Everyday Swedish Meatball Stew


Real Stew

Published by Harvard Common Press

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Sweden in wintertime is snowy, white, and cold. A lot of activities take place indoors when the otherwise very outdoorsy Swedes are resting from this appetite-building cross-country skiing adventures. My friend and master Saab mechanic, Håken Wiberg, remembers fondly a stew his mother, and most Swedish mothers, would make during the winter when he was growing up outside Stockholm. It was called kottbullsgryta till vardags, which literally and simply means “meatball stew for every day.” The kind of crackers you want to use are plain, Swedish-style crackers (not crispbread), or substitute Carr’s plain water crackers. Swedish cooks often use cubes of concentrated beef bouillon when a recipe calls for bouillon.

Makes4 to 5 servings

Cooking Methodpan-frying, stewing



Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentfood processor



Taste and Texturemeaty, rich, savory


  • ½ cup crumbled crackers
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground beef (not more than 15 percent fat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups beef bouillon (homemade or from a concentrated cube) or canned low sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Soak the crackers for 10 minutes in the milk in a small bowl. Squeeze the milk out of the crackers. Place the egg in a food processor and run for 15 seconds. Add the crackers, beef, salt, and black and white pepper and process until pasty. Alternatively, everything can be mixed by hand in a bowl, but the meatballs will be more coarsely textured. Make as many meatballs, 1 inch in diameter, as you can. Set aside.

  2. In a large casserole or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs with the potatoes until light golden on all sides, about 4 minutes. Pour in the beef bouillon and season with salt and pepper and the paprika. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle with parsley 5 minutes before the stew is clone, and serve immediately.


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