Swedish meatballs have been a Christmas tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. We originate more or less from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, my father from the St. Paul side and my mother from the Minneapolis side. Thus, when I was doing my childhood growing-up in Michigan we would complete a cold, snowy 13 hour drive every year to Minnesota to celebrate the holidays. Christmas Eve was spent with my mother’s parents and Christmas Day with my father’s parents. It was fantastic! On Christmas Eve we had a huge feast with my maternal grandparents, which consisted of a honey glazed ham and the best Swedish meatballs known to man. That evening we would open presents from each other, and on Christmas morning, we'd open the presents Santa had left us in the night. Then, we would drive to St. Paul and have a succulent rib eye roast with all the trimmings and open the presents from each other and Santa, who liked us so much he also left gifts there.
It’s been about 25 years since we were able to partake in the Minnesota double Christmas feed (and double Santa visits). My mother’s parents moved to Tucson, I moved to Seattle and for a while we had to alternate Christmas visits between Minnesota and Arizona. I was blessed to have both sets of my grandparents in my life until my early thirties. Now I’m blessed that I still get to see my maternal grandmother every Christmas.
My parents have recently finished building what my mother has termed, ‘the home before the home’, a gorgeous house, designed by my father, in Asheville, NC. My grandma, who is almost 90 and fit as a fiddle, has now also relocated to the area. My brother lives 4 hours north in Raleigh, leaving me as the prodigal daughter on the other side of the pond. This would be an incredibly special Christmas as it would be the first one where all of us had been together in a few years. My parents would also get to be the Christmas hosts, which hadn't happened in decades. The recent years previous to this we spent Christmas, usually without my brother, at my grandmother's place in Tucson. The kitchen in her flat was quite small, so instead of making Swedish meatballs from scratch, we had been buying them from places like Trader Joe’s or Ikea. They were good, but nowhere near as scrumptious as the ones my grandmother made back in the day. This year my mother was pulling out all stops. We would have the homemade Swedish meatballs for Christmas Eve dinner along with all the other traditions we had observed when I was a child (except the double Santa visits).
On Christmas Eve my grandma arrived and she and my mother went into the kitchen. My mother took out the recipe my grandmother had given her years ago and said, “Look, mom, it’s your old Swedish meatball recipe.”
“Ahhh… you know where I got that?” asked my grandmother as she donned her apron.
“No, I don’t,” my mother admitted and waited anxiously to hear a story about how our family recipe had been handed down from previous generations of family in Sweden.
“From Playboy magazine,” my grandmother said nonchalantly, “Your father’s Playboy, of course. I didn’t make a habit of reading it.”
And so the delicious meatballs, which practically melt in your mouth, were made and consumed while we wondered aloud if the Playboy edition where the recipe had originated featured Swedish models that month.
And now (after some strong-arming from friends who wanted me to put the meatball recipe up here and with my mother's permission) here is the sexy Swedish Meatball recipe. (You are STILL not getting my brownie recipe, however.)
Tear 2 slices of stale bread in small chunks and soak in 1/2 cup of lite cream.
Peel a medium potato, cut into chunks and boil. When it's nice and soft force it through a strainer.
Chop one medium onion extremely fine.
Put the onion in the pan with 1 tbs butter and slowly sauté until onion is yellow.
Combine in deep bowl the breadbread, cream, potato onion, 1 beaten egg, 3/4 lb lean ground pork, 1/4 lb lean ground pork, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp pepper.
Mix very well (use your hands) until bread disappears.
Shape into 1 in balls.
Place in a shallow baking pan.
Bake at 475 (Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes, turning once until balls brown.
Melt 2 tbs butter in a large saucepan and stir in 2 tbs flour, blending well.
Gradually add 10 1/2 oz can consummé.
Turn to low and cook for 1/2 hour.
Stir in 1/4 cup cream.
Bring to boil, season to taste.