Nearly every culture has a version of the meatball. And for good reason. It’s a quick and easy way to serve a crowd and its variations are endless. Two styles stand out here in America - Italian and Swedish.
In Italy, there’s no such thing as spaghetti and meatballs. Meatballs are served solo, giving them the full attention they well deserve. The advent of spaghetti and meatballs began when Italian immigrants came to the US and wanted to stretch their grocery dollars. Adding pasta and sauce to the meatballs enabled them to make their meat go further for the family. To this day, it’s one of America’s favorite meals.
Swedish meatballs (Köttbullar) came on the American scene a little bit later - in the 1950s and 60s when all things Scandinavian were all the rage. When IKEA came along in the 80s, Swedish meatballs spiked in popularity yet again because who doesn’t like to shop for furniture and eat meatballs? Swedish meatballs are also inherently a stand-alone dish and have remained so aside from the creamy bechamel sauce (Gräddsås) on top and the potatoes typically served alongside.
Meatball Making Tips
So what’s the key to making any type of meatball? Well, since 95% of your meatball is meat, best to start there. Grass Roots’ ground meats are premium quality, just like all of our pasture raised cuts. Going with one type of our ground meat will taste tremendous but mixing pork with beef, or chicken with pork, or pork with chicken, or even trying a trio will also produce stellar and more complex results. There’s not much you need to do aside from seasoning our meat and gently forming your meatballs. But here are some tips if you want to experiment a bit.
Create more moisture
Mix in pureed veggies:
Roughly chop some carrots, fennel, garlic and onion and add to a processor. Purée and fold in with your ground, adding salt and pepper to taste
Add an egg:
One egg can do wonders for binding your meat together and adding a bit of moisture
A couple tablespoons can add moisture and a tad of sweetness to your meatballs
Switch Up Your Seasonings
Italian - the usual suspects - try both fresh and dried basil, oregano, thyme and/or marjoram (dried is more intensely flavored than fresh so use less)
Swedish - ground allspice and nutmeg are traditional but feel free to experiment with allspice, cinnamon and even a little cumin
Freestyle - whatever spices you love are fair game here, from garam masala to jerk seasoning to simple salt and pepper