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Frikadeller – Denmark National Dish – Day 84/Dish 49

April 10, 2010

I love being in Europe.  I love the history and the architecture.  I enjoy the wholesome food and great spirits.  I like the music and the fashion.  The languages are like the hum of millions of birds and insects, each one entirely distinct, that become a pleasing roar.  And I like the fact that if you wake up in the Czech Republic and feel like heading to, oh, I don’t know…..Denmark, that you can do it that very same day by train for a small fare.  That is my type of lifestyle.  On that note, we are going to explore the European countryside by train to get to Denmark, our next country.

Europe invested heavily in train technology not only to move goods, but also to move people.  In this way they have surpassed anything the US has devised.  The United States has built one of the largest freight moving systems in the world, but has limited human transport.  Amtrak does provide connections to many cities, but is not nearly as convenient, fast or inexpensive as the European rail lines that seem to be everywhere throughout the EU.    If you so choose, you can get on a standard train and commute to many cities with an easy and inexpensive ticket.  Or if you need to travel further, for about the cost of airfare, you can catch the Eurostar or similar high speed train and travel up to 350 KMH.  Newly developed trains can make the 541 mile 850 Kilometer trip from Brussels in northern Europe to Marseille France on the Mediterranean Sea in about 2.5 hrs and they average about 400 miles per gallon of fuel by utilizing magnets and energy reclaiming braking systems!

After a pleasant ride through Germany, most of which was along the Elbe River, we arrive in Denmark on the North and Baltic Seas.  Technically a part of the Nordic countries, Denmark lies across the Skagerak from Norway and the Danish Straits from Sweden.  It is the only Nordic country not located on the Skandinavian Peninsula.

Denmark ranks among the best in the world in indices including Peace, Human Development, Transparency and Corruption.  Denmark has been ranked the Happiest Place on earth.

One of the common stereotypes about Europeans and the Danish is their attitude towards and development of alternative energy sources and renewable green technologies.  As such Denmark utilizes windpower through massive offshore windfarms to supplement the natural gas and oil reserves that they possess in the North Sea.

These windfarms remind me of the historical references to windmills in Denmark and other areas of Northern Europe including in Don Quixote (although his encounter happened in Spain.  Did you know that the first practical windmills were invented by the Persians in the 9th century, but references to wind machines date back to the Greeks in the 1st century and even the Chinese before then?)  I personally feel that no other architectural element is as interesting as the churning windmill silently creating energy or performing tasks with no emissions.  There must be some degree of national happiness that comes from utilizing technologies that are efficient and not harmful.

Denmark is ruled by a monarch. Today this monarch is Queen Margarethe II who reigns with absolute impunity and is untouchable and not responsible for personal actions under Danish law.  This does not equate into a dictator since the government is ruled by a parliament called the Folketing.  Members of parliament tend to form coalitions to maintain their seats and to govern.  This system has successfully resulted in a country that regularly leads or is in the top of most modern measurements of success.  Greenland and the Faroe Islands are also a part of Denmark and have representatives in the Folketing.

Typical Danish Village

The food of Denmark shares commonalities with its Nordic brethren with items such as pickled herring, Plaice (a type of fish) Loganberries and other Skandinavian fare combined with continental European cuisine.  The influences of nearby Germany, Poland and Holland can be found in the cuisine of Denmark.

The national dish of Denmark is Frikadeller, or meatballs often served with cabbage and white gravy with slabs of Smorrebrod or dark rye bread and butter.  A type of pancake called an Aebleskiver is popular here and can be made in many ways, both sweet and savory.  The use of gravy and butter with whole grain breads including rye and savory meat preparations are common in this region.  These recipes appeal to this adventurer who shares heritage with this region.

I give this dish a 2 for difficulty.  You can make this with ease if you read the directions.  None of the ingredients should be very challenging to find.  The food is heavier than many other cuisines but washing it all down with a cold beer is both authentic and deliciously refreshing.



Appearance: 2 out of 5

Aroma: 4 out of 5

Flavor:  5 out of 5

Total: 11 out of 15

I am tweaking the original recipe to include some beef as well as the pork.  I am also adding some bread crumbs which are authentic but were not in this recipe.


