My Signature Gluten-Free Swedish Meatballs (Also Dairy-Free & Egg-Free)
August 23, 2020
In my 20s and early 30s, food allergies and sensitivities were something I was aware of in other people’s lives but something that I had little personal connection with. In recent years, however, we’ve uncovered a number of food sensitivities in my family–including myself. Thankfully none is extreme, but the knowledge has led to us shifting the way we eat in our home and limiting things like gluten, dairy, and eggs. With that in mind, I create a recipe for gluten-free Swedish meatballs–the ultimate in Scandinavian comfort food—that are also free from dairy and egg.
Gluten-free Swedish meatballs that are just as good as the original? YES!
Seasoned cooks will know that some sort of bread or flour, an egg or two, and milk are important elements of creating meatballs that are tender and yet hold their shape. So when a loved one was on an elimination diet, I set myself up for the challenge of creating a meal he could enjoy–despite the limitations. After all, I believe that food shouldn’t be stressful. Rather, it should be something that nourishes and nurtures us. If we have to restrict food categories at any point, it might as well be pleasurable and delicious in the meantime.
Prior to developing this recipe for gluten-free Swedish meatballs, I would have thought nothing of the bread, milk, or eggs present in many meatball recipes. Those ingredients help to combine and bind the ingredients, after all. While the Internet is full of ways to convert just about any component into anything one wants, I didn’t want to just create a serviceable substitute. I set out to create something superb, something that would be just as good as—if not better than—the original.
Now, the recipe that I created as a gift for a loved one is a gift to you as well.
My Signature Swedish Meatballs (no gluten, dairy, or eggs)
Recipe by Daytona Strong (www.outside-oslo.com)
This recipe uses higher-fat beef than I would otherwise use, as it has no eggs or breadcrumbs as typical binders. Also note that this “dairy-free” recipe calls for butter. Not all dairy-free diets restrict butter, but if yours does, feel free to swap it out as indicated in the ingredient list.
1/2poundground veal90%, 10%; substitute chicken for veal if desired
pinchground white pepper
For the brown sauce/gravy
2 1/2cupsbeef stock
3tablespoonsbutter or dairy-free butter substitute
a fewsprigsfresh thyme
1/2teaspoonsaltor to taste
Prepare the dried mushrooms: rinse then soak in a shallow dish with the room temperature water for about 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; reserving both mushrooms and broth. Chop mushrooms finely and set aside.
Heat butter or oil in a large pan and sauté onion until just beginning to color. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, mushrooms, and remaining meatball ingredients (saving the mushroom liquid for the sauce), mixing gently to incorporate everything without overworking. Chill for about 30 minutes.
When it’s time to form the meatballs, wet your hands and shape them into balls about an inch and a half in diameter.
Heat more butter in the pan over medium heat and pan fry the meatballs in a single layer, working in batches if necessary, until they’re brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and cover to keep warm while you make the sauce.
Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping the brown bits. Simmer for a minute, then add the beef stock, reserved mushroom water, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a medium pot, melt butter. Add potato starch a tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly, until smooth. Add the heated stock a little at a time, whisking all the while, until the sauce has the consistency of a good gravy and is still thick enough to coat the spoon. (It should be thin enough to consider a sauce but still have some viscosity left. Reserve any remaining broth, as it will come in handy when reheating leftovers.)
Season with salt, to taste.
Wipe out the pan you initially used to cook the meatballs and return the meatballs to the pan. Pour the sauce over them, stir gently to coat, then simmer until cooked through.
Serve with lingonberry jam, quick cucumbers, and dill-and-butter potatoes.
* The dried mushrooms (and 3⁄4 cup water) are optional, but I hope you’ll try them. While not exactly “traditional,” Magnus Nilsson writes in The Nordic Cookbook that people in Sweden sometimes add Chinese mushroom soy sauce, so my addition isn’t entirely unorthodox.
Keyword dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, Swedish
I’ll be honest, there’s A LOT of flour, butter, milk, and eggs in here (it is a baking book, after all!). But the recipes are labeled when they’re free of these, and many can be altered as needed. For example, the Savory Baked Pancake with Vegetables and Herbs (Ugnspannkaka) on page 36 turns out great with a gluten-free flour and unsweetened almond milk. The Apple Parfait (Tilslørte Bondepiker) on page 87 will work with any gluten-free breadcrumbs. The Kransekake (page 88) is naturally gluten-free if you use cornmeal instead of semolina for dusting the molds. The Almond Macaroons (Mandelbiskvier) and accompanying Chilled Blueberry Soup with Sweetened Crème Fraîche and Almonds on pages 102-103 are naturally gluten-free with no adjustments needed. And some of the other cookies are also naturally gluten-free, including the Raspberry-Filled Almond Cups (Hallongrotta)–which are a variation on what Americans know as “thumbprint cookies”–Grandma Agny’s Oatmeal Cookies (Bryte Havrekake) on page 107, Lacy Oat Cookies (Havreflarn) on page 118, and the No-Bake Chocolate Oat Balls (Chokladbollar) on page 119.
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