

AliciaV said...

Chef John
I love your recipes- I tried both your pea and ham and potato soup- both have a real 'wow' factor. I am so impressed and dont be discouraged by the 'most underappreciated' statement that is just not true! Thank you, thank you and keep cookin'- cant wait to try this swedish meatball recipe!

foodflavorfascination said...

Hi Chef John,
Love this recipe and the video. Going to make it at my parents' house tomorrow as they are requesting it. I did a sort of kooky version of your recipe using eggnog in the meatballs and sauce. It was good :)

Lissie Smith said...

maybe y6ou should do a video for popeeecorn shrimpeyyy
look it up on youtube its hilarious

Amjim said...

I love you chef John! You are so funny and your videos are both entertaining and informative. Keep up the good work!

MelonMochi said...

THIS is amazing. YOU are amazing. Thank you for an enjoyable dinner, I love you Chef John!

beeble said...

Just had these for dinner. I innnnnnjoyed!

HD said...

I substituted ground turkey, chicken stock and strawberry preserves. This still turned out delicious! Thank you! :-)

Святослав Потапов said...

I did these with a couple subs - sorry... But they were AMAZING! Ridiculously GOOD. I did not heavy cream - I know it makes no sense but I used milk and a couple of tbsp s of sour cream. And I use home made broths, so all I had was chicken, sorry (I hate altering recipes, but I hope you are ok with that, LOL).... Anyway, too good, and so easy comfort food - my daughter loved these and so did the rest of the fam! Thank you; you always inspire!

jdddesigns said...

I have made this recipe 3 or 4 times and everyone in my family LOVES it...NOT an easy feat to please all of my kids. I serve it with bowtie pasta as my kids don't like potatoes. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

Didi Dalaba said...

I made these yesterday using only ground beef. The rest I followed as per your recipe. Can I honestly say these were the best SWEDISH MEATBALLS ever!!
Thank you! ♥

D Moore said...

I want to thank you for the phenom job you are doing with the videos and blog.

philogaia said...

I'm finally making this recipe today. Glad to see chicken stock will work okay because that is what I have. I'm stuck with ground dark meat turkey instead of pork so I think I will add some lard to the mix. I'm glad to see comments from folks (especially the Swedes!) that this is a good recipe. I trust CJ a lot but still glad to see normal folks finding the recipe works.

Regarding the holey wooden spoon, I have one of those things as well, it having come in a set. I had no idea either what that was for and it has largely lived in my drawer, neglected. CJ, your comment about how folks are always asking spurred me to hit the modern oracle, google, and check it out. So, turns out that hole is for specifically stirring risottos to get them to blend properly and also good for stirring batters. But it can also be used, as it is here, for a pokey stir-ey thing to make a sauce.

Elle Bella2011 said...

Made this wonderful dish tonight. The Swedish meatballs were tasty and the sauce is flavorful. Another great dish Chef John. I did check my Swedish aisle for the Lingonberry sauce, maybe next time.

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Chef John,
What do you think of bypassing the hassle of forming the meat mixture into balls and just forming the whole mixture into a meatloaf and cooking it as in your 'meatloaf w/mushroom gravy' recipe? It seems that this would streamline the prep time while giving one the same flavor. Am I off base?

Chef John said...

Sure, it would have the same flavor, and you don't have to roll meatballs, BUT I'm making a recipe like this because I want meatballs.

By that logic, meatballs should exist since you can always eat the same mixture cooked in a large mass.

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Chef John,
Thanks for your reply. My comment was just a thought between beers. I will try both methods. Good recipe. I have two jars of Lingonberry sauce ready to be used.

PerhapsToday said...

Chef John...what is the holy spatula story??? Found you on the all recipes website. Love, love your recipes and thank you for videos. Having fun learning to cook your recipes and my husband having fun eating your recipes. lol Thank you again. HaPpY NeW YeAr!!!!!!

PerhapsToday said...

By The Way: why a metal bowl? I don't have one, will glass work the same way?

Laura Harmon said...

If you don't have lingonberries, you can use cranberry sauce. It is sweet and tart and will go well with the creamy sauce.

Erin said...

Hello Chef John,
I have made these before with the lingonberry jam, and they were delicious! I would like to make these again for a party tomorrow night, but I work during the day. Would it matter if I bake the meatballs tonight, or form them and bake them tomorrow before the party? My bigger concern is the sauce. If I cook it tonight, will it reheat well without separating? Or should I make the sauce before the party? If these logistics are unreasonable, I can always make Italian-style meatballs with a red sauce instead.
Thanks!

PerhapsToday said...

Erin, in case Chef John doesn't answer you... I have made these and frozen them with the sauce and when I thawed and reheated it still tasted great. The sauce did look bad when thawed but went right back to creamy when reheated. Just be careful of scorching. Hope this helps. Have a great party. Merry Christmas.

rodentraiser said...

OK, this is a comment on a 4 year old post, but I'm gonna leave it anyway.

First off, these meatballs were delicious and this is my go to recipe for them.

Second, I had to mention this:

I just got a set of copper cookware (Craig's List find for less than $200) and I made the Swedish meatballs in the griddle pan because that was the largest one I had. Now I have a 20" stove and the griddle pan dwarfs the largest burner. So I was adjusting the pan to center it on the burner last night while I was making the meatballs, but I didn't stop to think that shifting a griddle with 1" sides was maybe something I shouldn't be doing when I had the griddle full of meatballs and gravy.

Yup, I sloshed the gravy down the side of the pan and all over the stove. However, I noticed later on when I was cleaning the pan off, where the gravy had spilled, it acted like a tarnish remover (apparently my pans could do with a little polishing).

Anyway, I thought if Chef John doesn't read this, maybe someone should tell him his gravy for the Swedish meatballs is also a copper cleaner. LOL

Jessica Malachowski said...

After seeing this recipe on youtube I knew I had to try it, but being lazy I didn't want to meatball the mixture and so made it meatloaf style instead. I also couldn't find my nutmeg or allspice so used mace. Very different flavors yes but it worked out very beautifully. I have now done several of your recipes and I always get great compliments for them!

Au3 said...

I have three comments on this.

1. Traditionally the Swedish meatballs are made with Elk meat, which is usually quite lean. Personally, I prefer to make them with beef though, but I am only an immigrant in Sweden.

2. I think you mixed up Swedish with Finnish, for Swedish uses a lot of swedified English (and German) words. Finnish is the crazy language with the many consonnants. :)

3. I never thought of doing meatballs in the oven, what a great way to save time, because you can make the sauce and potatoes at the same time. Will definitely try this variant.

Tarjei T. Jensen said...

Eeeeekk!

Your can'take substitute lingonberry jam with just any other jam. The jam or relish needs to be tart or sour.

E.g. green tomatoes or pickled fruit.

Kelly Ann said...

I have made this recipe a few times. I love it, and plan to make it many more times -- a tradition. The only thing I will change,is to double the gravy part; it seems like we always could use a little more.
Thank you so much, Chef John, for all the great recipes you've shared with us. You have made life better for so many -- really.