Cooking it Norwegian Way: Delicious Christmas Recipes from Norway

Photo : Robyn Lee.

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Christmas
time is a celebration of traditions and family in Norway. As the festive season
comes, Norwegians comes together around their fire places, dance around the
Christmas tree, and enjoy rich traditional food. To feel the Norwegian Christmas spirit, we share some of the fundemental Christmas foods with you:

Pinnekjøtt

In Norway, Pinnekjøtt is a main course dinner dish of lamb or mutton. Pinnekjøtt is a festive dish typical to Western- and Northern Norway, and is rapidly gaining popularity in other regions as well. This dish is largely associated with the celebration of Christmas, served with puréed rutabaga and potatoes, beer and akevitt. The preparation of pinnekjøtt uses a traditional method for food preservation utilizing curing, drying and in some regions also smoking as means of inhibiting the growth of micro-organisms. Although lamb is today available fresh or frozen all year round, pinnekjøtt is still prepared both commercially and in private homes due to the flavour and maturing the preservation process gives to the meat.[4] In home preparation of pinnekjøtt, racks of lamb or mutton are cured in brine or coarse sea salt. Once sufficiently cured, and when the weather is cold enough, the racks are hung in a cool, dark, well ventilated place to dry.

Ingredients

1 1/2kg sheep ribs

2 turnips/swedes

2 carrots (optional)

20 Potatoes

1/4 ts ground nutmeg

4 liters of water

Method

Cut ribs lengthwise between each rib. Place in cold water overnight.

Steam the meat on sticks of birch (without bark). You may also use a metal grating placed in the bottom of a saucepan any fish pot. The water should be level with the ground. Add the lid and allow the meat to steam for 2 – 2 1 / 2 hour until it separates from the bone. Add more water if necessary. Make sure it does not go dry.

The meat should be put under the grill for about 20 minutes before serving to make it crispy.

Serve turnip stew and potatoes with the meat.

Turnip stew

Boil turnips and any carrot slices.

Mash and season with salt, pepper, or a little ground nutmeg and butter or a little of the fat / juices from the meat.

Lutefisk

Photo: Ryan Opaz| Lutefisk is usually served with bacon.

This
special Norwegian dish has a peculiar place on Christmas tables. Its pecularity
is not limited to its cooking timing but its unique taste that you either love
it or hate it. Despite this, Norwegians consume a lot of lutefisk during the
Christmas season.

Traditional
lutefisk is made from stockfish that receives a lengthy treatment before
cooking. After drying, the fish is reconstituted in cold water for a week, then
soaked in a lye solution for several more days.

There are
also a few different types of lutefisk which are dried artificailly and mde
available on the market for the people who look for a milder taste.

Instruction
for cooking Lutefisk

Put the
ingredient you bought from a grocery in a large bowl, and cover with ice water.
Change this water two to three times (to remove the lye) and keep in the
refrigerator until ready to use. This firms up the fish.

Lutefisk
does not need any additional water for the cooking. Place the well rinsed cod
in a frying pan over low heat, (do not use an aluminum pan as the lye in the
fish will discolor the pan). Add salt, cover with a lid, and steam cook approximately
20 to 25 minutes.

Potatoes,
mushy peas and some bacon can be added to the plate while serving this special
Norwegian Christmas tradition.

Pepperkaker

Photo: Magnus Akselvoll | Pepperkake can be formed in
various shapes and can be decorated with candies and decorative goods.

Another
inevitable element of Norwegian Christmas tables is pepperkakke (gingerbread).
Here are the ingredient of this spicy coocki.

