N is for Norway: Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus & Rødkål

Norwegian Meatballs in a brown gravy served with mashed potatoes and sweet and sour cabbage

Norwegian Meatballs in a brown gravy served with mashed potatoes and sweet and sour cabbage

This week in cooking around the world, we’ve traveled to Norway.  In doing the research, I found a lot of familiar types of recipes with names and accents that were completely foreign.  For instance, the dish I chose is simply meatballs and gravy, served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage.  This is definitely something I know about.  But the pronunciations have me pretty confused.  How is one supposed to pronounce a “kj” sound?  I suppose this is why it’s a good thing that I’m a blogger and not an orator.

Anyway, this dish is very similar to its neighbor’s Swedish Meatballs.  From what I can tell, the biggest difference is the way it is served.  Swedish meatballs tend to be accompanied by some sort of jelly (currant and lingonberry are what I’m finding online), whereas Norwegian meatball recipes almost ubiquitously recommend cabbage and potatoes.

I will say, this is not one of those easy-to-pull-together weeknight dinners.  While none of the steps were particularly complicated, it was a labor intensive meal that had me in the kitchen for well over an hour.  That is certainly longer than my typical dinner-prep, but it was worth it in the end.  We loved this dinner.  The flavors in the meatballs were bold, yet comforting.  And the red cabbage balances out the richness of the meat and gravy.  It was a hearty meal, and we both went back for seconds (him for meatballs, me for cabbage). So, if you have a bit of time on your hands and an appetite for a dinner that put those frozen Swedish meatballs to shame, this is a recipe for you!!

Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus (Norwegian Meatballs with Gravy)

Adapted from http://fiveandspice.com/2013/05/20/moms-norwegian-meatballs-with-gravy-kjottkaker-med-brunsaus/


Norwegian meatballs, red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.  A great dinner for a cold night!

Norwegian meatballs, red cabbage, and mashed potatoes. A great dinner for a cold night!

  • ½ + 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 1/3 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ onion, grated in food processor
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 4 tbsp butter, plus some for browning meatballs
  • ¼ cup gf flour
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ onion, skin removed but left intact
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup red wine


  1. Mix together the meats and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Form a well in the meat mixture and add breadcrumbs, then pour the milk on top. Allow mixture to sit like this for a few minutes to soften the breadcrumbs. Add the spices and grated onion, and beat it all together for a few minutes until everything is well combined and the mixture has lightened in texture.
  2. Form the mixture into golf ball sized balls, being careful not to overwork the meat and smash it together to make the meatballs tough.
  3. Heat a few tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a dutch oven. Once the butter has melted, brown the meatballs on all sides, forming a crust. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan (you can do this in multiple batches).
  4. Return all of the meatballs to the pot, with the intact onion half. Pour broth over them so they are about half covered then simmer, uncovered, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and remove the onion.
  5. In a separate, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux, and cook for a few minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth that the meatballs cooked in, careful to avoid forming clumps of the flour.
  6. Add any remaining broth that you didn’t use to cook the meatballs. Bring the gravy to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer until thickened.
  7. Whisk in the sour cream and wine. Allow to cook on low for another few minutes. Pour the gravy over the meatballs, and serve hot with red cabbage and potatoes.

Rødkål (Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage)

Adapted from http://www.norway-hei.com/red-cabbage.html


  • 1 medium red cabbage, sliced
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Place all ingredients in a pan, with about 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and continue simmering until most of the water is evaporated.

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