Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Danish Frikadeller ~ Family Food Memories


As Mother's Day approaches, we all start thinking of motherhood and family, both of which are very important to me. Although my mother and father have passed away, my family now includes a wonderful husband,  two lovely grown daughters and two small grandsons that my husband and I adore. 

We all have memories of the food we ate while growing up and it's amazing how eating that food, years later, can transport us emotionally back to our childhood and thoughts of a mother's kitchen. I wanted to share a recipe from my childhood that most clearly stands out in my memory.


Since my ancestry is Danish with grandparents or great-grandparents from both sides of my family immigrating from Denmark, frikadeller were something that was a recurring dish on our family table. 


Paraphrasing from Wikipedia...Frikadeller are flat, pan-fried patties of minced meat, often compared to meatballs. Although there are many variations of frikadeller, they are usually made with a combination of of ground pork and beef (salted pork was a staple in early Danish kitchens).  They include chopped onions, eggs, milk (or water - sometimes selzer water), bread or bread crumbs, salt and pepper and sometimes allspice. They are made by forming the meat mixture into slightly flattened patties and pan-fried in pork or beef fat. Today, butter, margarine or vegetable oil are used for frying. Small patties would be made for lunch and larger ones for dinner. At dinner, they would be served with boiled white potatoes and gravy and accompanied by pickled beets or cooked red cabbage. Cold frikadeller and potato salad is a popular choice for picnics or potlucks and cold, thinly sliced fridadeller are also enjoyed as a traaditional Danish open faced sandwich on rye bread topped with pickles or red cabbage. 


They were an inexpensive and filling way to feed a family.  I remember my mother making a pan gravy from the browned bits in the frying pan after frying the frikadeller. 


Above, my mother with me in her arm, my big sister and my dad.  A crocheted tablecloth that my mother made as young wife before I was born, a craft I'm happy she taught to me.


When I became a mother, my two daughters grew up enjoying frikadeller often in our home as well. Made with love, as my mother made them.  I usually made them without gravy and my girls would eat them with ketchup on the side, along with a green vegetable and sauteed potatoes. Although mine were most often made with plain, lean ground sirloin, for this post, I decided to add the traditional ground pork and prepared some beets (pickled beets would also be a traditional side dish).  I made a pan gravy, like my mother's, which my husband really enjoyed. 


One of the best things about making a big batch of frikadeller is using the patties the following day to make Danish open-faced sandwiches! I found a very good substitute for Danish rye bread in this Sunflower rye by Rubeschager.  No need to go all Danish though, a good hamburger bun is fine :)


Frikadellers (My Mother's Way)
Printable Recipe

This is a simple and traditional recipe. Make them with love for your family.    

1 pound lean ground beef or a mixture of half ground beef and half ground pork (ground veal may also be used)
1 small onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 large slice hearty white bread, cut into small cubes - about 1 cup (day old is good but not necessary)
1/4 cup milk
Salt and Pepper to taste (feel free to add your favorite seasonings)
Pan Gravy - Recipe Below

Soak the cubed bread in milk for 5 minutes - do not drain.

Place the ground meat in a large bowl and add the soaked bread cubes along with any remaining milk.  Add the beaten egg, chopped onion, and salt and pepper and mix until blended. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to make handling easier.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add about two tablespoons of butter or vegetable oil to the pan.  

Form the beef mixture into patties with your hands. You can make them as small or large as you wish. Flatten slightly with your palms. Add to the preheated skillet and brown the patties well on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. After they are well browned, add some water to the pan (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup).  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, covered, for about 20-25 minutes.

You can make a gravy with the pan drippings and serve with boiled potatoes.

To make the pan gravy, remove the cooked frikadeller patties from the skillet, leaving the juices in the pan.  Place 1 heaping tablespoon of all purpose flour into a glass or small bowl.  Stir in about 1/2 cup of water, a little at a time, to the flour, mixing until smooth.  Add this to the pan juices and turn the heat to high.  Stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add a little more water, as needed if the gravy is too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the frikadellers.  Strain the gravy through a sieve, if necessary. 

36 comments:

  1. What a delicious and lovely memory! My mother and grandmother made a very similar meat pattie for us though they were English rather than Danish. To be honest, I'd forgotten about it until seeing and reading your post. I'm looking forward to preparing the dish and enjoying my own happy memory!! Love the photo of the family although you are too young to be seen--or enjoy an ice cream cone

    Best,
    Bonnie

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie! I think many countries have a version of ground meat patties that are made with the ingredients that were most plentiful to them. Happy memories :)

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  2. Wonderful, meaningful memories! Your mother must have been shielding you either from the sun or the ice cream cone. The Frikadeller sounds yummy and a lot like a meatloaf, Besides, there are times when I think I could enjoy responding to "what's for supper?" with that response.

