The secret ingredient to outstanding Swedish Meatballs (Kottbullar) is cherry wine in the gravy. Cherry Kijafa is a Danish wine produced in Finland that suits this purpose very nicely but is not always readily available in Florida. Fruit wines are a Scandinavian staple but Cherry Red from the Florida Orange Groves Inc. and Winery in St. Petersburg is the way to go to give Swedish Meatballs a Southern accent. Cherry Red is not as sweet or as heavy as Cherry Kijafa which is a fortified wine (Sherry added). As a beverage, Cherry Red can be used as a dinner accompaniment while Cherry Kijafa is more of an aperitif to be consumed before dinner to stimulate the appetite or after dinner as a dessert wine. Both wines are comparably priced between $15-$20 a bottle.
There are more variations of Swedish Meatball recipes than you can shake a stick at for two very practical reasons. 1. It was a dish designed to use up leftover meat. 2. Individual cooking and geographic preferences in northern vs. southern Sweden dictate some of the ingredients. It is like trying to pin down an absolute recipe for New England Clam Chowder. In clam chowder there will always be clams and in meatballs there will always be meat (or a reasonable facsimile like soy). Aside from that, it is going to depend on how each individual cook wants to make it.
Swedish Meatballs may be made in several types of gravy. Traditionally, Swedish Meatballs have the basic brown gravy made with cherry wine, red wine or sherry. Other alternatives to brown gravy are sour cream, white or Gjetost (cheese) sauces.
SWEDISH MEATBALLS WITH A SOUTHERN ACCENT
- 2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef (or may be combined with Ground Pork and/or Ground Turkey)
- 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (traditional recipes have bread crumbs instead)
- 2 Tbsp Minced Onion
- 3 Tbsp. Wheat Germ
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
Mix all ingredients. Shape into 1 1/2″ balls. Pan fry until meatballs are browned on all sides. Cover meatballs with Cherry Wine Brown Gravy (see below), cover pan, heat on low for 10 minutes. Serves 6.
CHERRY WINE BROWN GRAVY
- 2 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine
- 2-3 Tbsp. Flour or Corn Starch
- 2 cups Beef Broth/Stock
- 1/2 cup Cherry Red Wine
Heat butter in skillet over low heat until browned. Add flour/corn starch until well blended. Gradually stir in stock. Boil one minute. Add cherry wine.