This is a super exciting day for my here at World Cup Dinners towers- I will be making an amazing Swedish Meatball Recipe which has been specially created by ‘the Bowler‘ himself- the incredible Jez Felwick– star of the UK food truck scene, and author of The Bowler’s Meatball Cookbook.
Inspired by Sweden’s amazing 3rd placed (yes, you read that right, 3rd!) showing at USA ’94 these balls are named after the Blågult’s dynamic duo at that tournament Tomas Brolin and Martin Dahlin!
I started the day by heading off to that most Swedish of stores- IKEA, to pick up a new dining table for the flat, and also some Lingonberry Jam for this recipe!
After the stale soccer served up at Italia ’90, USA ’94 presented a feast of football over an amazing American summer, and is definitely my top ever World Cup.
Sweden went in to the tournament with a bunch of outstanding players from the erratic Thomas Ravelli in goal and striker Kennett Anderson, but it was Thomas Brolin and Martin Dahlin who really made them tick.
Qualifying second in a tough group which contained Brazil, Russia, and Cameroon, they defeated Saudi Arabia 3-1 in the next round, before going on to defeat Romania on penalties in the quarter finals. The swedes eventually lost out against their group stage opponents Brazil, the schedule of games, and heat of the American summer proving too much as they went down 1-0 to a goal from Romario in the semi-final.
One match remained though, the third place playoff, where they signed off with a storming 4-0 victory against a brilliant Romania side with Brolin opening the scoring.
You can read a more indepth article on Sweden’s exploits at USA ’94 in this excellent article by Lawrence Ostlere:
Another dynamic duo are Jez’s Swedish godsons Sammy & Noel, who this recipe is dedicated to.
Jez says “I have great friends in Sweden so am lucky enough to regularly go to one of the meatball capitals of the World. There is a lot of discussion about what makes a traditional Swedish ‘köttbullar’. This recipe contains a gravy made with a slug of Swedish beer, so you can enjoy the rest as you watch the match!”
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4-6)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 large free-range egg
- 300g minced beef
- 300g minced pork
- 100g dried breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon Swedish Beer (Eriksberg is good) https://carlsberggroup.com/products/eriksberg/eriksberg-original/
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- a pinch of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground
- black pepper
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF), Gas Mark 7 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. At this stage, I would always add a few pinches of salt and grinds of pepper so the onions are seasoned from the start, meaning that you don’t have to add so much later.
- Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the minced beef and pork, onion, the breadcrumbs, milk, ale, allspice, ground nutmeg, ginger, pepper and salt and mix with your hands until well combined.
- Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers and fry until cooked. Taste to check the seasoning and add more if necessary. Form the mixture into about 18 balls each 5cm in diameter, packing each one firmly, and place them on the prepared baking tray.
- Bake for 18–20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through – the balls should begin to brown on the top. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t get burnt underneath. Let them rest for 2 minutes and they are good to go. Alternatively, brown the balls in olive oil or butter over a high heat for 8–10 minutes, then drop them into a pan of simmering Dahlin Gravyto finish cooking.
Traditionally, Swedish meatballs are served with boiled or mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam (if you can’t get hold of lingonberry, use cranberry), cream sauce, sliced pickled cucumber and fresh dill, but they taste great with almost anything.
Dahlin’s Gravy (Serves 4–6)
This is my take on the Swedish cream sauce that like the namesake goes particularly well with the Brolin’s Balls.
It uses a basic roux – a thickening agent made by combining flour and butter. You can make a batch and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, so it’s on hand for dropping into gravies and sauces.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 500ml beef stock
- 100ml Swedish Ale (or local equivalent)
- 1 tablespoon lingonberry jam, or cranberry jam (optional)
- 120ml double cream, or soured cream
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the butter in a large heavy-based pan, then add the flour and stir for 2 minutes to cook out the raw flour flavour, making a roux. Turn up the heat and add the lemon juice and the stock gradually, stirring constantly as you go, so the roux gets incorporated.
- Stir in the jam (if using), which will make the sauce go a creamy orange colour.
- Once the liquid reaches boiling point, turn the heat down and add the cream. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, uncovered, to reduce it until it thickens and will coat the back of a spoon.
- Add the chilled Brolin Balls to the sauce and cook with a lid on for 20 minutes, turning them until warmed through. If the sauce gets a little too thick, add more stock.
- Adjust the seasoning and serve.