Mom's Norwegian Meatballs with Gravy (Kjøttkaker med brunsaus)

August 10, 2010
1 Rating
Author Notes

Meatballs are one of the most traditional of the foods in Norway (they even participate in Christmas in many families). And, lucky for me growing up, my mother is the queen of the meatballs and gravy. It was a frequent meal in our house, but I loved it so much, I also requested it for every birthday. This is her recipe. Of course, like any family recipe, there aren't really measurements and it gets made a little differently every time. But, this is my best approximation. The other trick is to taste the gravy as you make it and add a little extra sour cream, or wine, or broth, as well as salt and pepper to suit your taste. —fiveandspice

  • Serves 5-6
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound ground veal (if veal is unavailable use 1/2 lb each of beef and pork)
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion, skin removed but left in tact
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • Dash gravy browning agent (eg. Kitchen Bouquet)
  • 3-4 thin slices of gjetost, Norwegian brown goat cheese (optional, since this is an acquired taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
In This Recipe
  1. In an electric mixer (Kitchen Aid), mix together the ground meats, the egg until combined. Form a well in the middle and add the breadcrumbs then pour the milk onto the breadcrumbs and allow to sit for a minute or two to soften them. Then add the spices and whip the meats, crumbs, milk, and spices together for several minutes until very well combined and lightened in texture.
  2. Form the meat into balls about the size of golf balls. Heat a couple of Tbs. or so of butter in a large Dutch oven and fry the meatballs, carefully turning until they are well browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Do not crowd the meatballs in the pan, you may have to fry them in two batches to make sure they don’t steam each other.
  3. Once all of the meatballs have been browned, return them all to the Dutch oven, add the half onion, and pour the broth over them, using enough broth to cover them halfway. Simmer until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the onion.
  4. To make the gravy, in a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 4 Tbs. of butter. Stir in the flour to make a roux and allow to cook for a minute. Then (this is the slightly tricky part), bit by bit, whisk the broth that the meatballs were cooking in into the roux, whisking vigorously to prevent clumping.
  5. If you didn’t use all of the broth to cook the meatballs, add the rest of the broth to the gravy and bring to a simmer. Turn to very low heat. Whisk in the sour cream, wine, gravy browner, and gjetost if desired. Stir in salt and pepper to test. Also adjust the rest of the flavorings to taste.
  6. If the gravy is too thick, add in a little hot water from the potatoes that you should be boiling at the same time (you always eat meatballs and gravy with potatoes!).
  7. When the gravy is seasoned to your liking, pour it over the meatballs in a serving dish. Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes, sweet-sour red cabbage, and a green vegetable. Vær så god!

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.