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    1. Thank you, Vee! Yes, they are certainly very similar to meatloaf in my mother's version. They are yummy!

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  3. What great memories Susan. I made Frikadellers once for a post and loved them. But your recipe sounds really authentic. I love making food that my Mom made too. It is so neat to keep traditions going. My DIL is now making my Mom's chicken strip recipe and I am sure my Granddaughter will do the same. So nice that you have a connection with Patience Brewster.

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    1. Penny, I'm going to have to find that frikadellar post and also your mother's chicken strip recipe if you've posted it! Thank you!

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  4. What a lovely memories! I think every family have a recipe that remain in the deep of soul,these frikadeller seems a really comfort food ! A warm hug

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    1. Yes, it's true. No matter where we live, food is what brings a family together and makes memories. Thank you, Chiara!

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  5. My dear freind..
    Patience was right..is right..
    and..you have a touch of whimsy in things you collect..very much like her beautiful work.
    I think we always felt that affinity you and I..and our girls..and now our boys..
    I have known you so long..:) I remember you mentioning Frikadeller♥
    Your Danish genes are apparent..:)
    So pretty..parents etc..

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    1. So true, Monique♥ Many similarities in so many ways - the ties that bind :) Thank you so much!

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    2. But you type better than I do:)
      Right Freind?:)

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    3. Would you beleive I didn't even notice - LOL.

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  6. Don't know what sounds better, frikadeller and dinner with gravy or rye bread for lunch! Either way, I'll have extra pickled beets please:@)

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    1. All are great, Lynn! I'm with you on the pickled beets :)

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  7. I've been thinking a lot about my mother this week too. Both my parents have been gone for a long, long time. They missed so much. I am so happy you shared your memories - they are lovely. This dish is fascinating too as I had never heard of it. Thank you!

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    1. I'm sure we all will be thinking of our mothers this next week. I can't believe it's 10 years this month since I lost my mother! Thank you, Tricia!

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  8. You made me think of food memories from my childhood and it is the Swedish Kringle that mom made for us. I have never heard of your dish but I can see why it was special to you. Sweet post!

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    1. Danish kringle was always on hand in our home too, Debbie. Thank you :)

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  9. I agree food and the aroma of certain foods is like a time machine. How wonderful you have recipes passed down. Loved reading this post. Hugs!

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  10. I have a soft spot in my heart for Denmark. When I was 14, I spent a summer in Odense living with a Danish family. Truthfully I survived on frikadeller, but I don't think I've had them since.I also adored the polska and the baby shrimp smorrebrods! Can't wait to try these, Susan! I also heard from Patience. Pretty things.

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    1. What a wonderful experience, Abbe! I would have loved doing that. I also remember a sausage called medisterpolse and aebleskivers too :)

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  11. Susan thesde look anazing!
    And what lovely and nice memories! And love the picture where your mom have you in her arms:)

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    1. Thank you, Gloria! They are simple but delicious. I love that picture too :)

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  12. Wow Susan I just made meatballs using a beef-pork mixture, very much like the frikadeller. Your frikadeller looks so juicy and delicious!

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    1. It's a great combination, isn't it? Thank you, Jasline!

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  13. They are so popular among German too. My husband LOVES Frikadellen...he is not a fan of big steak, but those ground meat patties and eats them (and Cevapcici) almost every day.
    I love your herb planter..so cute!

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    1. And the name is so similar...fridadeller/fridadellen. I love Cavapcici too but it's hard to find unless you go to a Serbian restaurant. Thank you, Angie!

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  14. A traditional family favorite like fridadeller is always a treasured recipe to pass on to future generations, Susan! They sound very tasty!

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  15. Lovely post! They look delicious, and bring back a treasured memory for you. I know you miss your sister greatly. I love that bread. I buy it to spread braunsweiger pate on. Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen! Yes, I do miss her very much. I'm the only one left now! I think I need to get some liver sausage - great idea :)

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  16. A charming post! I am delighted to discover your Danish roots; I have Danish cousins (my dad's sister married a Dane and has been living in Denmark for the past 60 years). However, I dont know much about Danish food (other than the butter, rye bread, cold cuts and smoked fish), glad to widen my horizon!

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    1. Thank you, Joumana! It would be so interesting to know what food is your relatives like to eat!

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  17. Looks and sounds delicious Susan and great that you have family recipes to pass along.

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    1. Thank you, Larry! You're my first comment of May :)

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