Swedish meatballs, or “kottbullar,” are a traditional Swedish dish – That doesn’t originate from Sweden. While that statement may seem preposterous, it’s the truth. Swedish culinary authorities admit that the recipe hails from Turkey. King Charles XII loved the recipe so much that he brought it home from Turkey in the early part of the 18th century.
Swedish meatballs differ from traditional Italian meatballs – the two recipes yield entirely different results in the kitchen and on the dinner table. Italian meatballs are roughly the size of a tennis ball and come with a rich tomato-based gravy. Swedish meatballs are about the size of a ping-pong ball, served with a creamy-style sauce.
What makes the perfect kottbullar?
The recipe for Swedish meatballs doesn’t have much variation much from its original format. There are roughly 17-ingredients that go into the preparation of this dish, and that hasn’t changed for nearly 300-years. Here’s what you need to buy at the market to make a flavorful and delicious batch of Swedish meatballs.
1. Ground Beef, Pork, and Veal
Let’s start your recipe guide with the meat of the matter. Swedish meatballs are typically a blend of ground beef and pork, compressed together in a mixing bowl with other ingredients on this list. Some recipes include the use of ground veal. However, many people find they have an ethical issue with consuming controversial meat like veal, so use in the meatball mix dropped off as a favorite ingredient.
The ground pork and beef share an equal ratio in the meat mix for this dish. The result is a balanced taste with more flavor than you would expect to find in traditional Italian meatballs that use a blend of beef, pork, and veal as well, but with more emphasis placed on using ground beef in the meatball recipe.
We recommend that you source grass-fed beef and free-range pork for your meatballs. Grass-fed and free-range animals lead better lives up until their slaughter. They range in fields and receive a diet of natural food, and as a result, the meat tastes better than that of factory-farmed animals.