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Swedish Meatballs with Cranberry Relish


Recipe source: Fine Cooking | Dec 2015/Jan 2016
This version of the iconic Swedish dish incorporates milk-soaked bread to make the meatballs super tender. The traditional accompaniment, lingonberry jam, is tough to find in the U.S., so a quick cranberry relish stands in. Serve with buttered potatoes or egg noodles for a main course.
Note: Serves 12 as an appetizer.

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  • 4-1/2 oz. whole-wheat bread (about 3 slices), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 12 oz. ground beef (preferably 85% lean)
  • 12 oz. ground pork (preferably shoulder)
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill


Servings 6
Adapted from


Step 1

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, soak the bread in the milk until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix on low speed until uniform, about 30 seconds. Add the beef, pork, onion, and egg and mix on low speed until incorporated. Sprinkle in the allspice, nutmeg, 1-/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, increase the speed to medium, and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

2. Set a small bowl of cold water nearby and, occasionally moistening your hands, gently roll 1-1/2-oz. portions of the meat into balls; you should get about 25.

3. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. each of the butter and oil. When the butter is melted, add half of the meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

4. Pour off the fat, return the skillet to medium heat, and add the remaining 1 Tbs. each butter and oil. Add the flour, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Return the meatballs to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the meatballs cook through (160°F) and the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, ginger, and 1/4 tsp. salt until finely chopped. Add more sugar and salt to taste.

6. Transfer the meatballs to a serving bowl. Stir the herbs into the sauce, and pour over the meatballs. Serve with the cranberry relish on the side.

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