Kottbullar are known all over the world as Swedish meatballs.
The traditional way to prepare kottbullar is köttbullar med gräddsås or meatballs with cream sauce.
The traditional side dishes served with kottbullar include pressgurka (pressed cucumber), rårörda lingon (lingonberry sauce) and potatismos (mashed potatoes). The Swedish meatball recipe can be served with boiled potatoes or egg noodles as well.
What is the origin of kottbullar, the Swedish meatballs?
Swedish meatballs or köttbullar are thought to have been brought to Sweden by King Charles XII after his exile in Istanbul in 1713. Meatballs and kebabs have long been a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and have been featured on 196 flavors numerous times, including in recipes for Iran’s chelo kebab, Pakistan’s koftas, Australia’s rissoles, cevapi from the Balkans or Romania’s chifteles.
The Swedish word for meatball, köttbullar, first appeared in Swedish print a few decades later in Cajsa Warg’s 1754 cookbook. Anna Christina Warg, better known as Cajsa Warg, is one of the most famous cooks in Swedish history.
How to make köttbullar
Köttbullar are traditionally made with pork or beef, a combination of both, and sometimes include veal as well. Swedish meatballs are usually served at buffets and smorgasbords. They were highly prized as beef was considered a luxury ingredient at the time.
They became popular in the United States after the immigration of Scandinavians to the northern Midwest States in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. During that period, more than 1.3 million Swedes migrated to the US.
IKEA’s infamous Swedish meatball recipe
You can easily find lingonberry jam or sauce at IKEA but I was able to find it closer to my home at Cost Plus World Market. As for the pressgurka (pressed cucumber), this was the perfect side to the kottbullar and lingonberry sauce, providing some crunch, saltiness and acidity to the sweet and creaminess of the rest of the dish.
The end result is a very tasty, colorful, attractive and festive meal.
- 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons milk
- ½ lb ground pork
- ½ lb ground beef (or ground veal, or both)
- 3 tablespoons grated onion
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- 4 whole allspice , crushed
- White pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for frying)
- 1¼ cup beef stock
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch , dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons of milk. Leave the breadcrumbs to absorb the milk for about 5 minutes.
- Add the ground meat, grated onion, egg, allspice salt and white pepper to the bowl. Mix until everything is combined.
- Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it until it is round. Rinse your hands in cold water if the mixture is too sticky. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture, by which time you should have between 25 and 30 meatballs.
- Heat a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat.
- Fry half the meatballs, shaking the pan frequently as you add them.
- When they are browned, turn down the heat and cook for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep warm.
- Add another tablespoon of butter and fry the remaining meatballs in the same way.
- When the meatballs are cooked, remove them from the pan.
- Add the stock and cornstarch mixture to the pan.
- Stir thoroughly and then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce, salt, black pepper and cream. Heat for a couple more minutes, stirring continuously.
- Serve the meatballs with lingonberries or lingonberry jam, mashed potatoes, pressed cucumber and a light coating of the creamy gravy sauce.