Meatballs and Smashed Potatoes with Farmor's Parsley Sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes to make - it’s a dish that has such strong ties to my childhood, my heritage, and my family. Having been born to Danish diplomat parents I was raised around the globe in cities like Paris, Washington D.C. and London. I was exposed to a variety of cultures and traditional foods from an early age. 

Meatballs, of course, are a Nordic staple. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that these are traditional Danish meatballs, they certainly pay homage to my roots. In Denmark, meatballs are always served with potatoes, so today I am sharing my family’s favorite Smashed Potatoes recipe. They really do taste as delicious as they look! And finally, I am topping the whole dish off with my Farmor’s (Danish for Grandmother) Parsley Sauce.

I have such fond memories of observing my grandmother in the kitchen as a girl. She was a skilled home cook and always prepared delicious traditional Danish meals! She and my grandfather had a gorgeous farm in the countryside overlooking the ocean. My brother and I spent most holidays on the farm and loved every minute of it - it was such a stark contrast and breath of fresh air from our home life. The vacations on the farm were a lovely way to be reminded of our ‘Danishness’ and connect not only with our grandparents and cousins but also Danish culture.

INGREDIENTS 

For Meatballs (Serving Size: 6)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, grated 
  • 1 full bunch of cilantro or basil, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef (see notes)
  • 1 lb. ground pork (see notes)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley for garnish, chopped 
For Smashed Potatoes (Serving Size: 6)
  • 2 lbs. fingerling potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • parsley for garnish, chopped
For Farmor’s Parsley Sauce (Serving Size: 6)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 large bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

For Meatballs (Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 35-40 mins)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a small frying pan, and add finely chopped onions. Sauté until soft (10-15 mins). Set aside to cool.
  3. Grate fennel, chop 1 bunch of cilantro (or basil), then combine in a large bowl along with cooled sautéed onions.
  4. Add all remaining meatball ingredients (excluding parsley) and mix. Be sure not to over mix as the meatballs can become dense and tough.
  5. Form meatballs (approx. 2 inches in diameter - most Danes make them oval, but I like mine round) and line them up on the baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper over meatballs to taste before placing in the oven.
  7. Bake in oven for 25 mins.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Notes:
  • You can use any ground meat you prefer. The traditional Danish way is to do half beef/half pork. I tend to do it that way, but sometimes I do 100% beef.
  • Meatballs can be made on the stovetop but I prefer to bake them in the oven because A) Super easy! and B) No cleanup. I always use UNBLEACHED parchment paper to keep my food chemical-free.
  • My family eats a LOT! So this recipe is for 6 people even though we are just 4, but you can easily cut it in half. 
  • I also love to put a lot of vegetables in my meatballs. Sometimes I throw in leftover vegetables I have from the night before.
  • Cooked meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They are also great to freeze! To freeze them place them on a baking sheet in the freezer till completely frozen, then I store them in a glass container. My favorite ones are from GlassLock.
For Smashed Potatoes (Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 50 mins)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Clean potatoes with a vegetable brush. DO NOT peel, leave skins on.
  3. Bring salted water to a boil and boil potatoes for 20 minutes. Drain water and allow for the potatoes to cool.
  4. While melting 3 tbsp of butter in a saucepan, carefully remove potatoes one by one from the pot, place on the lined baking sheet, and smash with a meat tenderizer (the bottom of a glass bottle or jar works too).
  5. Use a pastry brush to paint a thin coat of melted butter onto each smashed potato.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 cup of shredded mozzarella over the potatoes. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley. 
For Farmor’s Parsley Sauce (Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 10 mins)
  1. Heat 1 cup of heavy cream in a sauce pot.
  2. Add chopped parsley to the pot.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of grated parmesan and salt + pepper to taste.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve. My family loves to drizzle the parsley sauce over the potatoes and meatballs, but you can also serve it on the side, depending on your preference.
Notes:
  • This parsley sauce is not identical to my grandmother’s as she used flour and I don’t. I find that substituting flour with parmesan makes it more clean.
Et Voilà! Bon Appétit,

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