One of my favorite holiday foods is Rømmegrøt – a traditional Norwegian dish, a sour cream(rømme) porridge(grøt) typically eaten on Christmas Eve. I make it every year; it is one of our holiday traditions. I would say though it is delicious to serve any time during the cold winter months.
Last year I made another porridge type dish called Trondheim Soup, a gluten-free porridge. So this year I decided to devise a gluten-free version of Rømmegrøt. I have always made it in the past using cream of wheat, which obviously wasn’t going to work anymore.
Rømmegrøt is a rich, flavorful, stick-to-your-bones kind of food. Perfect for cold weather! It is also a tradition in Norway for children to put out a bowl of porridge for the Nisser–the elves on Christmas eve! Although these elves have nothing to do with Santa, they are associated with and originate from Norwegian farm life. These are the elves that look after the farm animals–and in return for their protection, they want their Christmas porridge on Christmas Eve, so of course we oblige, we owe it to the sheep, goats and chickens!
Rømmegrøt is very easy to make, it is a one pot meal. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of butter, cream, etc. in this dish, if you are using high quality fats, this is good for you, especially in the cold of winter. The most essential ingredient is the rømme – a very high quality full-fat sour cream. We use Green Valley Organics Lactose Free sour cream because Roberto is having trouble with dairy these days, and having good lactose free products just makes life easier. Just make sure the sour cream you use doesn’t have gelatin or other stabilizers added. Or you can just make your own!
Milk is another important ingredient. I used some local raw milk from Applecheek Farm, but you could use any organic milk – raw if you can, or grassfed if you can’t find raw. The only other things you need are a thickener – I used oat bran this year and then some salt. This delectable porridge is then topped with a pat of butter to make the all-important smørøya, literally: “butter island” (isn’t that awesome that there is actually a word for that?), cinnamon, sugar and dried currants or raisins. In Trondheim where I lived, this dish is traditionally eaten as the main meal on Christmas eve with a variety of dried cured meats. If you like you could try serving this for breakfast, or even dessert. It is just that good.
Rømmegrøt (recipe adapted from The Norwegian Kitchen)
1 quart of high quality, full fat sour cream
3/4 cup oat bran
1 quart of full fat milk
Salt to taste
Toppings: butter, cinnamon, raw cane sugar and dried currants or raisins
Simmer the sour cream for about 15 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Stir in the oat bran and bring to a boil, while continuing to keep an eye on it and stir often to prevent burning. If butterfat leaches out of the cream, remove it and save for later. In a separate saucepan, bring milk to a boil and use it to thin the porridge to the desired consistency. Then season with salt. You can use the reserved butterfat to swirl on top of the porridge to serve (instead of creating a smørøya). Serves 8. Recipe can be easily halved.