Fjord Foods

I have been a very bad blogger since I have already started falling behind on my goal to post once a week.  I still have been cooking my planned international meals, but I am over a week late for this blog post.  I’m hoping to have this week’s meal posted in the next couple days also so that will get me back on track.  Ok, self-deprecating tirade over?  Good.  Moving on.

Last week’s mission was Norway.  Now, I’m not going to lie, this challenge is taking a lot out of me, especially when I tackle giant dinner parties like Lunar New Year.  So I might have phoned it in a little with Norway, but just know, I still have the best of intentions and I am still trying to stay true to traditions of each country as best I can.  But man, if I don’t eat another fish/potato/cabbage meal for a while, I’ll be completely fine with that.  If you guys haven’t learned by now, all of these northern European countries have cuisine rooted in readily available ingredients and conservation of foods for long storage.  Norway is no different in this.  They eat a lot of fish and game with potatoes and root vegetables and preservation and cooking methods include smoking, fermenting, and pickling.  For example, lutefisk is a dried, aged white fish that is steeped in lye.  Pickled herring is also very popular.  Refrigeration was non-existent in terms of traditional Norwegian cuisine so these methods of preservation were key.

I decided to not go the fish route, however, and since the cold weather has returned with a vengeance, I thought that a nice, hot lapskaus dish was in order.  Lapskaus is a meat stew made with beef or pork and usually various vegetables like potatoes, carrots, leeks, and rutabaga.  Since I had a crazy busy week and many hours of work, I prepped this dish in the morning and let it cook in my crockpot all day.  That way I could come home to delicious, ready to eat stew!

I took a nice hunk of pork shoulder and cut it into chunks and then mixed it in a bowl with salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, and shallots.  The most important thing about cooking meat in a crock pot is to brown it first.  You want to sear the outside of the pork on the stove first and then add it to the crock pot with the vegetables or it won’t cook properly.  This process of searing first and then stewing slowly in liquid is braising, for those not in the know.  So I seared the pork in batches in a skillet and then put them in the crock pot with sliced onions, carrots, potatoes, beef stock, a little more salt and just a little bit of sugar.  I also added some water to make sure that all the meat was completely submerged.  Then all you have to do is put on the lid, cook on low and leave it alone.  If you happen to be around while it is cooking, you might want to check it every once in a while and skim the top, but I found that when I checked on it at the end of the day, I was able to skim the fat off the top and didn’t have any issues.  When I opened it up after about 8 hours of cooking, I skimmed the top, like I said, and added some flour to thicken the sauce a little, gave it a stir and let it sit for at least another half hour.  This stew is usually served with flatbrød or some kind of grovbrød (coarse bread).  Bread is pretty common in Norwegian cuisine and it is usually a whole grain or often even oat.  Sorry for the lack of pictures this time around, but it is difficult to take photos when you aren’t there during the cooking and you only have one dish.

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I did watch Frozen to get me in a “fjord mood” and even though Arendelle is technically a fictional place, it was inspired by Nærøyfjord and there is a town on the southern coast called Arendal so I decided to let it go.  😉  I also made sure to eat some lox last week to keep me in the Norwegian frame of mind.

Stay tuned for the next Scandinavian stop: Sweden!  Coming soon.

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