Today most people in Norway are back to work, after a long and welcome Christmas holiday. Winters are especially grueling here in the months of January and February, where temperatures often get into the teens and the snow is plentiful. In my part of the country we see light only a few hours of the day and if the sun shines, it’s a real treat. It is no wonder then, that most Norwegians put the focus on spending time at home, cooking dinners for their families but also for friends, choosing to entertain at home instead of going out. Having lived in New York for nearly 20 years, I frequently miss the hospitality and tradition of entertaining at home, as Americans in general have a culture of going out to eat – not just for dinner but also at breakfast and lunch. A certain sense of intimacy and warmth arises from inviting someone into your home, showing the guests that time, thought and care has been given in preparing a special meal just for you. While Norwegians may seem a bit “cold” and reserved at first, there is no doubt that once you gain a friend in Norway, it’s for life, and they will embrace you and invite you to their homes with frequent intervals.
So what do Norwegians eat on a regular basis? As my blog is quite new, most of you have slowly started to gain an understanding (hopefully) of what we serve at special occasions and holidays but let’s face it: we all need to eat during the rest of the year too! This week I will therefore focus on simple, heartwarming meals typical on a Norwegian table on a weekday; easy to prepare, using sometimes leftover ingredients but ultimately provide delicious flavors. Today I will cover a popular soup dish called “Brennsnut”, which translates into “Burnt snout”, because the soup is to be served piping hot. This is a specialty and classic from my region on Sunnmøre, and every household has at one time or another incorporated this dish into their weekly dinner menu. Simple and flavorful, this soup warms the soul and has the taste of “home”.
January was a month when most people had little to no dispensable cash, due to the extravagant month of December where every little ‘extra’ was used. What was left, however, may have been the bones of the mutton ribs (fenalår) eaten throughout the holiday. Making stock on these bones, provided a flavorful broth used to create a variety of soups, stews and as a base for other meals. Brennsnut was considered a “leftover feast” with recognizable flavors of Christmas, and because the soup developed even more complex flavors the next day, people would make enough brennsnut to last for days. Important, common ingredients in the soup include carrots, potatoes, leeks, rutabaga, and if you’re lucky there is also some additional sausage and meat. Buns made from eggs and flour are often added, I’ve included the option in the recipe below. Should you not have the fenalår bones, don’t despair – any other meat knuckles can be substituted.
In my house, brennsnut was served with homemade flatbrød, but a crusty baguette will do just fine. Alternatively you can make the special Norwegian “landbrød” (recipe to follow). My mouth is watering now and I’m off to the kitchen to start cooking!
about 1/2 lb meat (preferably from fenalår/mutton or some sort of salty meat)
1 kielbasa sausage
6 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 medium rutabaga, cubed
1/2 leek, sliced thin
1 1/4 quart water (or stock cooked on the mutton ribs)
2 tsp salt
2 bouillon cubes (if you don’t have the above mentioned stock)
In a large stock pot, cook the mutton meat in water for a couple of hours until the meat starts to loosen from the bones. Clean the meat off the bones and dice it (remove bones from soup). Add the vegetables into the meat stock, or into the water with the bouillon cubes if you don’t have the stock. Add the meat and the sausage and heat through. When everything is combined, add the egg buns.
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
all purpose flour
Mix eggs, sugar and milk and whisk until combined. Add enough flour to create a sufficiently firm dough. Using a spoon, shape into round balls and add into the brennsnut, let it simmer on low heat for about 10-12 minutes until cooked through.
Norway and Scandinavia as a whole, has a reputation for delicious baked goods, and bread plays an important part of everybody’s diet. We eat bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – as snacks and even at night. Landbrød is simply Norwegian for “country bread” and here is our version !
50 grams fresh yeast (or 4 tsps dry yeast)
3 cups water
1 tbsp salt
2 3/4 lbs all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 450F.
Mix the yeast into warm water and add into the flour. Mix in salt. Knead the dough for a long time, shape into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise under a towel in a warm spot for about 1 1/2-2 hours. Punch down and pour onto a floured surface, continuing to knead and shape into big, round loaf. Let it rise once again for 45 minutes.
Place onto a baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to about 400F and bake for another hour. Turn off the oven and let the bread sit in the oven for another 15 minutes.