150g
unsalted butter, softened

150g caster
sugar

70ml
treacle

50ml golden
syrup

75ml whole milk

1 medium egg yolk

450g plain
flour

2 tsp
ground ginger

2 tsp
cinnamon

1 tsp
cardamom, ground to a fine powder

1 tsp bicarbonate
of soda

1 tsp
ground cloves

¼ tsp
finely ground black pepper

½ tsp fine
sea salt

Method

You can use
a food processor to make this dough or mix it by hand. Cream the butter and
sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mix the treacle, golden syrup, milk and
egg yolk together in a bowl or jug, and stir 400g flour and all the other dry
ingredients together in a separate bowl. Alternate between adding wet and dry
ingredients in stages, mixing as you go, until the dough comes together. Add
some or all of the remaining 50g flour if the mixture seems too wet, although
you want it to be quite sticky – it will set when refrigerated.

Divide the
mixture in two and wrap in clingfilm, squishing and smoothing the mixture down
as you seal it up until you have a round disc about 10cm wide. Refrigerate
overnight or freeze until needed. Allow the dough to come to room temperature
for about 15-20 minutes. If you are using frozen dough, you will need to let it
defrost overnight in the fridge beforehand.

Preheat the
oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3-4 and line two or three large baking sheets
with baking parchment. Roll out the biscuit dough with a floured rolling pin on
a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 2mm thick. The thinner you roll
it, the crisper the biscuits will be – but if the dough gets too thin, the
biscuits may be tricky to transfer to a baking sheet. You may find it easier to
roll the dough directly on to the baking sheet and cut out the biscuit shapes
there, lifting off the excess dough to roll out for the next batch.

Bake on the
middle shelf of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Allow to cool on a wire rack while you repeat the rolling, cutting and baking
until all the dough is used up. If you find that the cooled biscuits are still
a little soft, you can always pop them back in a 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2
oven to dry out.

Properly
crisp and dried out, these biscuits can keep in an airtight container for
several weeks. My grandmother used to keep them from Christmas all the way
through until Lent, but mine are always eaten up long before that! If the
stored biscuits start to go soft, reheat them on a wire rack at 150°C/130°C
fan/gas mark 2 for 5-10 minutes, then allow to cool completely on the wire rack
once out of the oven to crisp them back up.

Gløgg

Photo: Mararle | Gløgg is served after heating and mixing with some nuts and rosiner.

When the
Christmas table is set, eyes seek for this special drink. Gløkk is a beverage
usually made with red wine along with various spices and raisins. It is served
hot or warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Non-alcoholic and alcoholic
versions of glögg can be bought ready-made or prepared with fruit juices
instead of wine. The main classic ingredients (of alcoholic gløgg) are red
wine, sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange,
and optionally also stronger spirits such as vodka, akvavit, or brandy.

Throughout
Scandinavia, gløgg spice extract and ready-mixed spices can be purchased in
grocery stores. To prepare gløgg, spices and/or spice extract are mixed into
the wine, which is then heated to 60-70°C. When preparing homemade gløgg using
spices, the hot mixture is allowed to infuse for at least an hour, often
longer, and then reheated before serving. Ready-made wine gløgg (and low- or
non-alcoholic varieties) is normally sold at groceries all over Norway, ready
to heat and serve, and not in concentrate or extract form. Gløgg is generally
served with raisins, blanched almonds and Ginger biscuits (Ginger Snaps), and
is a popular hot drink during the Christmas season.

If you would
like to do it from bottom on your own, here is a practical recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1 bottle
red wine

80g caster
sugar

1 big stick
cinnamon

1 tsp
ground ginger

10 whole
cloves

5 cardamom
pods

1 piece
dried Seville orange peel

Dash of
cognac or rum (if desired)

Flaked
almonds or raisins, to serve

Method

Pour the
wine into a saucepan and add the sugar, spices and orange peel.

Heat until
the mixture is hot but not boiling (around 80°C – anything hotter and the
alcohol will start to evaporate).

Turn off
the heat and leave to infuse for an hour or more.

Strain the
spices then reheat if necessary. Add a dash of cognac or rum if desired for
extra warmth.

Serve in
small cups, with a teaspoon of flaked almonds and raisins added.

Recipe
courtesy of Bronte Aurell at Scandinavian Kitchen

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