Frikadeller (Danish Meatballs)

by New Idiom

Frikadeller take me right home.  These Danish meatballs are not smothered in tomato sauce like their Italian counterparts but are just as homey and offer something unique, which I attribute to the cloves.  If you are intimidated by or squeamish about making meatballs, get in the role by putting yourself in a “Little House on the Prairie goes to Denmark” episode.  It’s perfectly charming.  And I hope you enjoy.

With any luck and a bout of free time, you can try these meatballs at tomorrow’s International Dinner Party.


1 1/2 lb ground round (or what beef you prefer)
1/2 lb ground pork
1 grated onion (or finely chopped)
3-4 slices white bread with crusts removed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs (or just their whites at your preference)
milk or cream (to feel)

Take off your watch and any rings before you begin.

Set your bread in milk or cream to soften and set aside.  It need not swim in milk; just enough to soak up.

Grate your onion.  Admittedly, I only manage to grate a little more than half the onion because I do it by hand and I cry the whole time. Also, you can knick your fingers on the grater if you try to do the whole thing.  So finely chop what you don’t grate.  Or use a food processor if you have one.

Mix your meats — get in their with your hands, this is all the fun of making meatballs and the only way to do it right.

Add the onion and the bread to the meat mixture and mix well.

Add remaining ingredients.

Add milk or cream a little at a time, mixing as you go. This is a “feel” thing to develop with practice. You don’t want the mixture to be too stiff, nor do you want it “soupy”.  Remember, it’s okay to wing it  as you learn — every good cook does.

Refrigerate until the mixture stiffens again.  It will make the handling and cooking easier.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and heat fry pan to medium heat. Turn your fan on if you have one.

Form meatballs in your palms. I like to flatten them a little to speed up their cooking through without having to burn the outside.

Frikadeller_frying Fry the meatballs in a mixture of oil and butter.  Butter will burn faster, but it adds flavor so you don’t want to skip it entirely.  And vegetable oil is better than olive oil for this.  Fry until lightly browned on each side and cooked through.  This takes practice.  You may have to adjust the heat as you go.

My approach is to finish them off in the oven as I work through the batches. This helps to ensure they cook through but saves me from burning them.  Some browning or crust, however, is inevitable and delicious.

To serve:  I like to eat them with lingonberry jelly (available at the nearby Artisan Cellar in the Merchandise Mart) and homemade Danish pickles (Agurk Salate).  But plain is also most satisfying, with a side of new potatoes.

Leftovers: They’re great cold. My favorite is a sandwich with a little mayo and lingonberry jelly on toasted whole grain bread.  Think about freezing some in a ziplock bag