Danish Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Repurpose the meatballs and cabbage into a Danish smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich, the next day for a delicious lunch.
By Dawn Myers
Danish Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Danish Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Repurpose the meatballs and cabbage into a Danish smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich, the next day for a delicious lunch.
Recipe Type: Main
Rødkål (Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage)
  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red currant jelly
Frikadeller (Danish Meatballs)
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup seltzer water
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Brown gravy (optional)
Red Cabbage
  1. Remove tough outer leaves and white core of the cabbage. Slice the remaining cabbage into thin strips.
  2. In a preheated saute pan, place the cabbage, vinegar, water, salt, sugar and pepper over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until tender for about 2 hours. Before serving, stir in the red currant jelly.
  1. Mix together the onion, pork and veal until well combined. Forget all of the admonishments about overworking the meat for similar dishes. Stir the milk, eggs, bread crumbs, and flour into the meat mixture until well incorporated. Stir in the seltzer water, allspice and salt and pepper. Mix should be moist and more wet than a traditional meatloaf, but it should not be so overly wet as to lack consistency. Additional breadcrumbs or flour may be called for if the mixture is too wet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed skillet. Using a large spoon, pull oval shaped meatballs out of the mixture and fry in the butter, turning when well browned. Do not crowd the pan, or the meatballs won’t develop a nice brown crust. Remove meatballs when cooked through and set aside.
  3. For the optional gravy: add ¼ cup chopped onion to the leftover butter remains in the pan. Sauté until translucent. Add a tablespoon (or so) of flour and brown. When the flour reaches a nice color for gravy, add beef or chicken stock slowly, while whisking, until you get the gravy consistency you want. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  1. Dear Dawn.
    As a Dane, it pleases me to see good old fashion Danish recipes by non-Danes :)

    I must say, though, the all-spice in frikadeller is a subject for discussion that never seems to find it’s place within the Danish population. My family don’t use it, my family in law does ;)

    In old recipes for rødkål, duck fat is used. Before you add sugar and liquids, heat the duck fat and stir in the cabbage until it collapses a bit in the pan/pot. The fat works as lid in the jar, and will keep the rødkål for longer. If you haven’t eaten it :)

    I’ll share with you the easiest (and perhaps best) recipe for agurkesalat – pickled, sliced cucumber:
    1 cucumber
    1 cup of vinegar (nothing fancy)
    1 cup of sugar
    salt and peppar
    Slice the cucumber thinly. Stir vinegar, sugar and salt and peppar together. Add the cucumber. Leave them for at least and hour and a half. Stir occasionally.
    Really good with frikadeller, pork or chicken roast, on leverpostej (paté) and in hotdogs :)

    I enjoy your recipes and your pictures a lot, thanks
    mrs. Winther

  2. I purchased a Danish cookbook in Solvang, CA two years ago. My daughter-in-law asked me to make Red Cabbage for Thanksgiving this year, and I couldn’t find my book with the recipe I used last year. I searched the web and came up with yours. It’s perfect and I know it’s the same as my great-grandmother’s. She came here from Copenhagen. Very soon I will make the Frikadellers, also. Again – perfect. I had this dinner in Solvang and it brought back such fond memories. (Even thinking of my Dad and how we laughed when someone said “Frikadeller” and he said, “Don’t say that naughty word!”
    Thank you so much. Off to make my red cabbage.

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