8 November 2010

Lapskaus: a Hearty Norwegian Stew - Recipe

At this time of year in Norway comfort foods really come into their own. In the Nibbler kitchen hearty dishes such as unctuous braises, calming casseroles and soothing soups are the order of the day, providing succour against nature’s relentlessly cold and wet onslaught. Perhaps nothing is designed to warm the belly and breathe fire into the soul as well as the Norwegian dish of lapskaus. Not to be confused with its Germanic cousin – labskaus – this stout, no-nonsense Norwegian stew is born of this rugged land and is enjoyed all over the country.

At its heart, lapskaus is a stew of meat and root vegetables. The main types of lapskaus are: lys (light) lapskaus, made with lightly salted pork knuckle; suppelapskaus, which is a thinner, soupier type of stew; and brun (brown) lapskaus, which uses beef and stock or gravy to make a rich, thick stew. Like most stews, though, there are a myriad of variations. Some add onions, garlic, bacon or mushrooms, some like it thin and watery, others so thick you need to cut it with a knife. There isn't really a 'correct' version, but as this was the first time I tried to make it, I wanted to make something as close to 'original' as I could.

I made a brun lapskaus with beef, but lightened it a touch by using fresh chicken stock. You should pick a cut of beef from a part of the animal that has worked for a living. The long, slow cooking will transform the tough cuts into chunks of meltingly tender meat. I used chuck steak, but brisket or flank would also be suitable.

For the root vegetables I used the common earthy ensemble of potatoes, carrots, swede (rutabaga), and parsley root. The edges of the potatoes will gradually dissolve into the stew, making it thicker. I chop the potatoes a bit smaller than the rest of the vegetables to help this process. The idea, though, is not to stir too much during cooking; otherwise the vegetables will just disintegrate.

Lapskaus is best served with lots of flatbrød (flat bread) and sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley – don't leave this out as its flavour here is a fantastic addition and really lifts the dish. And, like most stews, it tastes even better the next day.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 1.3 kg chuck steak (off the bone and trimmed of excess fat), cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 6 large carrots, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
  • 300 g parsley roots, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
  • 750 g swede (rutabaga), chopped into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 kg floury potatoes such as Kerrs Pink or Maris Piper, chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 1.5 ltr fresh chicken stock
  • 30g butter
  • Freshly chopped parsley to garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Method
  1. Melt the butter in a large casserole pot and brown the meat in batches
  2. Add the chopped vegetables and the browned meat, pour over the stock and add some salt and pepper
  3. Bring to the boil. You may need to skim the stew a couple of times
  4. Cover the casserole with a tight fitting lid and let it simmer gently for 2½ hours, but don't stir too often otherwise the vegetables will turn to mush
  5. After 2½ hours or so the meat should be very tender, check and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the stew is too thick you can always thin it out with more stock or water
  6. Serve in large bowls, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve with plenty of of flatbrød

8 comments:

  1. I have never used parsley root, can you describe what it's like, in flavour/ texture?
    x

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  2. Hi Kavey! I had never seen parsley root before moving to Norway, but it is used quite a bit here in soups and stews.

    It looks almost identical to a parsnip, but is smaller and whiter and tastes quite different - milder and sweeter, with a taste of carrot/celery/parsley.

    You could easily substitute it with parsnip though. In fact, when I first moved here I thought it was parsnip and used it instead. Still tasted good though!

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  3. Oh my goodness this dish just looks bursting with flavour. Parsley root is new to me as well.

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  4. Yum scrum - looks delicious - have just started a series of stews (nothing better than a stew in this chilly weather) putting my Slow Cooker to use - what do you reckon, would this one work in the SC? Worth a try?! I think so!!

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  5. @Gourmet Chick: I'm a big fan of making one-pot-wonders and the mix of flavours here is so comforting - a perfect winter warmer!

    @nibblescribbler: I've never used a slow cooker before, but I would think this dish would be ideal for one. No idea about cooking times/temperatures though. Let me know how you get on!

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  6. That I will - await the results (and hope that there are no kitchen explosions).

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  7. I grew up with this as a staple dinner item as my mom was from Norway. Our's (a brun lapskaus) always included pølser, cut into bite sized chunks, which gives it a nice smokey note. Nice to see a Scandinavian food site!

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  8. Half Norwegian and married to a true Viking. Made this today and it is VELDIG GODT (very good)! The root veggies are what gives it so much flavor.

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