Updated: Jun 27, 2022
Every country has it's own special holiday and celebration foods and Norway is no exception. Christmas Eve celebration dinner in our family usually consists of roast pork, a special, lightly spiced sausage called "julepølse" and medisterkaker. Medisterkaker are light, juicy pork meatballs delicately flavoured with seasonal spices. They are a firm favourite with my kids throughout the year and so at Christmas time I generally make a big batch and freeze the excess for quick meals later in the year.
A few months ago I found a wonderful second hand book called "Mat fra Telemark" (Food From Telemark) and I have been slowly working my way through recipes new and familiar. This recipe for medisterkaker is a take on a traditional medisterkaker recipe. Telemark is a region in the south of Norway that spans both gentle coastal areas and wild, untamed mountains. There are lots of beautiful farms, and pork is a very popular meat, especially during the holiday season.
Medisterdeig is a minced pork product that has a fairly high percentage of fat. The fat content is often around 25% so if you can't find medisterdeig then go for a fatty pork mince or add a little fat. I know that sounds pretty unhealthy but this is not a dish you will be eating everyday (or you might!) and the fat adds to the juiciness and flavour. If you are worried about the amount of calories then you can always adopt the Scandinavian maxim of getting outside for some activity for a few hours afterwards. It is the winter after all and a few extra calories help us to keep warm!
Medisterkaker from Telemark
1 kg / 2 lb medisterdeig or other pork mince /ground pork with about 25% fat
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons potato starch or potato flour
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 grated nutmeg
1 grated onion
300ml / 10 fl oz milk
Butter for frying
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients expect the butter for frying. Give it a good mix with your hands making sure that everything is evenly distributed. The amount of milk might seem a little excessive, but it makes for a nice soft meatball. If you keep mixing you will see that it gets easily absorbed.
At this point I like to refrigerate it for a few hours to allow the flavours to develop and to make it easier to work.
Preheat oven to 180C / 360F
Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or large pan and add a knob of butter. Take small handfuls of the mince mix and shape it into oval balls. It helps if you have a small bowl of cool water next to you when you do this; dip your hands into the bowl of water before shaping the mince and it won't stick to your hands. As you make each oval ball place it in the pan and flatten it slightly. Cooking about 6 at a time gives you time to turn them. As they brown turn each one and allow it to brown slightly on the other side. Remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet. They won't be fully cooked at this point, but we are going to finish them in the oven. If you prefer you can carry on cooking in the pan. Once your tray is full cook the medisterkaker in the preheated oven 180C for about 10 minutes.
Serve hot with mashed potato or plain boiled potatoes, surkål (sauerkraut), brown gravy and lingonberry jam.
Freeze any excess for quick and easy meals later on.
Vær så god!
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