Swedish meatballs can be a main course, but their small size is ideal for an appetizer, ready to be stabbed with a toothpick or picked up by hungry fingers. But if you’re not planning a festive smorgasbord in the near future, then just stash these meaty morsels in the fridge for middle of the week snacking.
The allspice and nutmeg seasoning in these Swedish meatballs is subtle, but enough to be noticed, and makes the dish taste different from your average meatball. Swedish meatballs are usually made with a blend of beef and pork, which you could certainly do, but they’re also really delicious made with ground bison. The small size of Swedish meatballs means they don’t need to be cooked long, which is perfect for bison, a type of meat that is most tender and juicy when served medium rare.
Why use bison? Bison is a great source of protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Bison aren’t mass-farmed and rarely treated with antibiotics and hormones. Ideally, buy bison that is labeled as 100% grass fed.
The cream sauce served with these meatballs is traditional (as is a dollop of lingonberry jam on the side) but not necessary if you don’t do dairy. There’s no question the sauce is delicious, but Swedish meatballs will disappear quickly without it too.
Servings: 22 small meatballs
Time in the Kitchen: 35 minutes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (30 g)
1/4 of a yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground meat (bison, or a mix of beef and pork) (450 g)
2 tablespoons water (30 ml)
1 egg, whisked
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2.5 ml)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (1.25 ml)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (1.25 ml)
1/8 teaspoon allspice (a pinch)
1/2 cup beef stock (120 ml)
1/2 cup heavy cream (120 ml)
Finely chopped fresh dill for garnish
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
By hand, very gently mix together the cooled onion, meat, water, egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Don’t over-mix the meat (which can make it tough). The blend will be loose and quite damp.
Gently form small meatballs, using about a tablespoon of meat for each. The meatballs will not be firm; this is okay, and means you will have tender, juicy meatballs. If you find the meat too hard to work with, then refrigerate it for 30 minutes to an hour. Wetting your hands with water can help the meat stick to your hands less.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and fry, turning after 4 minutes or when the bottom is browned and no longer sticking to the pan.
Cook for another 4 to 6 minutes.
If making the sauce, remove the meatballs from the pan. Add the stock and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, scraping up any bits of meat in the pan. If you want a smooth sauce, strain the stock then return it to the pan.
Add the cream to the stock and simmer gently until it reduces and thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the meatballs back to the pan for a few minutes before serving.