Norwegian Meatballs with Gjetost Gravy

Michael Johnson from The Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge created this fantastic recipe for a 1/25/22 cooking class in partnership with the Brookings Arts Council. It is filling and savory. Perfect for a cold winter day! The direct translation is “meat cakes” instead of “meatballs”. It’s okay if they are a little flat and not perfectly round. That just means the meat is tender and moist.

You can watch a recording of the cooking class here.

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Norwegian Meatballs with Gjetost Gravy

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  • Author: Michael Johnson


The Norwegian name for this savory meatball dish is Kjøttkaker med Brunost Saus.



Meatball Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP plain Nordic or Greek yogurt (Siggi’s Icelandic skyr)
  • 4 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 TBSP good quality olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 TBSP ground allspice
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef, pork, or veal
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP freshly ground pepper more salt and black pepper to taste

Gravy Ingredients

  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups crème fraîche (12 ounces) or sour cream
  • 3 ounces gjetost cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder

For garnish:

  • lingonberry preserves
  • fresh dill


Directions for Meatballs:

  1. Mix the milk and yogurt thoroughly in a large bowl. Submerge the bread in the milk+yogurt mixture. Let stand until saturated, about 10 minutes. Mix and break up large pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, stirring for 8 minutes. Do not allow to get brown and crispy, just tender and translucent. Add the allspice, ginger and nutmeg. Stir and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb and veal (or beef or pork) with the bread mixture, onion, and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper and blend thoroughly. Form into 75-80 small meatballs or small, fat patties (tablespoon-sized). Do not over-form or press too much. Imperfection is good. Just make sure they will stay together. *
  4. Preheat a large frying pan (preferably not Teflon-coated). Oil the pan and brown the meatballs in batches over moderate heat, turning until well browned all around but not cooked through, about 5 minutes per batch. Set aside.

Directions for Gravy:

  1. In a large, deep pot, boil the stock over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, 10 minutes. Add the brandy and boil for 2 minutes. Whisk in the crème fraîche (or sour cream), gjetost cheese and cocoa powder and bring to a simmer. **

Bring it all together:

  1. Add the browned meatballs to the gravy, and simmer on low heat, gently stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through and the gravy is slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill and a dollop of lingonberries on the side.


Serving Suggestions: Serve with boiled potatoes with butter and dill or saffronned root veggie mash (“rotmos”), mushy peas or creamed cabbage, and buttered lefse, crispy flatbread, or seedy “Viking bread.”

*Troubleshooting meatballs: If you use veal and your meatballs are difficult to form, place mixture back in the fridge for a bit. Or, just don’t worry about the shape as they will stick together better once browned, even if you have to kind of “pour” the meatballs into the pan and shape with a spoon while cooking.

**Crème fraiche is not always easy to find. There are several substitution hacks that can be used for crème fraîche which you can find by looking online. (Sour cream is a great and easy substitute, however.)

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