A regular dish in our home is the meatball of my heritage. Frikadeller.
In Denmark, frikadeller is their national meat dish. These lightly seasoned, tender, juicy meatballs are traditionally eaten with braised red cabbage, rye bread, pickled cucumber salad and often pickled beets and gherkins. Sometimes they are served with potatoes too – boiled with a brown sauce (gravy), roasted or potato salad are quite common choices.
I also like Asier pickles with frikadeller.
When I don’t have homemade on hand, I like the Beauvais brand. They also make a good pickled beet. Both can be sourced at the Hansen’s Danish Pastry Shop in Toronto at 1017 Pape Avenue.
A proper meatball recipe takes time to prepare. Although it appears to be the food of peasants, there are many important culinary tricks to ensure the best texture, flavour and presentation.
My preference for the meat base is an equal combination of veal and pork.
The frikadeller is flavoured well with minced onion (I prefer minced over finely chopped), and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Although not considered traditional by some, I like to add a bit of nutmeg too.
The binding is a blend of flour, egg and whole milk. Some recipes call for water, but I enjoy the richness of milk and will use homo milk if I have it on hand.
It is important that once the ingredients have been pulled together, the mixture sits a while for the flavours to develop and marry. I usually plan on a good hour in the refrigerator.
As I laboured over making the perfect frikadeller, it dawned on me that my multicultural friends each have their own version of the meatball.
Finland – lihapullat
Albania – qofte të fërguara
Greece – keftedes
Belgium – ballekes
Austria – fleischlaibchen
Iran – kal-e gonjeshki
Indonesia – bakso
Netherlands – gehaktbal
Norway – kjøttkaker
Sweden – köttbullar
Denmark – frikadeller
United States – meatball
Lebanon – kafta
Spain – albondigas
and on and on the list goes.
My mind wanders and I am picturing the delegates sitting in the General Assembly of the United Nations. And instead of the name of their country on the front of their desks, there stands the name of their meatball. Wouldn’t everyone be a bit more relaxed? Although they all have different names and are seasoned to a particular native culinary rule of law, deep down inside they are all the same.
Really, could the simple meatball bring about world peace?
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 small onions, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk, approximately
1/3 cup butter for frying
In bowl, combine pork, veal, flour, onions, salt, pepper and nutmeg; mix lightly. Stir in eggs and milk until well mixed. (Mixture should be quite moist; add more milk if necessary.) Let mixture stand for at least an 1 hour to let flour absorb milk.
Using a dessert spoon, shape meat to be a bit larger than an extra large egg. They flatten out a bit as they cook. In skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add meatballs and cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until no longer pink inside meatballs.
Serve meatballs hot or warm in chafing dish or warmed serving bowl. Makes approximately 20 meatballs.
I often make a double batch and freeze the meatballs. I find that they reheat well in my microwave laid out on a plate and covered with a sheet of wax paper to contain the spatter. My microwave has a ‘Reheat’ button. Works like a charm.