17 April 2012

Swedish Meatballs and Sweet Braised Cabbage and Cranberries

When I first married SB, I came to the our kitchen (and the marriage!) with a goodly number of recipes in my cache. Over the years, though, he has told me that he cannot get enough cabbage. The other day, I was browsing Diana Henry's cookbook, roast figs sugar snow - winter food to warm the soul, and came across a recipe for Swedish Meatballs. Now, I have a perfectly good recipe for Swedish Meatballs, but what got my attention was a side cranberry relish that Ms. Henry suggested would go beautifully with the dish. So... I took her suggestion and played with it a bit.

What follows is her recipe (with a few adaptations) for Swedish Meatballs and my recipe for Sweet Braised Cabbage with Cranberries. This meal was phenomenal. We had it for dinner last evening with a side of crispy roasted potatoes and glasses of deep red wine. To boot, I experimented with the bread that goes into the mince mixture for the meatballs. I used a gluten-free white bread that had gone a bit stale ... perfect! So ... I will say that the next time I have my dear friends Harold and Cathy to dinner, we will be having this meal. Can't be soon enough for me!

Make both these dishes. I promise you, you won't be disappointed! Really!

Sweet Braised Cabbage and Cranberries

Serves 3 - 4


1 small onion, sliced to thin ribbons
1 tbsp. butter
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 large handfuls dried cranberries
½ medium head of organic red cabbage, cored, and sliced to very thin ribbons
¼ c. orange blossom honey
¼ c. orange juice
fresh scallions and parsley for garnish

Making the Dish:

1. Melt the butter in a non-stick fry pan and add the onion. Sauté until the onion has wilted and is fragrant.

2. Add the zest of lemon, lemon juice, cranberries, and red cabbage and toss together. Continue to sauté until the cabbage begins to wilt. Toss in the honey and orange juice and stir to break up the honey and incorporate everything.

3. Lower the heat and place the pan on a heat diffuser. Cover and simmer for about twenty minutes or until the cabbage has the right 'bite' for you taste.

4. Turn the braised cabbage into a pretty bowl and sprinkle on some freshly chopped parsley and scallions. Serve piping hot.

Diana Henry's Swedish Meatballs - Gluten Free
an adapted recipe

Serves 4


2 tbsp. butter - divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground allspice
2 oz. gluten free white bread, crumbled in a small bowl
⅓ c. low-fat milk
1¼ lb. ground beef/pork mix
1 large egg
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1¼ c. beef broth (GF - check your product)
½ c. low-fat sour cream (Cabot products are GF)
2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh dill

Making the Dish:

1. Break up the bread in a small bowl and pour the milk over top, letting the milk soak the bread.

2. Place 1 tbsp. butter in a frypan and add the chopped onion. Sauté until it is wilted and golden.

3. Break the meat up and pop it into a deep bowl. Add the spices, egg, sautéed onion, zest and juice of lemon, and the bread crumbs.

4. Smash everything together to form a well incorporated mass. Form the meat mix into 12 large meatballs.

5. Heat the peanut oil in the same pan you used for the onions.  Lay the meatballs into the pan and let them brown on all sides, turning them gently to keep them intact.

6. When the meatballs have browned on all sides, remove them to a platter, wipe the pan out with paper towels and return it to the heat.

7. Add the last tablespoon of butter and melt it to a bubble.

8. Sprinkle on the cornstarch and stir to make a roux. Slowly pour on the beef broth, whisking to thicken the mix and break up any lumps.

9. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the sour cream and half the dill. Stir to make a smooth sauce.

10. Place the meatballs back in the pan with the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer very gently for 10 to 15 minutes.

11. Platter the meatballs, pour the sour cream sauce over top, and garnish with the other half of the dill.

12. Serve with roasted potatoes and braised cabbage immediately.


  1. The color of the cabbage is lovely. I also like that you served the meatball without egg noodles. I would never have thought of serving them any other way. The last time I had Swedish meatballs I bought them at IKEA. Yours are better I bet!!

  2. oh me and The Viking LOVE cabbage!!!... eat it all the time... I even planted 8 of them in the garden this year... cannot wait... love your recipe and I checked out the book, looks wonderful (as clearly illustrated by your cabbage here) x

  3. What a delicious and great looking meal! I enjoy red cabbage too! My favorite way is to slice it up, toss it in olive oil, a little S & P, wrapped in foil and roasted on the grill! It's delicious and has a wonderful nutty flavor!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I love Swedish meatballs and I never make them!


  4. Great looking dish there, Susan! And fresh herb is from your garden? RE: Meyer lemons, you can substitute it for the regular ones, though the flavor will be slightly different. :)


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