We all remember the meals we grew up on as children. One meal has always stood out in my mind. My mom has made Swedish Meatballs for as long as I can remember...they had such a distinct flavor that were so different than an Italian meatball. She served them on top of wide egg noodles with just the gravy they had been cooked in. They were simple, but delicious.
I called her recently to get her recipe to see if I could make a healthier Paleo version that's also Whole30 approved...while still keeping that delicious flavor that my mom had mastered. I decided to give it a try. I looked at some Paleo recipes online to see what people were using to make them healthier and started to make my plan...in looking at some other Paleo versions I noticed one big difference in my mom’s recipe, the amount of onion she used was way more. I thought maybe this was key...
In looking online, I noticed that everyone was comparing “good” Swedish Meatballs to the high standard of the IKEA Swedish Meatball! I must say, I have never had an IKEA Swedish Meatball as I don’t think I could bring myself to eat at IKEA. No offense to IKEA...from what I read they are the real deal.
So, I’m going into this with only the memory of my mom’s Swedish Meatballs as my guide... maybe one of these days I’ll be brave and taste the famous IKEA ones to see what all the hype is about.
When I told my husband I was making these, he did not jump for joy, to say the least. He’s not a huge fan. He said the ones he’s had were very bland... “Why would you have a Swedish Meatball when you could have an Italian Meatball??” I can see his point, but I was on a mission to see if I could recreate that tasty dish my mom used to make.
Well, I must say, it was a Paleo success! As they were cooking, the smell was right on. The taste ended up being right on too! I think my mom would approve.
- 1 pound ground meat - any grass fed, good quality ground meat. I used ground venison this time. Buffalo (Bison) would be great to try too...it is a great source of protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also traditional to use 1/2 pork, so if you choose....you can do that.
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 egg, beaten
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Ghee, for browning meatballs
1 Tbsp Arrowroot powder
1 cup hot water
fresh parsley for garnish, chopped
You will need a sauté pan to brown and cook the meatballs in. I use a large cast iron skillet.
Combine all ingredients, up through the salt and pepper, in a large bowl...the last 4 ingredients on the list will come later. Mix until well combined, but don’t over-mix. I use my hands for this part! It’s going to look like a lot of onions. It is, but they will cook down and give an amazing flavor.
Form 1 inch meatballs. I use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scoop, this works well to get them all the same size and is actually kind of fun to use and makes the process go faster. I place them on parchment paper and then use my hands to roll them into tight balls. I was able to make 42 meatballs out of this recipe.
Heat your pan over medium-high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon ghee to the pan and continue to add ghee as needed to coat the bottom as you brown the meatballs in small batches, don’t crowd the pan. I did about 10-14 at a time. Roll them around to brown all sides and set aside on a plate until all meatballs are browned. The first few meatballs I browned stuck a bit...and after that the pan was nicely coated and they didn’t stick...so I sacrificed my first few that fell apart a bit and ended up with 36 meatballs, still plenty:)
Using the same pan, add the Arrowroot powder and whisk around in the pan, grabbing all those yummy meatball drippings! Stirring, add the hot water to make a gravy. Mix well. It will thicken in time...
Add all of the meatballs back into the pan and carefully stir a bit to coat them with the gravy. Bring to a quick boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until cooked through, stirring occasionally. !
Like I said, my mom used to serve these over wide egg noodles, but I’m going for a Paleo-Friendly dish here, so....I served these over Garlic Mashed N’otatoes made out of cauliflower. If you're doing the Whole30, you could also make them with real potatoes because potatoes are Whole30 approved! These are really tasty that way...a great “meat and potato” taste combination! Serve with a good sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.
I was thrilled with how these turned out, they tasted like mom’s. One thing I noticed...these were even better the next day! My husband happened to be out of town the night I made these, so I served them to him the following night, leftover.
He thought they were delicious! That says a lot for the guy that doesn’t even care for Swedish Meatballs! When I tasted them that next night, they were even better...the flavors had a chance to really come together and enhance! I think I’ll make these a day ahead next time!!!
Maybe one of these days I will take a taste of the famous IKEA Swedish Meatball and close my eyes for a minute knowing that there is white flour, cream, and breadcrumbs galore. They also have a hefty 1172 calories per serving...I looked it up! I just like knowing what’s going in my body, ...so until then, I will definitely be making my recipe again, especially now that my husband is a fan!