We recently took a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. One of our stops was to EPCOT (which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, in case you’ve ever wondered) where we ate at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for the special Princess Storybook dining. Which even though the live entertainment and cast of characters is geared toward the children, the food is actually quite delicious. Obviously, I highly recommend the Noregian Kjøttkaker Meatballs. 😉
Once inside, you are transported into a Medieval castle. The windows are small and the walls are rock and mortar while the tables are thick, heavy and wooden like you’d imagine in Medieval times. The allure is that many of the Disney Princesses mingle with guests to give autographs and pose for pictures. My little girl was absolutely delighted to see all her favorite princesses in one place with no lines and no waiting. While attending the royal banquet, families can expect to meet and have photo ops with several of the Disney Characters like Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel and even Mary Poppins makes an appearance.
But enough about the fabulous Disney dining experience and back to the food folks! Once again, I stress that the Noregian Kjøttkaker Meatballs are not to be missed! They were absolutely delicious. Served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Lingonberry jam this dinner really hit the spot. The meatballs themselves were tender and delicious and are what we’re serving up here today. In case you don’t already know this, Disney staffs each of it’s World Showcase areas with people from around the world and particularly from each of the countries they are representing in the World Showcase. Our server was indeed from Norway. So when I asked her how I could recreate these meatballs at home, she was more than happy to share her family recipe with us. She must actually get this request quite often so she was prepared for us. When she came back, she had a piece of paper with a list of ingredients and spouted off the instructions which I jotted down. As with most regional recipes, each family has their own special recipe adjusted for their families tastes and this one is hers. She said these measurements are approximate as they do go by taste and don’t usually measure anything. We were elated that she would share this with us!!
Lingonberry Jam is becoming increasing popular here in the United States and it’s now carried in my local grocery store. However, if Lingonberry Jam in not available in your area, it is easy substituted with Red Currant jelly — or simply omitted altogether but I don’t recommend that! Also, use full-fat sour cream and milk in the gravy recipe. Keep the heat low (or off) when you add the sour cream, and to do it right at the end of cooking as it does not need to come to a boil. It will also be less likely to curdle if it’s not too cold, so instead of using it straight from the refrigerator, let the sour cream come up to room temperature. The fat content in dairy affects how the dairy products react when heated. While I know far too well how tempting it is to save a few calories by using half-and-half or other lower-fat products, a full-fat cream is more stable when added to hot foods and if the above steps are followed, won’t separate in your sauce. There’s nothing more disappointing than working so hard to pull a special meal together and then coming up with a broken sauce. Really disheartening.
Noregian Kjøttkake Meatballs
Yield 4 -6 servings
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs regular, whole wheat, gluten-free or Panko
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter; divided
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Lingonberry jam or Red Currant jelly
- In a large bowl, add the milk and bread crumbs. Allow the milk to be absorbed by the bread crumbs and then whisk in the eggs and spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice). Mix until incorporated. Then add the ground meats and with your finger tips, lightly mix the milk-bread crumb mixture into the meat mixture until well combined being mindful not to compact the mixture tightly. This step makes for a light meatball rather than a dense one.
- Form the meat into 2-oz balls (about the size of golf balls). Into a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt half the butter (4 tbsp) and lightly fry the meatballs, turning until they are browned on all sides, but not cooked through. You may need to work in two batches. Once all the meatballs have been browned remove them from pan and set aside while you prepare the gravy.
- Into the same skillet or Dutch oven you cooked the meatballs in, add the remaining 4 tbsp butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux and allow to cook for a minute - the roux will still be blonde in color. Then slowly whisk the broth into the roux. Once the roux is incorporated into the broth, turn the heat up to medium and add the meatballs back into the pan and cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat until the meatballs are cooked through. The gravy should come to a boil and thicken as the meatballs simmer. If the gravy is too thick, add a little more broth (or water) to thin it to your desired consistency. If the gravy is too thin you can cook a little longer allowing the sauce to reduce to your desired consistency.
- Once your desired consistency is reached, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream (see notes). Taste the sauce and adjust your seasonings to your desired tastes.
- Serve with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Lingonberry jam
Lingonberry Jam is becoming increasing popular here in the United States and I've seen it in my local grocery store. However, if Lingonberry Jam in not available in your area, it is easy substituted with Red Currant jelly. Another note is to use full-fat sour cream and milk. Keep the heat low when you add the sour cream, and to do it right at the end of cooking as it does not need to come to a boil. It will also be less likely to curdle if it's not too cold, so instead of using it straight from the refrigerator, let the sour cream come up to room temperature. Fat content also affects how dairy products behave when heated. While it may be tempting to save a few calories by using half-and-half or other lower-fat products, full-fat cream is more stable when added to hot foods and if the above steps are followed, should not separate in your sauce.