Danish Pork Burgers

I met Iowa hog farmer Paul Willis at the Fancy Food Show in January and naturally our conversation turned to food and recipes. “Have you ever had a pork burger?,” Paul asked, eyes bright. Upon hearing my response in the negative, Paul added, “You have to try my wife Phyllis’ pork burgers. They’re amazing.” Thinking of burgers made out of pork, I can’t say I was convinced, even when he continued, “Everyone in Iowa eats pork burgers.” But when Paul pointed out his wife’s recipe in the Niman Ranch Cookbook I saw the light. These burgers aren’t hamburgers made out of ground pork. They are more like large, flattened Swedish meatballs. Very tasty. Thank you Paul and Niman Ranch, and thank you Phyllis for a fabulous recipe.

Danish Pork Burgers Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 16 saltine crackers, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Dijon mustard for serving

Method

pork-burgers-1.jpg
1 Using your hands to combine, mix together the pork, saltines, onion, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

pork-burgers-2.jpg pork-burgers-3.jpg

2 Lightly brush a large, nonstick frying pan with vegetable oil. Heat the pan on medium high. Divide the pork mixture into 8 equal portions. Working in batches, drop each portion into the hot pan, spacing them as not to crowd the pan. Pat them down with the back of a spoon to form them into patties. Cook the patties, turning once, for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Serve the pork burgers with Dijon mustard.

Serves 4.

26 Comments

  1. Susan at Food "Blogga"

    It’s always a pleasure to learn about different culinary traditions and cultures. Thanks for sharing the story.

  2. Helle

    Great to see recipies from my home country – in Danish they are called frikadeller. We very often eat them with warm pickled red cabbage or cucumber salad.

  3. Dena

    Adding to Caleb’s comment…My husband is from the Quad Cities (Illinois) and so I have become very familiar with Boetje’s mustard. I have never seen such commotion about a mustard, but I must say it is quite tasty. We always have to stock up when we visit his hometown, as we live in MS with no Boetje’s mustard. If you haven’t tried it, Elise, you must.

    Thanks for this recipe. It looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it!

  4. dksbook

    I am thrilled to see this post! I first had these in Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany. It is a very similar recipe, but with the addition of freshly-grated nutmeg, and it is accompanied by a cream-based mustard sauce. Yum!

    Now, if I can just get my hands on some of that Niman Ranch ground pork…

  5. Stacy

    I MUST try these! I can’t really eat hamburgers because of hereditary cholestrol issues (sigh) and you can only eat so many turkey burgers…these look fantastic!

  6. shuna fish lydon

    wait a second. haven’t you had Crepinettes by Fatted Calf?

    Taylor & Toponia describe them as “little pillows of pork joy.”

    My girlfriend calls me her crepinette, or pork chop, depending…

    But of course this is something you can make in yer own home, so that’s gotta be great too…

  7. Monika

    Hi, I really like this recipe. I come from a Polish background where we make similar burgers all the time. It’s a nice change from the ordinary.

  8. Halindrome

    I *am* still from Minnesota, and I made this tonight. It certainly came out well, although I cheated and used heavy cream instead of whole milk. I wonder if there is something I could do to give them better solidity – some of them were a little “loose”. Suggestions?

  9. Malia

    I live in Japan where beef is a bit too expensive for me to eat often so I usually do make pork burgers (with panko instead of crackers, and no milk) or use a pork/beef blend that’s commonly available. They’re great with the traditional ketchup or mustard, or with grated daikon radish and soy sauce, demi-glace sauce, miso-based sauce, teriyaki sauce, or whatever you like. Other popular ways to spruce up your burgers here is to put lotus root, burdock root, mushrooms, tofu, in with with the ground meat. You can even buy pre-made Disney patties in Mickey Mouse shapes.

  10. Elise

    Ah yes, frikadeller is what Phyllis told me her Danish relatives called these burgers. I could certainly see them with some warm red pickled cabbage.

