Beef Patties, Danish Style


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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By Ole Mouritsen

Published 2014

  • About

The third in this trio of everyday dishes consists of beef patties with onions, potatoes, and brown gravy. In terms of old-fashioned Danish cuisine, it represents the very epitome of food with umami. When Danes are asked by foreigners to identify food that is quintessentially representative of their country, they often answer smørrebrød (smorgasbord or open-face sandwiches) and beef patties with onions. The patties are made with ground beef, which should be neither too fatty nor too lean. A fat content of about 8 percent is best. Ideally, the meat should have been aged and be from older animals, as this results in the most umami.

Usually the patties are served with onions fried until they are translucent and a brown gravy made with the meat drippings from the frying pan. Here we have updated the recipe to increase its umami content by seasoning the gravy with Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, or soy sauce. And, whether one likes it or not, custom dictates that the gravy must be a deep brown color, so it might be necessary to add a little caramel food coloring to achieve the desired result. Boiled or mashed potatoes and a fried or poached egg, which also contribute umami, are served on the side. The dish is rounded out with condiments that are sweet and sour, such as pickled beets, cucumber pickles, sweet and sour red cabbage, and wild cranberry or red currant jelly. Beef patties, Danish style


  • large baking potatoes
  • salt
  • mustard seeds
  • beets
  • apple cider vinegar
  • canola oil
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg per serving
  • onions
  • ground beef with about 8% fat content, about 200 g per serving
  • butter
  • all-purpose flour
  • Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, HP sauce, or ketchup
  • caramel food color (optional)


  1. Wash the potatoes and boil them whole with 4 g ( tsp) of salt per liter (quart) of water. Set aside. Remember to set the cooking water aside as well.
  2. Soak the mustard seeds in a little lukewarm water to soften, and then crush them lightly.
  3. Cook the beets in lightly salted boiling water for about 45 minutes, until they are tender. Discard the water and place the beets under cold running water to loosen the skin. Peel or slip off the skin. Grate the beets or cut them into strips, then marinate them with the mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, and canola oil, as well as a little salt and white pepper.
  4. Pour the Worcestershire sauce into a small pot, reduce by about half, and allow to cool.
  5. Place the eggs in egg poachers and add a little salt, white pepper, and a drop of the Worcestershire reduction.
  6. Poach the eggs gently, 4–5 minutes. The yolks should be runny.
  7. Peel the onions and cut them into chunks, like orange segments.
  8. Shape the ground beef into patties, fry them in butter, and season with a little Worcestershire sauce reduction, salt, and white pepper. When you turn the patties, add the onion segments to the pan.
  9. Remove the patties when they are medium-rare. Leave the onions to fry until they are golden and soft. Remove the onions from the pan and place most of the onions on top of the patties. Reserve the rest for serving.
  10. Sprinkle a little flour in the pan, toast it lightly, add two or three ladlefuls of the potato water, and whisk thoroughly. When the mixture has cooked through and the floury taste has disappeared, add more potato water to attain the desired consistency for the gravy.
  11. Season the gravy with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, HP sauce, or ketchup, as well as salt and white pepper. Add a little caramel food coloring to give color—not necessary, but not harmful either!
  12. Cut the cooked potatoes in half, hollow them out, put the potato flesh through a ricer or mash them with a fork.
  13. Arrange the beef patties on plates with the beets, remaining onions, poached eggs, mashed potatoes, and the brown gravy.