2 October 2011

Lapskaus med Flatbrød | Norwegian Comfort Food

In the words of Oliver Thring: ''A national dish tells you something about the nation. Burgers are classless, brash and straightforward. Pasta is incredibly sentimental, mothering and rooted to home. Sushi isn't as complicated as it likes to pretend.'' And lapskaus.. ah lapskaus. What does it say about Norway, my country, you might wonder? What is it about this stew of root vegetables and meat that has seduced Weegians for centuries? I'll tell you.

I don't know.

But as I sit my the fireplace, dressed in my autumn woollies, I wonder if it is so seducing simply because of the warmth and comfort it brings. After all, this kind of food is what you need to survive the infamous Norwegian winters. This is the kind of food you need to warm your bones. It's freezing when you can feel it in your bones, and feel it in your bones you will.


I have often said that simplicity in cooking is a virtue. The ingredients should always speak for themselves. This recipe has quite a few ingredients – nine to be precise, plus water and broth – but they're left much to themselves. You just have to chop them and cook 'em together until you're left with something quite exceptional, something Norwegian have been eating for as far back as anyone can remember. Or at least ever since the potato arrived, some 200 years ago. 

There are a myriad of variations, though, and three main types: lys (light) lapskaus, made with salted pork; suppelapskaus, a thinner, soup-like version and brun (brown) lapskaus, made with gravy and beef. I don't know whether the lys lapskaus version is more common here in western Norway, or perhaps only in my family, but I swear I've never tried the soup or brown version. And I eat lapskaus quite a lot! 

Traditionally, you eat lapskaus with flatbrød – meaning ''flat bread'' – and the two go well together. Flatbrød is a simple mixture of flour, salt and water, and is one of the truly ancient Norwegian foods. If you make it correctly and store it in a completely dry place, it can last forever. We have a saying here in Norway: ''A flatbrød will last from a child is born until he or she is married.'' You don't have to stretch it this far, though – you can always make more for a wedding.


Lapskaus

*Ingredients*
400 g. salted lamb, cubed

4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 kg. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 celery root, chopped
1 swede, peeled and cubed
Salt and pepper

1.Clean and chop the vegetables and set aside.



2.In a large, iron pot, cook the lamb cubes in enough water to cover them and add three-four cubes of dried chicken broth or about 300 ml fresh chicken or lamb broth. Let the lamb cook until tender, them remove and set aside. 


3.Place all the vegetables in the pot and let them cook until soft and mushy. If there is too much liquid, just remove some. Add the meat and stir. The lapskaus shouldn't be ''wet'', just mushy. Flavour with salt and pepper.


Flatbrød
Recipe by Norsk Mat by Lars Barmen

*Ingredients*
250 g. rye flour
250 g. oat flour
250 g. whole wheat flour 
5 dl water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix everything until you form a homogenous dough. Divide the dough into 24 pieces, and roll each piece as thin as you possibly can. Bake them on a nonstick pan (no oil or butter please!) until they're golden. Cool, then serve.

3 comment (s):

Debbie Petras said...

My mother and grandmother used to make lapskaus. It has been years since I've had it. So glad I found your blog!

visvanathan said...

thanks for the lovely blog about Lapskaus....i learned about Lapskaus from my Dad, who cooked it regularly, although i don't think he put turnips in it, and he used canned corned beef for the meat...

i've been making it myself, kind of in his memory, for years, now, only i prefer to use the Corned beef brisket that comes in a bag, rather than the canned meat.

i still remember my dad's corned beef, though, and how he used to mash up the leftovers on toast the next day at lunch, and serve it cold with salt and pepper....or at least pepper....loving my dad, i of course loved his lapskaus, and his way of having it the next day....

i think it is more of the soup style, though, although the potatoes can thicken the broth quite nicely....i also put cabbage in....YUM!

Krista said...

I know us Norwegians don't always get along with Swedes but to make a dish out of them. hahaha =) Just kidding. This looks fabulous!

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