    Thanks for the tips on Boetje’s mustard! I had no idea this mustard was so popular.

    Stacy – given that ground pork typically has more fat in it than ground hamburger, I would ask your doctor first. If hamburgers are off the list these probably are too.

    Those Mickey Mouse shaped patties are killing me.

  11. Erin

    I am a born and raised Iowan, and I have never had these lovely-looking things. Knowing how good Iowa pork is, however…I can’t wait to try them!

  12. SteveE

    Halindrome-

    If you want your meat patties to firm up a little so they don’t crumble, slap em in the fridge for a couple hours.

    These would be great with some dill sour cream cucumber salad, pickled beets and some currant preserves.

  13. Isabella

    This looks delicious! Actually, pork burgers used to be the ‘local specialty’ at McDonald’s (like turky has the McKöfta and Sweden has the McGarden, Denmark would have the McPork), but they seem to have been cancelled from the menues a few years ago.

    According to the traditional Danish cookbooks you would make your ‘frikadeller’ with 1/2 ground pork and 1/2 ground veal and stir the meat with salt before adding the other ingredients to make it chewy.

    The traditional side dish to accompany these Danish meat balls would be boiled potatoes and either white cabbage in a béchamel without cheese (and with a hint of nutmeg) or with the traditional danish brown gravy and pickled cucumbers and beet roots.

  14. Todd

    I made these last night and served them with baked sweet potato wedges and a salad. My partner raved over the pork burgers and they are much tastier than this simple recipe would suggest.

    I found ‘lean ground pork’ and I assume it’s a bit healthier than the full fat kind. Very little fat ran off when I cooked them on our tabletop grill.

  15. Jack Garrard

    Being from Texas these were definitely different and alot better than a beef hamburger.That is all I have to say about that.

  16. Ken Larsen

    I’m a Danish Canadian, and an old geezer by now, but I’ve made “Frikadeller” all my life. There is some little tricks you can use to make them exstra good. First, don’t use too much onion in them and grate it fine. I use 1/2 medium onion for two ponds of ground pork, one tsp salt and the same for pepper.. Instead of craker crumbs or bread crumbs, use regular or fast-cook oats, about three tablespons for two pounds of meat and two firm them up a bit, add one tablepoon of cornstarch. Using a serving spoon, make oval balls about the size of two large meatball. Slap them in your hand a bit, to firm them up, then put them in a hot frying pan with plenty of oil. Flatten them slightly into a nice shape, brown them nicely on each side, but don’t attempt to finish-fry them in the pan. Instead,as soon as they are browned, put them in a shallow roast pan and finish them in the owen on the lower shelf at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. They will be plumb and juicy-real tasty. Try serving them with creamed peas and carrots and small boiled potatoes,- the new fingerling potatoes are very suitable for this. Some sweet-pickled red beets on the side and you are a real Dane.

    PS. Try slicing them when cold and put on a sandwich with some pickes or red beets.

  17. signe

    I’m a Dane who grew up having frikadeller regularly. They were made with half pork and half veal, eggs, milk, and a little flour. I think they taste great without the veal and if you buy a one-pound tube of frozen pork sausage, they can be a very inexpensive dish.

    You can experiment and add any flavoring or ingredients you like. Today I made these from a pound of pork sausage mixed with half a cup of flour, some finely chopped onion, two cloves of chopped garlic, two eggs, 2/3 cup of milk, and a cup of chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and also the stems sliced very thinly) and some chipotle salt, seasoning salt, dried Italian herbs, freshly ground pepper and a little hot sauce (I used srirachi). I liked this version better than the traditional version and realized the possiblities are endless. Other things I will try adding to the pork mixture in the future – singly or in combination – are: chipotle in adobe sauce, fresh Italian parsley, finely sliced or chopped scallions(including the green tops), fresh serrano or jalapeno peppers, fresh oregano, fresh dill, fresh mint, or a handful of fresh chives. I think any of these would be great additions to the basic pork/flour/egg/milk mixture. You could even make the basic mixture and then divide it into four or five parts and add different ingredients to each part to come up with a variety of flavors from one pound of ground pork sausage. I would also like to try using different ingredients as the binder in place of the flour: oatmeal – as Ken suggested above, besan (chickpea flour used in cooking Indian vegetable fritters), or panko – fine Japanese breadcrumbs.

