I adore Swedish meatballs (köttbullar) with numerous recipes on offer and regional variations, they’re hearty, wholesome and truly delicious. Sadly, these days they’re often shop bought, with poor meat content and additives. The homemade version are so good and well worth the effort, trust me I have made them countless times for my children when they were growing up. A firm family favourite.
My mum’s tasty recipe is made with predominantly ground beef and a little pork, breadcrumbs and onion. Marvellous as they are I’m trying to limit the amount of beef I consume, so what’s the alternative?
In Sweden it’s now common to use elk, the country’s most famous game meat. Funnily enough you don’t find many elk roaming in the British countryside however venison does work equally well, widely available in supermarkets, farm shops and butchers.
Typically Swedish meatballs are served with lingonberries and lightly pickled cucumber. The lingonberries are steeped in a little sugar and known as rårörda lingon. You can buy the frozen berries in the UK from Scandi Kitchen or lingonberry jam is available from Ikea.
I’m breaking with tradition and teaming my meatballs with a lightly pickled cabbage salad, flavoured with warm, aromatic winter spices. *This needs to be made a day ahead of the meatballs.
This simple, delicious and comforting meal is easy to prepare and perfect to serve the family and friends.
Venison Swedish Meatballs with Pickled Red Cabbage
- 600 g Venison mince
- 220 g Pork mince
- 1 small onion
- 40 g butter
- 1 Tbls sunflower oil
- 6 Tbls Breadcrumbs, fresh
- 100 ml Double or whipping Cream
- 60 ml milk
- 1 ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp allspice
Pickled Red Cabbage
- 500 g red cabbage
- 1 medium beetroot raw
- 1 small red onion
- 45 g caster sugar
- 1 ½ Tbls sea salt fine
- 100 ml apple cider vinegar
- 150 ml water
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 3 juniper berries
- Begin by chopping the onion very finely, heat 15g butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and saute until soft but with no colour. Remove from the heat and cool. Put the pork and venison mince into a bowl, add the cooled onion, salt, a good grind of pepper and the allspice. Add the breadcrumbs, milk and cream and mix with your hand, the best tool for this job, don’t over work the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Now for the shaping, Swedish meatballs are small so I use a teaspoon and a wet hand to shape and roll them into a ball slightly bigger than a hazelnut in its shell, approximately 15g each to give you an idea.
- Preheat the oven 160C/gas 3.
- Heat the remaining butter and oil in a large heavy based frying pan over a medium heat and fry the meatballs until golden brown all over in batches, transfer them to an oven proof dish and cook them through in the oven for 10 minutes.
Pickled Red Cabbage
- Begin by slicing the red cabbage very finely either with a sharp knife of a mandolin. Place into a bowl and sprinkle over the salt, this may seem like a lot but you will be rinsing it off. Cover and set to one side for 2 hours.
- Peel and cut the beetroot into fine matchsticks, slice the red onion finely. Place into a non metallic bowl and combine.
- In the meantime pour the vinegar, sugar, water and spices into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
- Take the red cabbage and rinse under cold water in a colander thoroughly.￼￼ Add the cabbage to the beetroot mixture. Remove the spices from the cooled pickling liquor and pour over the vegetables. Stir thoroughly and place in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Check the pickled cabbage seasoning, add a good grind of pepper. Serve with the venison meatballs and creamy mashed potato.