Paleo Swedish Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

After a couple of thunder and hail storms, it has finally cooled off here. We escaped to Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday, and I found myself wishing for a sweater and a mug of hot coffee. We were lucky enough to get up close and personal with an Elk! There are pictures at the bottom of this post but for now, these cooler temperatures mean that I am finally in the mood to talk about warm food again! As promised, this post is about Paleo Swedish Meatballs.

When you Google the origins of Swedish Meatballs, you don't find much in the way of answers. What you do find is a lot of people talking about IKEA, and how they've discovered the furniture store's famous recipe. In truth, I've never stepped foot into an IKEA, and so when I hear this I furrow my brow and wonder how a furniture store ended up so famous for beef and gravy. Anyone with me? 

Since I haven't been to IKEA, I guess I can't really judge. My own memories of Swedish Meatballs don't make much more sense anyways (they include a lot of Costco and have nothing to do with Sweden). This is why I found myself searching for answers. Why are they Swedish? While I consider myself a perfectly competent search-engine-maneuverer, I can't say I came back with many answers. It does seem that in some  parts of Sweden, some meatballs are served in gravy. Unlike French Fries, maybe Swedish Meatballs do have an origin-appropriate name. I never really got to the bottom of the issue, because at that point I just gave in and decided it was time to eat. Maybe that's what French Fries and Swedish Meatballs have in common: they're just too dang delicious for anyone to really care what they're named. 

Serve them over a pile of mash potatoes or on toothpicks as an appetizer. Swedish or not, there's something about gravy that just hits the spot.  

(The slideshow below is from Rocky Mountain National Park. Recipe for Swedish Meatballs is under that!)

Paleo Swedish Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground beef

1/4 white onion, chopped fine

2 tablespoon parsley, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon mace (nutmeg)

For the gravy;

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

2 cups bone broth

2 tablespoon arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon cold water

1 cup almond milk (or other dairy alternative)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parsley for garnish


1. Place the first five ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl. Grind the spices, and add them to the meat mixture. Thoroughly mix the meat until all of the ingredients are combined.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Form 1-inch balls with the meat mixture, placing them in the hot skillet. (I did this in two batches). Cook the meatballs until they are a deep brown on the bottom, and turn them, cooking the opposite side until brown. Remove cooked meatballs from skillet and set aside.

For gravy:

1. Using the same skillet that had the meatballs (the meatball drippings should still be in the skillet), sautee the mushrooms. 

2. Once the mushroom have a nice sear, turn the heat to medium and pour the broth into the pan. Scrape the pan to get the flavor of the meatballs incorporated into the gravy. The broth should begin to simmer.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the arrowroot powder into 1 tablespoon cold water. Add the mixture to the skillet. Pour in the almond milk, and add the salt and pepper. Allow the gravy to simmer for at least 5 more minutes, until it begins to thicken. Add the meatballs back in. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, coaking each meatball in gravy. 

4. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. Great on their own as an appetizer but a good main dish when served also good over mash sweet potatoes, cauliflower mashers, and/or simple steamed kale. 

Yields 25 small meatballs, roughly one skillet.