Monday, March 24, 2014

Finnish Hamburger Meat Sauce with a twist

Hamburger meat sauce is a very Finnish dish.

People must have been eating something similar for hundreds of years.

I have no accurate data on this.

But it such a traditional and widely known dish that I can imagine people from hundreds of years ago eating it with a side of rutabaga instead of potato like they do today.

Potato on the other hand is a newcomer in Finland, it has been there only for about two or three hundreds of years.

Not that much time really.
My aunt (at the front) and my mother at my aunts home in Finland.

When I was a little girl I loved the hamburger meat sauce that my grandmother used to do.

This is no fancy cuisine, just regular homemade food that you do for an everyday meal.

She would cook an order of potatoes on the side, the sauce and some onions in salt water.

A very poor meal since she was from a low income family and was born a little after the WWII.

She was not a woman likely to splurge.
Finnish summer
My grandmother was drinking coffee at my parents yard in Finland. My mom on the left, my grandmother in the middle and my father on the right.

Her real luxury was coffee and that she would have every day, regularly, with a cookie or a piece of cake if there was visitor.

But back to the sauce.

When I was about ten or eleven, I asked her to teach me to cook the sauce because I loved it so much.

And she loved it when I told her that I wanted her to teach me to do it, because my mom’s sauce just didn’t taste the same.

The difference was that my grandmother used real butter in her sauce while my mom just used margarine.
My uncle-in-law in their kitchen in Finland. They have a traditional Finnish wood oven and stove.

It takes some thought to make the sauce since you need to make sure the margarine (or butter) and flour mix does not burn.

A very good experience for a hyper ten year old.

The sauce has remained a staple in my house.

I have cooked it with the hamburger meat and made variations of soy also.

For those who do not like eating meat, I highly recommend doing the sauce with soy.

It is really delicious.
A traditional Finnish moment of relaxation. My grandmother and sister having a coffee with a cake at my grandmother home.

But since this is the lent time and my lent promise was to go gluten free, I was really suffering.

I had accepted to leave normal pasta and use only quinoa based pastas.

I was OK with leaving the cakes and cookies for a while.

But living without Finnish hamburger meat sauce?


So, I went to our local supermarket and found a bag of broad bean flour.
Ecuadorian broad bean flour.
I prefer using Canola oil because it's healthier.

I also found soy flour, banana flour, yucca flour and many other flours but the consistency of broad bean flour was really interesting.

Because for me it was very similar to wheat flour but with no gluten.

I decided to make a try and bought it.

And then it was the trial time.

I added the oil (about half a cup) and added two four spoons of broad bean flour.

Mixed it with the oil on the pan and stirred it gently.
This is how the oil and flour mix should look like.

The margarine and the flour mixed perfectly and started to simmer gently on the pan.

Finally the air was filled with the familiar smell of frying flour, exactly like the wheat flour for my nose.

I had already fried the hamburger meat with spring onions and clove a garlic.
Fried hamburger meat.

I added a glass of water to the flour and margarine mix, whisked it well to get it mixed and let it on the fire again.

The mix started to form a real heavy sauce, when it boiled it was time to add some more water until I got the consistency I wanted.

I personally prefer my sauce not very thick but not watery either.

But the amount of water you use really depends on your preferences.
The sauce is boiling happily.

When the sauce was happily boiling I added a pinch of salt and mixed the hamburger meat in.

At the same time I had a pot of potatoes cooking with some carrots in it.

I prefer not peeling my potatoes or carrots because it helps to keep more nutrients in.

I just peel the skin off the moment I intend to eat them, when they are steaming hot.
Potatoes with the carrots waiting to be peeled and eaten.

Then add some sauce on them, and bit of onion salad.

I had onions chopped and mixed with mayonnaise.

You are ready to enjoy!  


  1. That does sound good. You have such a good memory with your grandmother. I used to cook with mine when I was younger too. I miss those special times

  2. I too really like meat sauce.. I ask my wife to make it all the time! I think it is so great that your grandmother tough you her recipe and you can teach it to your kids.

  3. What a great looking recipe. Love trying out new ingredients. That flour sounds interesting.

    Michelle F.

  4. Sometimes these good wholesome foods aren't fancy but they taste good and that's what really matters.

  5. Good wholesome foods are always best.

    I would definitely do this! I bet it's tasty!

  6. As always, great pictures! This definitely sounds like something that my family would enjoy. Thanks for posting!

  7. That sounds like a perfect comfort food. I just love your family photos :)

  8. This sounds good! I will have to give it a shot someday and see what the kids think. :)

  9. This looks like a great recipe. Thanks for sharing. AMber N

  10. I like the changes in this from a normal meat sauce, will try PINNED.

  11. I love meat sauce. Didn't know it was a traditional Finnish meal. How cool!!

  12. This Look So Delicious I Can't Wait To Make, Thank You!

  13. That sounds very interesting and I would love to give it a try, I'm sure I'll find it as tasty as much as you do.

  14. That sounds really tasting. And good for you for going gluten-free - I made it 3 weeks once and that's all I could handle.

  15. I have never heard of this before, sounds interesting. The cake with the strawberries looks delicious!

  16. I love the story behind your recipe. It definitely looked like a good chance from standard American meat sauce. Thank you for sharing!

  17. It sounds good and it looks good. a good way to learn finnish cuisine. That cake looks really really good too

  18. It is awesome that you were able to make your favorite sauce into a gluten-free recipe so that you could eat it during lent. Great job, and it looks delicious.

  19. This sounds delicious! I can't get my mind off of that beautiful cake though! lol!