I always feel sorry for my vegetarian friends when we go to Ikea and they have to watch me chow down on a big plate of Swedish Meatballs with lingonberries while they pick at a salad. It’s bad enough that we know we have to try to find our way through the maze of a store and then face 26 hours of assembly time when we get home, but the one thing that makes all of that feel worthwhile IS my plate of Swedish Meatballs. There is something so comforting about a plate of creamy mashed potatoes supporting those spiced little meatballs drowning in a rich, creamy sauce, don’t you think?
I have been blending and extending my meatballs with finely chopped mushrooms for years but this time, I wanted to do a meatball without any meat at all and really let the mushrooms be the star. Using a bit of breadcrumb and bulgar with egg as a binder, they are a little bit delicate to work with but the rewards are worth it and you won’t even miss the meat when you taste this mushroom version.
Swedish Mushroom Meatballs
Prep Time: 25 mins. | Refrigeration Time: 2 hrs. | Cook Time: 25 mins. | Serves 4-6
1 tables olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tables butter
1 lb white mushrooms, finely chopped (by hand or pulse to a rough chop in a food processor)
3/4 cup bulgar wheat
1 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp allspice
20 grinds of black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
cooking spray oil for cooking
6 tbls butter (2 for the mushrooms and 4 for the sauce)
100 grams oyster mushrooms, roughly sliced
150 grams brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
pinch kosher salt
4 tbls flour
3 cups mushroom broth (I used Campbell’s but you can use any vegetable stock you have on hand)
1 tbls grainy mustard
1/4 cup 2% evaporated milk
a handful of parsley, chopped
optional garnish: chopped parsley, lingonberry preserves
1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft. Now melt the butter into the pan and add in the chopped mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they have released almost all of their liquid before you stir in the bulgar and mix well.
2. Remove the mushroom mixture to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature before you add in the bread crumbs, parsley and spices. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed and when it’s the way you like it, add in the beaten egg and mix until well combined.
Put the bowl in the fridge and let it sit for at least 2 hours - all day is even better.
3. When it’s time to cook, preheat the oven to 400F.
4. Remove the mushroom mixture from the fridge and start rolling out meatballs the size of small golfballs. I like to gently squeeze the mixture in my left palm and then move to my other hand, gently squeezing it back and forth until it’s nice and compacted and round. You should get about 27 balls or so.
5. Use spray oil on your baking tray and place the mushroom meatballs on the tray and spray the tops of the meatballs with a bit of the oil and bake them for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, using a spatula, gently roll them over - the odd one might need a gentle nudge if it’s sticking a bit. Put the pan back in the oven for another 5 minutes. When they are done, take them out and set them aside.
6. While the meatballs are baking, melt 2 tbls butter in a sauté pan and cook the mushrooms with a pinch of kosher salt until they are nice and brown and then remove them to a bowl and set aside. Melt the remaining 4 tables butter in the same pan and add the flour, cooking, stirring constantly, until the roux gets nice and brown. Slowly start streaming in the stock, whisking as you go to keep it nice and smooth. Once all of the stock is added in and you are sure there are no lumps, stir in the grainy mustard, let it come to a simmer and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the reserved mushrooms and any juices in the bowl and simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes. By now, it will be nice and thick so turn the heat off, stir in the evaporated milk and parsley, place the mushroom meatballs back in the pan with the sauce and leave it on the hot burner for a couple of minutes. To serve, put the meatballs on a bed of rice, noodles or mashed potatoes and cover in sauce.
7. You can scatter some more fresh parsley on if you like and if you really want the Ikea experience, serve them with some lingonberry preserves.
This is one vegetarian version that even meat-lovers can sink their teeth into! A big thanks to Carole for sharing such a drool-worthy dish.