“Little Christmas Eve” or “lillejulaften” is an important evening of the Christmas celebration in Norway. As Norwegians celebrate mostly on Christmas Eve (December 24th) and Christmas Day is more of an afterthought, this evening is either enjoyed at home with a nice charcuterie spread or spent out partying until the wee hours. When I was younger I fell in the latter category although I equally enjoyed spending the evening at home with my family enjoying some tasty snacks while watching TV and anxiously awaiting the next big day. My niece just sent me the following picture from their table tonight – a classic image of what people might enjoy this evening:
Cured, dried leg of mutton with a dried pork or mutton sausage specially made for the holidays, a typical Norwegian “flatbread” (recipe to come in a future post) and the highlight (for me); the delicious potato salad. Our potato salad is tangier and more refreshing than the American version, as we add very little mayonnaise, and rather prioritize sour cream, pickle juice and fresh lemon juice. I’m going to give away our secret family recipe here – something I should charge for but won’t – as it will be my Christmas recipe to you all!! While my niece enjoyed her “julebrus” (Christmas soda), I most likely would have enjoyed a nice Norwegian Christmas beer or a fruity red wine such as a Syrah or Malbec for reds, or a nice, crisp Riesling – to each his own.
The dish can also include “eggerøre” – which is curdled eggs, basically eggs mixed with a little water (or milk), seasoned with salt, pepper and chopped chives cooked in a skillet over low heat. Eggerøre is also a popular companion to smoked salmon, either on its own or as a topping on an open faced sandwich.
This platter is the closest we come to “tapas” in Norway and is definitely one of my favorite meals of the holiday!
NORWEGIAN POTATO SALAD
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
3 Cups sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1-2 lemons
6-7 pickles, diced
1/2 cup pickle juice
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
Fresh chives, minced
Boil the potatoes in salted water until done, about 20 minutes or until a knife inserts easily. Drain and cool. Dice up into 1 inch pieces, and add into a big bowl. Add all other ingredients, mix until well combined. The mix shouldn’t be too soupy but not too dry. Serve chilled with your favorite charcuterie!