Swedish meatballs with Seb Larsson

This Scandinavian dish is a big hit with the Sunderland man. Just leave out those tommies, OK?

Why should you eat Swedish meatballs?

“This is the Swedish dish that I guess most people know best. As a meal it’s easy to make,
it’s delicious, and it’s a bit different.

We had it all the time as kids, and it’s very traditional back home – we always eat it the same way.

More after the break

It’s not like an Italian dish – the sauce is nice and creamy. Tomatoes and meatballs should never be thrown together – no, no, no! I’ll never go for that.

The cheesy white sauce is more of a garnish than something you slop on the top. There are places in the UK where you can get hold of Swedish meatballs, so I get them myself sometimes and cook them at home. They’re good fuel for a game, or post-match.”

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1 large free-range egg
• 300g minced beef
• 150g minced pork
• 150g minced veal
• 100g dried breadcrumbs
• 4 tablespoons milk
• 1 tablespoon juice from
   tinned Abba anchovies (optional)
• ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• pinch of ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground
   black pepper
• 1½ teaspoons salt

How to make

• Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add pinches of salt and pepper.

• Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the minced beef, pork and veal, the breadcrumbs, milk, anchovy juice (if using), allspice, ground nutmeg, ginger, pepper and salt, and mix with your hands.

• Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers and fry until cooked.

• Form the mixture into about 18 balls each 5cm in diameter, packing each one firmly, and place them on the prepared baking tray.

• Bake for 18–20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through.

• Rest for 2 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam, cream sauce, sliced pickled cucumber and fresh dill.

High in quality protein, lean beef helps damaged muscles repair after exercise, and packs a powerful punch. It’s also a good source of iron and zinc, with grass-fed beef giving you a boost of healthy omega-3 fat.

Also a quality protein, pork provides B vitamins, essential for energy release. It’s also high in phosphorus and selenium, vital for your immune system. The two meats provide a great mix of vitamins and minerals.

High in carbohydrates, which are essential for fuelling up,  potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and have vitamin B6 and potassium. Cook with the skin on to retain nutrients.

Even though jam is high in sugar, small quantities can add flavour and help you fuel up. Common in Sweden, these berries are high in vitamin C and anthocyanins, which support the immune system.

Not massively nutrient-rich, but they contain glutamate, which makes savoury foods such as Marmite taste so delicious. Ingredients like this turn a recipe into a meal.

Nutritional information from sports nutritionist Julia Mainstone. Recipe by Jez Felwick, author of The Bowler’s Meatball Cookbook, published by Mitchell Beazley, www.thebowler.info

For more tips on nutrition see:
Yassa Poulet with Demba Ba

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