Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus
I know I said I was taking a break – but here is one more post for the year!
Monday marked the holiday of Winter Solstice or Yule as it was known to the Germanic peoples in pre-Christian times. The word Yule or Jul is still used in Nordic countries to describe the Holiday or Christmas season – which also coincides with the 12 Days of Christmas. Yuletide is a melding of the secular and religious celebrations of the season. Originally Yule was a Solstice celebration of the coming of the sun after the longest night and has been celebrated for likely as long as humans have been around to live through the longest night of the year and rejoice the longer days ahead.
I enjoy celebrating the Solstices and Equinoxes throughout the year. It helps me stay connected to the natural world and appreciate the natural cycles that could have meant life and death to our early ancestors if they were unprepared. In turn, these celebrations help me think about being more prepared in my own life by canning and preserving foods and enjoying a more seasonal bounty. Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the bright and joyous times in our lives and give thanks for days filled with more light and less harsh times.
I get very inspired to cook Norwegian foods this time of year. When I lived in Norway I really enjoyed all the special foods that were served and enjoyed during the Christmas season. Of course in my family we have own own traditional foods that we enjoy during this season too. So when I came back to the US, I decided that I would celebrate the Winter Solstice by feasting on Nordic cuisine, that way I could enjoy all of the food traditions that I love this time of year. Usually I make Gløgg and Rommegrøt however, I already made versions of them this year for my birthday party that you can read about on a guest post I contributed to Outside Oslo . So I wanted to make something different.
Pinnekjøtt is a dish that was served during the Christmas I lived in Norway. It is a preserved and roasted mutton rib dish. The mutton is generally cured in brine or sea salt and served on Christmas eve with boiled potatoes and Akvavit or Akevitt – a distilled potato or grain liquor that is typically flavored with caraway seeds. Pinnekjøtt means “stick meat” in Norwegian because traditionally a layer of twigs from a birch tree is placed in the bottom of the saucepan instead of a metal steamer.
Since I have no access to Pinnekjøtt, and did not plan for making it, I decided to make some Norwegian spiced meatballs – or Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus – meat-cakes with brown sauce for our Solstice dinner. Kjøttkaker are very common in Norway and every family has their own “in house” version. I made the gravy using turkey stock from our Thanksgiving bird, although a gravy made from beef is traditional. I also served it with roasted potatoes and carrots (why have boiled if you can have roasted? Even if it is not the traditional Norwegian way) and sauerkraut.
This is a quick but festive meal – and I enjoyed every bite, reliving many wonderful times spent in Norway.
For dessert we had Yule log cookies. The cookies are fragrant with rum and nutmeg, and the perfect crunchiness, while the icing made with brown butter is truly heavenly. We decorated them with some toasted coconut and cocoa powder to make them look more like logs. (Recipes under the cut)…
Speaking of cookies, don’t forget to make some treats for the furry creatures in your life. We just made some for Pepino and Cipollina today! For some healthy ones, try these Holiday Cookies for Pets .
Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays to everyone! Thanks for reading this blog! Wishing everyone health, happiness and love this New Year!
2 ¼ lb ground beef
2 TBS salt
4 tsp flour
2 TBS bread crumbs
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1 onion minced
1 tsp ground cloves
1 liter of brown gravy (or use homemade)
For Homemade Gravy:
3 cups of homemade stock (I used turkey)
salt & pepper to taste
splash of Akvavit
1 TBS non-GMO corn starch
Mix all ingredients together and form into oval shaped cakes. Make the gravy. In a small saucepan, mix the stock, salt and pepper and Akvavit. Heat over medium heat. Whisk in the corn starch and cook until thickened into gravy. Fry meatballs in butter on all sides, in a large pot. Add the brown gravy until thoroughly cooked – about 5 minutes.
Yule Log Cookies – see recipe at Kicked Up Cookie Recipes