The last day of the year is almost here, and if you are anything like me, you will give some thought to what you are going to eat and drink to ring in the new year. Norwegians typically spend all Christmas week indulging in rich dishes such as pork belly, cream cakes and more sweets, and by the time New Years Eve comes around, most people choose lighter fare to celebrate the last holiday of the year. Seafood is a popular choice, so is turkey. I don’t need to give Americans another recipe for turkey, as I believe this will remain a specialty of this country, so I decided to give you an alternative menu showcasing the foods native to Norway – after all this blog is mostly about Norwegian cooking! Hopefully you will find some ideas here, and although you may not be able to locate all these ingredients on such short notice, remember recipes are for inspiration only, not to be taken literally. You can substitute ingredients, sides and flavors – after all, it is your New Years and you should spend it eating and drinking whatever your heart desires!!
ARCTIC CHAR CARPACCIO
Arctic char, called ishavsrøye in Norwegian, is similar to salmon but less fatty and milder in flavor but can be treated the same way. Arctic char is Norway’s oldest fresh water fish, and also the fish that lives the furthest north. Available all year long, it can vary in color from dark to light red, is rich in protein and B12 vitamins. Delicious as carpaccio, you can flavor it with anything you like but don’t forget the acid (lime or lemon juice!) to “cook” it!
1 lb filet of arctic char, boneless
fresh dill and chervil
juice from 2 limes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup Greek yogurt
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
Place the arctic char in the freezer for about half an hour so it becomes very cold (but ot frozen). Pull it out and slice filet very thin, place on a plate, season with salt, and pepper. Combine olive oil and lime juice and pour over the fish. Place the plate of fish in the firidge for about ½ hour or so before serving. Garnish with dill and chervil and serve the yogurt sauce on the side (mix all the ingredients in bowl).
SAUTEED KING CRAB LEGS W/SHELLFISH VINAIGRETTE
Here I went for a simple preparation of the king crab, served with a clean tasting shellfish dressing/vinaigrette, to let the crab shine. Serve with some garlic toast.
1 lb king crab legs, cut into 6 inch pieces
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp Pernod
a pinch of sugar
1 tbsp fresh tarragon
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh chives
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the king crab legs, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the mustard, fresh herbs, and Pernod and cook until reduced about 1/3, about 5 minutes. Then add in the lemon juice and cook for another two minutes. Stir in butter, and season to with salt, sugar and pepper. Serve right away, with sauce poured over crab legs or on the side.
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Slice the baguette into toast pieces, toast in the oven or in toaster, rub with garlic and drizzle a few drops of olive oil on each piece before serving.
HALIBUT W/BEET SAUCE AND PAN ROASTED HERBED POTATOES
What is a Norwegian inspired menu without halibut… luxuriously delicious, light and pairs easily with a wide variety of sides.. it remains one of my favorite meals to this day. Try it with a colorful beet sauce and some roasted potatoes – Norwegians love potatoes, and most people feel the dinner is incomplete without them! So here I pay homage to our potato obsession, while keeping it classy 🙂 If you don’t care for beets, you can just melt some butter and pour over the fish – equally tasty!
2 lbs halibut, divided into four pieces (boneless)
For the cod, bring a quart of water up to a boil and add about ½ cup of kosher salt. Bring heat down to a simmer and place the halibut in the water. Let the fish poach gently for about 8-10 minutes, be careful not to let the water boil.
1 beet, chopped small
½ cup white wine
2 cups fish stock
4 tbsp corn starch
2 stick unsalted butter, cube
In a medium sauce pan, add some olive oil and sauté the beet. Add the white wine and reduce to half the amount, about 10 minutes. Add the fish stock, and cook until the beets are tender (about 5 minutes). Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth and combined, add some butter during the whisking. Don’t continue cooking the sauce after the butter has bee added. Taste to with salt, pepper and lime juice.
