Danish Meatballs by Edward Stave Boitano
Clara Hyldahl Stave and
daughter Carol Virginia Stave
up eating meatballs but this was not due to having a grandmother
hailing from Italy. On the contrary, it was the result of having a Danish/Swedish
grandmother on my mothers side of the family. My Grandmother Stave
had a knack for making anything taste good. Im sure this had something
to do with raising six kids during the height of the Great Depression.
Her specialty was comfort food. She could make the cheapest roast from
the market as tender as butter. Her secret was to bake and baste for
sometimes up to 24 hours. Her mashed potatoes were a thing of wonder;
fortunately a culinary gift that was passed on to my mother -- of course,
doesnt everyones mother make the best mashed potatoes. My
favorite dish of hers, though, was her meatballs -- a legacy handled
down to her from her Danish ancestors.
A Bite of History
The meatball is an iconic food item known throughout
the world. The ancient Roman cookbook Apicius included many meatball-type
recipes, but today they are known in Italy as polpette. In Greece,
fried meatballs are called keftédes, usually served over
rice; while in Indonesia, meatballs are referred to as bakso,
used in soup. The other Scandinavian versions in Norway (gehaktbal)
and Sweden (köttbullar) are most often made with beef.
My grandmother's meatballs, known in Denmark as Frikadeller,
are made with pork, generally served with mashed potatoes and gravy
(which my grandmother referred to as the goodness.) I was
in comfort food heaven long before the term existed. On a recent trip
to Copenhagen, I couldnt wait to sample this sublime but simple
dish on its home ground. And sample I did; having them with mashed potatoes,
sliced on open-faced bread (smørrebrød), and even
carrying a bag around as a snack. Now I know why the Danes are reportedly
the happiest people on the globe.
Frikadeller are typically fried, and made out
of ground pork, onions, eggs, salt and pepper. They are then formed
into balls and flattened somewhat, so they are pan ready.
1 lb. ground pork
1 slice bread soaked in 1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. all spice
1/8 tsp. onion salt
Chop the onion into fine pieces, and mix meat and
Add egg and mix again.
Add flower, and remaining ingredients.
Form mix into 6-8 balls.
Melt butter on frying pan.
10 min. on each side medium heat.
Frikadeller can also be served with boiled skinned
potatoes with brown gravy, or with cold potato salad.
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I think we must have had an entirely different experience in
the UK. (Fresh Food and Real Ale week 1). We were up in Edinburgh and
they served something called Neeps & Tatties. The items were
boiled so long that I couldnt even recognize what I was eating. Come to
think of it I couldnt taste them either. Later I found that Neeps
are Turnips and Tatties are potatoes.
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Thanks for your note. Thanks to Traveling
Boy I get to interview a world famous chef this week who is widely recognized
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