We’re currently in the middle of “Romulen” – the bit between Xmas and New Year – and it feels so much like Christmas. It has snowed every day since last Wednesday and pretty much every morning we’re having to dig a path out from the front door. It’s been brilliant…my first white Christmas…ever! Given that Norwegians mainly celebrate on Christmas Eve I was really keen to make our celebrations as authentic as possible. So with the advice from friends and colleagues I built my Norwegian Menu! See below for a quick guide on what Norwegians eat for Christmas.
Lunch Time: Grøtris and a marzipan pig!
This is like rice pudding. You cook it up (takes about 45 minutes) and add brown sugar and a chunk of butter. It’s really quite nice. The trick here is add an almond to the mix and whoever gets the almond wins a marzipan pig. I don’t know why but for some reason, marzipan pigs are quite popular in Norway and Christmas time.
During the day: Biscuits
Norwegians traditionally cook up 7 different types of biscuits during Christmas time. We bought a box of Pepperkaker (gingerbread) and a Kransekake from Baker Hansen. Kransekake means ‘wreath cake’ and is built up from circular biscuits. These biscuits are hard and crunchy on the outside but very chewy on the inside. They’re made from almonds, sugar and egg whites - apparently fat free! They are often decorated with chocolates, norwegian flags and Christmas Crackers! Very nice. Here’s a recipe >>>
Dinner: Pinnekjøtt (racks of lamb) or Ribbe (pork ribs)
I cooked Pinnekjøtt on Christmas Day and Ribbe on Boxing Day. Both are typically eaten by Norwegians at Christmas time and both take time to prepare.
Pinnekjøtt is cured and very salty so it’s necessary to soak it in water for 30 hours before cooking changing the water 3 times during that period. When cooking, it’s necessary to get a big pot and lay some birch twigs at the bottom in a criss-cross format – thanks to Atle (our Finance Director in SAP Norway) who bought me some from the local supermarket. Once you lay the meat on top of the sticks you fill the pot with water to just below the top of the sticks and let the meat steam for about 3 hours – topping up the water once or twice. Once cooked, Pinnekjøtt is served up with boiled potatoes and mashed swede. Whilst the smell is a little weird, the taste is really nice! This is often served up with Akvavit – a Norwegian liquor that is high in alcohol content but helps with digestion. Here’s a recipe >>>
Ribbe is quite fatty and requires salt and pepper to be rubbed into the crackling top the day before cooking. It’s then cooked in the oven (much like you would roast pork) and then served up with potatoes, surkaal (red and white cabbage), medisterkaker (meat balls), julepolse (christmas sausage which is boiled in water) and gravy. It’s quite delicious and again, served up with Akvavit to help digest the fatty meat. Here’s a recipe >>>
Dessert: Multekrem: Multe (cloudberry) is the queen of Norwegian berries. Because it’s quite rare and difficult to harvest, it’s pricier than other berries. Multekrem is whipped cream with cloudberries and sugar and is often the dessert of choice for special occasions – including Christmas dinner. We made this and served it up in Krumkake baskets – another of the seven biscuits. Once I find out the other four I’ll update this post! Here’s a recipe >>>
As you can imagine – we were quite stuffed and exhausted at the end of this!