This is the time of year when the Holidays seem to occupy many of our daily thoughts. From preparation, to excitement, to traditional meal plans, the Holidays are always special. They provide so many great memories. Many of the recipes are “classics.” We tend to repeat them every year. When growing up holiday parties were often “pot luck” events where everyone brought a dish – usually an appetizer. Tonight, we decided on our low-carb version of a “classic” party appetizer . . . Swedish Meatballs! Our recipe is creamy, rich, and so flavorful – it is perfect for your next holiday party!
In Sweden, you would find “Svenska Köttbullar” on buffets, smorgasbords, and certainly at most every Christmas or Easter dinner. Although we have never been to that beautiful country, our understanding is the meatball is still a classic. If you ask people about Swedish food they would invariably mention Swedish meatballs. It is traditionally served with Lingonberry Jam and potatoes. In the United States Swedish meatballs are often served with buttered noodles or rice. As a main meal you should consider serving the meatballs and delicious gravy over zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice.
Swedish meatballs were really the “go to” appetizer in the 1950s and 1960s. With the advent of the “crock pot” or slow cooker, they became even more in vogue as they could be served warm throughout a party evening. Isn’t it time to bring back a classic? We think so – and it is very low in carbs if made correctly.
Ingredients and Cooking Tips
Traditionally the meatballs would contain a combination of ground beef and ground pork. We have seen recipes on the Internet that use ground chicken or turkey, instead. The latter would go well with the Lingonberry Jam (think of turkey and cranberries). However, for our delectable meatballs we decided on just ground beef. We used our usual 80-20 blend. They will pick up more flavor from the gravy and if allowed to stay in a warm gravy bath throughout the evening they will soften and be very moist.
Swedish meatballs should have a bit more spice than regular Italian meatballs. Or, at least a different blend of spice. That distinct flavor comes from a combination of All Spice, nutmeg, and Worcestershire sauce. We added garlic powder to our recipe simply because we have a difficult time making anything without garlic, especially a meatball. If you want to stay authentic you can skip the garlic powder.
Make sure your onion is very finely chopped since the meatballs should be on the small side and you do not want large pieces of onion. We make our meatballs about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. A perfect one-bite size is preferable. Make sure you cook them in your sauté pan over medium to low heat, turning often. You want a nice crust on the outside and done in the middle.
One tip would be to make sure you deglaze the pan after cooking the meatballs to get all of the brown bits melded into the gravy. We added our sherry first after removing the meatballs to deglaze the pan.
Most recipes call for making a roux for the gravy with flour and butter. We substituted cream cheese and heavy cream to thicken our gravy. Stirring often after adding the gravy ingredients will cause your gravy to thicken. It will thicken more when removed from the burner and as it cools. You can see that we like our gravy very thick and creamy. Use extra beef stock if you prefer a thinner gravy. Also, taste your gravy when it is near completion. You may want to add a bit more Dijon mustard for added tang – make sure it is to your taste.
We tried to stick with Swedish colors for our presentation, but regardless of where you are located you can enjoy this classic Swedish meatball appetizer. A simple garnish of chopped parsley will finish your dish. Serve them hot and watch how quickly they disappear this holiday. The best part is each serving of four meatballs will have 2 carbs – the perfect Tasty Low Carb appetizer!
- 1 1/2 pounds Ground beef (80-20 blend)
- 4 ounces Onion (finely chopped)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tablespoons Heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Parsley (chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon All spice
- 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/8 teaspoon Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Chicharrones (crumbs, as needed)
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil (extra virgin)
- Combine all meatball ingredients in a medium bowl (except the butter). Mix well.
- Roll into 30 small meatballs. In a large skillet melt the butter and olive oil on medium heat and then add the meatballs. Brown on each side and cook throughout (about 8 minutes) for a nice crust. Transfer to a bowl and cover with foil.
- In the same skillet add the sherry to deglaze the pan (scrape the meat bits). Stir in the beef broth, then the softened cream cheese and heavy cream. Stir until combined and cream cheese is melted. About 3 minutes.
- Next, add the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Simmer until the gravy first begins to thicken then remove from the heat. Approximately 7 - 10 minutes total cooking time.
- Add the meatballs back to the skillet and simmer for another 2 minutes to heat. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot as an appetizer or over cooked zucchini noodles or cooked cauliflower rice.