Frikadeller med rodkal (Danish meatballs with pickled red cabbage)

Flavours of home is a series of recipes from around the world cooked by people at home in Otago. This week Inge Nielsen, from Denmark, shows us how to make frikadeller med rodkal (Danish meatballs with pickled red cabbage).

Inge Nielsen and her family came to New Zealand 20 years ago. She, her husband and their teenage children wanted to move to a country less crowded than Denmark, so they could enjoy the outdoors, fishing, hunting, and walking in places where they could feel they might be the only people in the world.

Frikadeller, or Danish meatballs, are a national dish, and most families in Denmark would eat them once a week. They are so easy, a child can make them, Mrs Nielsen said.

Rodkal, or pickled red cabbage, is also a favourite and often is part of the Christmas table, along with roast duck stuffed with apples and prunes, and sugar-glazed potatoes.

(Danish meatballs)

(serves 4)
1 onion
2-3 cloves of garlic, optional
500g minced beef
500g minced pork or lamb
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
2-3 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
butter or oil for frying

Chop the onions and garlic finely in a food processor. Mix with minced meat, eggs, milk. flour and seasonings until a thick paste is formed.

Heat butter or oil in a frying pan on high heat. Shape dessertspoonfuls of the mince mixture into patties and place in the hot pan. Press them down slightly.

Brown for 2-3 minutes on each side then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes or so, turning again, until cooked through.

(pickled red cabbage)

1 head of red cabbage
500-750ml sweetened blackcurrant juice (Mrs Nielsen uses Ribena)
1 cup white vinegar
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
sugar to taste

Quarter the red cabbage and slice finely. Put into a pan and pour in blackcurrant juice to come most of the way up the cabbage. The cabbage will cook down so you don't need to cover it with liquid.

Cover with a lid and cook slowly for 45 minutes. The cabbage should still be slightly crunchy.

Add vinegar and spices and cook another 15 minutes or so. Taste and add sugar if desired. The cabbage should taste slightly sweet-and-sour.

• Garlic is widely used now.
• Mrs Nielsen likes to use butter for frying as she says it gives a good crust and flavour, and does not splatter as much as oil.
• Frikadeller must be cooked right through. Cut one in half to check.
• Frikadeller can be served with potatoes and brown gravy.
• In Denmark, redcurrant juice would have been used to cook the cabbage, but that is not easy to find here.
• Pickled red cabbage can be eaten hot as a side dish, but is also delicious cold for lunch as part of a Danish open sandwich with sliced frikadeller or liver pate on rye sourdough bread.
• Pickled red cabbage will keep for a week in the fridge, but Mrs Nielsen makes a large quantity and freezes it.

 - Thanks to Afife Harris


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