    Just mix everything really well (it should be loose but not quite soupy) and drop it by the spoonful onto a frying pan coated generously with peanut oil and fry on both sides until dark brown and crispy on the outside and of course thoroughly cooked inside. If you make small ones, just a mouthful, they cook very fast. They are traditionally made in dollops about the size of an egg but slightly flatter, and are eaten without a bun, but they would make great sandwiches or sliders with a small bun, lettuce, ketchup, dijon mustard, mayo, and raw or carmelized onions, sliced tomato, and bacon. Have them for lunch or dinner or eat them as an appetizer. They’re good hot or cold.

  18. Jan Van De Walle

    My husband’s family are from Illinois and Boetje’s mustard, was something we looked forward to each time some one visits. I am trying to find out how to get some online if anyone can help please email me the address. The web site on the bottle just gets me other sites like this one. I live in Oregon so can’t just take a road trip for mustard, even if it is the best. The recipes sound great think I will give them a try. Thanks for the help.
    Jan

  19. Sandra Simmons

    Hi, Elise! Willie and I made these tonight and they were very, very good. We at least doubled the ground pork though having ground it ourselves from pork tenderloin to keep the fat down! I can always count on your recipes to taste delicious and just wanted to thank you again! Making the carnitas with the green salsa tomorrow! Have a great weekend. :-)

  20. Faster Philip

    Hi!

    Im a Dane too, i do these Frikadeller once in a while, im also a former chef, tho i never did a frikadelle at work =) But the frikadelle recipe is as diverse as what i must imagine yours for chili´s.

    But i allways go for this recipe:

    2 pound ground pork, not too lean.

    2 pound ground veal, again not too lean. 10 % is fine.

    3 eggs

    100 ml. milk

    2-3 onions.

    a clove of garlic

    4 tablespoons of flour.

    2 handfulls of oats. fastly chopped. (i use organic so they are usually pretty big)

    2 tablespoons of vegetable bouillion (dry / Powdered)

    3 tablespoons of worchestersauce / worchestershiresauce.

    2 tablespoons of extra virgin oilve oil.

    Salt

    Pepper

    I use a foodprocessor to puree the onions, garlic and milk. then i stir together meat, onionmix and spices. Then i stir in the eggs and lastly flour and oats. I let the patty mix rest in the fridge for 2-3 hours or over night if i have the time. Then i form “meatballs” with a tablespoon, and gently press them on top so they get a little flat, but NOT as much as a burger patty! This is essential as they will dry out if they are too flat. I fry them on a hot pan with plenty butter, again the plenty butter is key! They will dry out a little if theres not enough butter. I often use a spoon to drizzle the frying meatballs with the butter from the pan, as i fry them, this will also improve juicyness and overall frying crust /colour. I serve them with a sauce made on the same pan as i fried the frikadelles and just add cream and perhaps a little jelly. And a cucumber salad, made from thinly sliced cucumbers, vinegar, sugar and salt, pepper, lay leafs and some peppercorns, perhaps even mustardseeds. Cook up spices and sugar with some water and mix in vinegar and let cool, add cucumber slices and let it rest for hours or over night! serve with peeled boiled potatoes. mmmmmm heavenly dish!

  21. Mary

    YUM! I made these tonight with local pastured pork – salt & pepper sausage to be specific, but it is really just ground pork with a little salt & pepper. The burgers felt like fritters to me…and this might offend the Danish, but my taste buds kept looking for little flavor bursts of corn or diced red pepper. We are going to try one or the other (or both!) next time around. Still, YUM!

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