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A Christmas Tradition Becomes a Lunchbox Staple

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February 18, 2016 / European / By
Katie Schenk

 

We spent Christmas Eve with “the Swedes”.

In my circle, that’s not being rude; we say, “the Swedes”, “the Americans”, “the Germans”… whatever because we tend to have a lot of international guests coming in and out… and generally everyone is connected to a central group of people from one country or another.

Also, by “we”, however, I don’t mean the kids – they were with their dad; I mean the small group of friends left in Joburg and, of course, “the Swedes”.

And we had a mostly traditional Swedish Christmas dinner with sausages, veggies, devilled eggs, saffron buns, and, of course Swedish meatballs.

Now, I’ve had Swedish meatballs before. Just about everyone that’s stepped foot inside of an IKEA has had a plate of meatballs. Sadly, though, we don’t have IKEA in South Africa, very few Swedes living here, and heaps of South African methods of preparing meatballs. So, it’s not as if I’m treated to Swedish meatballs terribly often.

As we gathered at my friend’s home on Christmas Eve and sipped on champagne, I could barely wait for the Swedish meatballs to land on the table. Sure, I wanted everything else (and certainly indulged to limits you can only truly reach during the holidays), but the meatballs were calling my name. I could see them in the warming oven and smell them whenever I entered the kitchen.

They did not disappoint (nor did anything else), and I left with glorious containers of leftovers to enjoy.

I also left with the recipe for the Swedish meatballs as made by “the Swedes”. And I knew, without a doubt, that I would be making them in the next week or two. After all, my favorite type of food to make requires plenty of steps spread over a long afternoon of fiddly cooking.

It took almost two weeks before I made the first batch of Swedish meatballs at home. And I thought I would have months of leftovers; there were just so many and I spent such a long time making them. But, I barely had any meatballs left two days later. We’ve all become addicted to them - truly and wildly addicted.

It’s now gotten to the point where I need to make a double batch (which really does take ages since Swedish meatballs need to be small). As soon as they cool, they’re wrapped into individual lunch containers and stacked in the freezer. They’re packed into lunches, they’re pulled out for a quick snack when nothing else will do, and half of them never even make it to a resting plate as they’re pulled from the pan and devoured quickly.

Swedish meatballs may just be the most important thing in my house at the moment. They seem to have surpassed the hobos and empanadas in terms of standing. Those are other foodie stories and other traditions, but it should tell you something about what’s in my freezer… and just how many people from different cultures that we entertain on a regular basis.

Swedish Meatballs for Every Occasion

  • 2 large Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 7 tablespoons (100 ml) Fresh (whipping) cream
  • 7 tablespoons (100 ml) Milk
  • 7 tablespoons (100 ml) Bread crumbs
  • 2¼ pounds (1 kg) Ground beef
  • 3 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 each Eggs
  • 1½  teaspoons Sugar
  • Pepper and mixed herbs, to taste
  • Butter, for frying

Preparation

Using 2 tablespoons butter, fry onions until soft, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

While onions are cooling, prepare breadcrumbs. Mix the cream, milk, and breadcrumbs in a bowl and leave to swell for about 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the ground beef and salt. Then add eggs, sugar, pepper, and mixed herbs. Once the onions have cooled, add them to the breadcrumbs and combine with the ground beef mixture. Finally, roll into small balls (a little smaller than golf balls to be authentic).

Then, in your largest frying pan, heat butter over a medium heat and fry the meatballs in batches until all of them are cooked. And, just try to save a few!

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Country: Sweden

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Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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