Serves 8-10 for the main course and 6 for the sides

Approx. 1.5 lb. ground beef

Approx. 1.5 lb. ground pork

4 tbsp. finely chopped onion

4-5 tbsp. flour

1 cup breadcrumbs

2-3 egg whites or eggs

1/2 c. milk

2 tsp. salt

Fresh pepper

butter for frying


Put the meat in a large mixing bowl and push it to one side.

Mix the flour, breadcrumbs and milk to a paste and then blend into the meat a little at a time.

Add the eggs (egg whites), onions, and spices.

Mix the rest of the milk into the meat.

Let the meat sit in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes to make it easier to work with.

Brown the butter in a frying pan.

Shape the meat into ovals using a large spoon and the palm of 1 hand.

Reduce the heat when all the Frikadeller are in the pan.

Fry approximately 5 minutes on each side.

Turn up the heat when you turn the Frikadeller.,1926,146180-255196,00.html

Scalloped Cabbage

5 cups cooked cabbage

2 cups white sauce (below)

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces

Place cabbage in buttered baking dish. Pour white sauce over cabbage; sprinkle with bread crumbs then dot with butter. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.

Serves 6.

Basic White Sauce

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups heated milk


White Pepper, or black pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg (optional)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until mixture is well blended. Gradually stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Simmer stirring frequently over very low heat for 5 minutes.  Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and add a little nutmeg, if desired.  It makes about 2 cups of white sauce.

Roasted Potatoes

6 Red Potatoes

3 stalks of Fresh Rosemary

5 cloves Garlic

Olive Oil

Salt And Pepper

Wash and slice potatoes into wedges of equal size.

Oil a large roasting pan and place the potatoes in it.

Remove leaves from stems and chop the Rosemary and sprinkle over the top of potatoes

Salt and pepper to a reasonable level

Chop Garlic and distribute evenly over potatoes

Lightly pour olive oil over potatoes and seasonings

Roast in 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes till potatoes are cooked and begin to brown, mixing and turning them over about half way through.

Serves 6

Athough not the most colorful or beautiful dish, everything here was delicious!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2010 11:22 am

    Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. April 10, 2010 3:36 pm

    I am happily acquainted with aebleskivers, being the proud owner of a lovely cast iron ‘pande’, but that’s about it for my knowledge of Danish cuisine, until now. For all its simplicity, this plate looks so delicious!

  3. April 13, 2010 9:58 pm

    I read this post with particular attention because I have close relatives who are Danish; in fact one of my cousins was closely involved in the Danish government push to be more developed in terms of wind power; had heard of these dishes too often but never knew how they were made!
    Thanks, enjoyed it!

    • April 14, 2010 8:48 am

      How cool that you have a personal connection to this dish. That has been the best part of this journey, finding out how people are relating through their own experiences to the dishes and countries we are exploring.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  4. December 17, 2010 2:34 pm

    um… you forgot to mention how much of the breadcrumbs you used in your tweaked recipe. 🙂

    • December 17, 2010 11:57 pm

      So I did. One of the many times I have found or have had pointed out errors. Thank you for that! I added more or less 1 cup. Sorry for the omission… I will add this to the recipe…


  5. Nina permalink
    January 26, 2011 3:39 pm

    Thank you for posting this, I’m from Denmark living in the US, I’m having some danish guests over and wanted to serve som frikadeller 🙂 Thank you for the nice things you wrote about Denmark too, makes me proud 🙂

    • January 26, 2011 5:49 pm

      You are very welcome! Thanks for stopping in to Myhungrytum and leaving a comment. I hope the party goes well and the Frikadeller is as delicious as I found it to be… I also hope one day to visit Denmark. I have never been, but my fondest travel memories are from Ireland, Belgium and Iceland. I guess I just love Northern Europe… 🙂 Eric

  6. May 15, 2011 5:26 pm

    Funny, I was just making frikadeller (I’m a Dane living in the San Francisco area) and thought I’d check out what was people had to say about the dish online. You’re correct that the presentation is lacking in deliciousness but, whenever I make these little guys, the plate clears in no time. The great thing about meatballs is that everybody has their own version and I usually add garlic and hot sauce to bring some spice to the table.


  1. what would be a good chicken dish to serve with mac and cheese?? : World online news

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