Sometimes I go to IKEA just because I’m hungry for Swedish Meatballs. Yes, it’s true!
Do you remember the first time you ate them?
My first IKEA experience was back in the spring of 1999, when I was living near my sister and her husband in Illinois. I was newly engaged to my extra-tall (he’s 6′-7″), dark, and handsome Blake, and we were planning our wedding for later that same fall. The ceremony was set to take place outdoors, on my parents’ farm in South Dakota. A small intimate immediate-family-only wedding, with more family and friends invited to celebrate after the ceremony. It was to be casual to the core, with picnic tables, a pig roast, and dancing to a dj’s tunes in the garage.
My vision for the evening’s reception included tiki torches lit along the length of the driveway, with twinkle lights strung overhead in the garage and zig zagging through the front yard’s autumn tree limbs. There would be galvanized lanterns hanging from the trees, too, illuminated by simple white tea lights. (Little did we know our day would actually consist of pouring down rain!) My sister suggested we visit the nearby IKEA in Schaumburg (IL), to pick up all the goods to make our wedding plans happen. And that’s when Blake and I came face to face with the famous Swedish meatballs of IKEA…
Blake and I moved to Minnesota after we were married, and lucky for us, an IKEA opened up here just a few years later. And while we continue to enjoy both the shopping and the meatballs at our local store, I also wanted to be able to create that meal at home. Over the years, I’ve tried a few recipes for Swedish meatballs. Some came close to IKEA fame. Others fell drastically short. But this recipe, right here, is one that I’ll hold onto for sure.
The meatballs are small and perfectly tender and flavorful. And the rich and creamy gravy, poured over whippy mashed potatoes, is whisked up from scratch…oh so worthy of licking your plate for. But the really beautiful part? A big spoonful of lingonberry jam, with all its contrast in tartness and hue. It makes our IKEA meal replication at home complete.
- 1-1/4 c. breadcrumbs
- 3 c. low sodium beef stock, divided
- 4 T. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 c. minced onion
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 T. soy sauce, divided
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Mix breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup beef stock in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until completely soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer onion to a large bowl.
Add beef, pork, eggs, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, black pepper, sugar, allspice, and nutmeg to the bowl with onion mixture, mixing with your hands to blend. Fold in breadcrumb mixture. Using a 1 tablespoon measure, roll meat mixture into balls and then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
Using the same skillet (no need to wash it, just wipe it out with a paper towel), place it over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter. Working in 3 batches and adding 1 tablespoon of butter between batches, brown meatballs on all sides, about 8-10 minutes per batch. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from skillet. Whisk in flour until a smooth paste forms, and the paste is lightly browned. Stir in remaining 2-1/2 cups beef stock and turn the heat up just a bit, to medium. Bring beef stock to a simmer, whisking often. Add sour cream, Worcestershire, and remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and whisk to incorporate. Return meatballs to pot. Cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked and everything is nice and hot, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir gently to coat meatballs. Serve with fluffy mashed potatoes and lingonberry preserves.
Very heavily adapted from bon appetit magazine, September 2011.