4 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
Fresh Rosemary or Thyme
Dice the potatoes into quarters then again (into 2-inch cubes). Parboil the potatoes in a pot of salted water for about 5-10 minutes, drain and dry them well. Place an oven proof sauté pan over high heat o the stove, add a tbsp of oil , and add potatoes in one single layer (don’t overcrowd or they won’t crisp up). Saute for 5-10 minutes until brown on one side, then flip potatoes over, and place in a 400F with the butter and fresh herbs in the oven for another 10 minutes. Keep basting the potatoes with the butter and herbs, pull them out when the potatoes are golden brown and crisp.
Serve with your favorite root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots or sautéed greens (swiss chard or spinach).
ROAST GROUSE W/JUNIPER INFUSED CREME FRAICHE SAUCE
Grouse brings me back to the times spent at our cabin in the mountains about 1/2 hour from my childhood home, where my dad and his friends would go hunting for grouse. They brought back the birds and my mom would cook it that very same day for us. Served with an earthy, creamy sauce accompanied by mushrooms, brussels sprouts, lingonberry or rowanberry jam, this meal is the epitome of mountain living in Norway and the taste of nature! The meat is dark and very flavorful, but can easily be overcooked so be sure to pay attention! Grouse remains the most hunted game in our country, as it is found in nearly every mountainous region in Norway and therefore plentiful and easy to come across.
Realizing that grouse can be difficult to get your hands on in this part of the world, you can use squab or any other type of small bird, or even duck if you wish to. Just make sure to adjust cooking time according to size of the bird.
4 small grouse, cleaned
butter for sautéing
1 ¼ cup water or stock
1 ¼ cup milk
bunch of fresh thyme
3-4 juniper berries
For the sauce:
1 cup stock from the grouse pot
1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
rowanberry jelly (available in specialty stores)
1 tbsp cornstarch for thickening, mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
Rinse the grouse and pat dry with paper towels. Tie them up so the thighs are neatly tucked in under the body. Season with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and brown the grouse on all sides, about 1-2 minutes each. Place them in a large pot and add the water, milk and herbs/spices until the liquid covers the grouse by ¾. Bring to a boil and turn down, simmer under a lid until the grouse are tender, about 40 minutes (varies depending on size of grouse). Alternatively you can place the birds in the oven at 400F for about 9-10 minutes. Remove the grouse from the liquid when done and keep warm. Take the stock and boil down until about 1 ¼ cup remains. Strain into a new pot and whisk in the crème fraiche. Bring to a boil, add salt, pepper, rowanberry jelly and more spices if needed. Add the cornstarch mix. You can also melt in a couple of slices of “gjetost” (the Norwegian brown cheese) to the sauce, it gives it a nice, rich flavor! Some people prefer a port wine sauce with the grouse, there are certainly many alternatives – although this is regarded as the most traditional method of preparing grouse.
Serve the grouse along with the halibut – you can use the pan fried potatoes, and also serve the grouse with Brussels sprouts, pancetta and caramelized apples. Alternatively, sautéed chanterelles are also a delicacy, sauté them in a good amount of butter and add some thyme or rosemary, whisk in some heavy cream and season well with salt and pepper.
(adapted from Andreas Viestad)
Andreas is a fellow Norwegian who has had great success with his PBS cooking show “New Scandinavian Cooking”. I admire his talent as a storyteller and how he showcases the beautiful nature of Norway in each episode. I hope he doesn’t mind me including his delicious recipe for aquavit sorbet in this post. After all the food we’ve enjoyed this holiday season, what could be more perfect than a light, tasty sorbet with a hint of Norway to finish the year off?
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 star anise
2 cups water
the juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup Linie aquavit
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon zest, star anise and water and bring to boil over high heat. Boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and set aside to cool.
Strain the syrup into a bowl. Add the aquavit and place the bowl in the deep freezer. Take out and stir energetically with a fork every 30 minutes until completely frozen.