Are you familiar with the concept of hygge? Pronounced hoo-ga, it’s all over (social) media right now but it’s long been a way of living in Denmark and for anyone who feels glum in the winter months or is struggling with something personal, it is a cheering concept of cosiness and wellbeing with a heavy emphasis on gratitude for we have right now which helps you find the light when the skies are grey.
Don’t torture yourself with what if’s and maybe’s, instead focus on what you have right now. Light some candles, pull a cosy blanky up over you and get cuddled up on the couch with the one or ones you love. Share good food and drink that glass of wine and most of all, live in the moment.
Talking of good food worth sharing, we may need to hop over to Sweden from Denmark for this recipe but nevertheless, the concept exists within other Scandinavian countries and it is even making it’s way around the UK right now, these Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs are just the thing you need for a hyggelig night in. Go pull on your favourite slipper socks and pour a glass of wine and I’ll tell you how to make them.
It might take a while to prepare but if you shape the meatballs and leave them in the fridge overnight, these meatballs are a relaxingly hygge affair to make as well as eat. Even if you aren’t one of the growing numbers to have two Instant Pots and have to keep your nutmeg seasoned mashed potato warm in a low oven whilst you cook the meatballs, it’s still considerably easier than driving out of your city to the nearest IKEA to pick up with the wherewithal from their freezer or just eat them in their café!
Hungry Hubby despises IKEA with a passion (he’d rather stay home and do all the chore than go with me!) but like so many, the meatballs can make up for a trip to hell and back lol. Thing is, I find the idea of those Swedish meatballs so much better than the actual eating of them – such is the way with clever marketing that includes a store design which traps you in until you are weak with hunger then lures you in with giant posters of huge big meatballs with ladles of glossy gravy and that little crimson splodge of lingonberry jam…
For my recipe, I blend pork and beef together and use a tip an Italian friend taught me years ago to always use fresh bread crumbs and to add water to the mixture as you massage and shape the meat. It makes the world of a difference to the texture, put your breadcrumbs away! I like to flavour mine with a little allspice and some caraway seeds which always make me think of Scandinavian rye breads.
The gravy is reassuringly simple made with a little beef stock and double cream for a simple but flavourful sauce. You can season with a little Worcestershire sauce if you like and note the depth of colour will be dictated by the stock you use but it will still be tasty even if it is pale. I finish the dish with the delicate aniseed perfumed herb dill and I think it ties all the flavours together wonderfully. I do draw the line and buy a jar of lingonberry jam rather than attempt to source the berries myself mind you. All in all, I can’t think of a better way than to invoke a feeling of warm cosiness than with a bowlful of my Swedish Meatballs.
- 4 large floury potatoes peeled and cut into 1.5" sized cubes
- 125 ml milk
- A good grating of fresh nutmeg 20 scratchings on a plane or fine grater should do it
- Salt and pepper to season
- 500 g steak mince*
- 500 g pork mince *
- 2 thick slices of bread**
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- Sea salt & black pepper
- 60 ml water
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 250 ml beef stock***
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 125 ml single cream
- 1 tbsp fresh dill chopped
- Lingonberry jam to serve
Preheat the oven to low (about 100-120˚C) so you can keep the mash warm as you finish the sausages.
Start with the the mash. Place the potatoes and 250ml water into your Instant Pot. Put the lid on, set the vent to "sealing" and give it 4 minutes on Manual.
When the alarm goes off do a Quick Pressure Release and allow the potatoes to steam briefly in a colander.
Mix the milk, nutmeg and seasoning into a bowl then rice or mash the potatoes with a masher into the milk. Scrape into a buttered oven proof dish and top with a little knob of butter extra then covered tightly with foil and transfer to the oven to keep warm.
To make the meatballs, mix together all of the ingredients apart from the water, which you should add gradually, massaging the meat with your hands as you go to mix and combine it. The water should be fully absorbed into the mixture. Roll into meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter (you'll get about 45 from this amount).
Set the Instant Pot to Sauté and add the oil. Brown the meatballs in 3 batches - I am lazy and just get one side well browned before removing them to a bowl whilst I complete the rest. Top Tip - I add a tbsp of water when the meatballs are ready to come out and it helps release them (they can stick to the stainless steel a little but this is a great trick).
When all of the meatballs are browned, turn off the Sauté mode and return all of them to the pot. Add the stock and put the lid on, set it to Sealing and program in 14 minutes on Manual.
Quick Pressure Release when timer up.
Remove the meatballs to a warmed plate/bowl and turn Sauté on one last time - take a spoonful of the stock out and mix with the cornflour before whisking it all into the hot, bubbling stock. Whisk continuously and add the cream. Cook for a few minutes until thickened to your liking and then serve the meatballs over the mash garnished with the dill. Serve the lingonberry jam on the side.
*= I use 10% fat steak and pork mince - if you are using lean meat then add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the meatball mix itself.
**= I use fresh bread that I shred in the food processor to a fine crumb. You can do it by hand but you'd need a very sharp knife to chop it fine enough.
***= you can use fresh stock or a stock cube reconstituted for this. I use half a Low Salt Beef Stock Cube by Kallo for this amount of meatballs. Just be mindful of how salty your stock is and adjust seasoning of the meatballs themselves accordingly.
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