Celebrating: Norwegian style

They’ve got a lot to be happy about in Norway today.


Firstly its national day when they celebrate their declaration as an independent nation in 1814 with parades, parties, flag waving and plenty of food. And to add to the festive atmosphere their Eurovision entry, Alexander Ryback, stormed to victory last night with the highest ever score recorded and over 150 points clear of his nearest rival. Its only the third time Norway have ever won and for many years they were rather more well known for their 1978 ‘nul points’ than anything else.  

 

 

So today I think they’ll all be going a little crazy. The flags will have been flying high on every building and there will be much merriment. Norwegians enjoy a good celebration and important events are marked with special dishes and the hoisting of your own flag on your very own flag pole; christenings, weddings, confirmation all have their own rituals but all involve the flying of the flag.  

And I’m going to join them by trying one of their celebratory dishes.


 

When I was researching my Eurovision inspired Norwegian breakfast I came across a dish called rømmegrøt that I wanted to try, but further investigation told me that its wasn’t a breakfast dish at all but more of a festival one. I think I was thrown by the translation of grøt as porridge.

So what is rømmegrøt? Well having now tried it earlier today I’d say it a kind of sour cream custard rather than porridge in the way we think of oat porridge here in the UK. It’s very rich and quite sweet and then you add cinnamon and sugar, although apparently it’s also traditional to serve it with fenalår (air dried lamb leg – a kind of lamb version of Serrano ham – its lovely though fairly strong flavoured).
 


Rømmegrøt really is a celebration or treat dish and as well as being served today (17 May, National Day) is served on occasions such as weddings, Christmas and harvest festival. At Christmas some might be left out for the Christmas pixie, a bit like we leave mince pies here, and on farms at harvest it is traditional to leave some out for the ‘nisser’ or house spirits to appease and thank them.  

Here’s the recipe I used, I went for the richest version to get the full on experience, some recipes are thinned down with milk and others use barley flour or semolina (I found at least 10 subtle variations).

Serves 4 (from The Norwegian Kitchen):

1 litre 35% sour cream (I used regular sour cream from the supermarket and that caused a small problem)
¾ cup plain flour
salt
sugar and cinnamon (or fenalår) as garnish

Simmer the sour cream for 15 minutes and then stir in the flour, keep cooking and the butterfat should rise to the surface and you skim this off but keep it. This didn’t happen and I guess the sour cream had too low a fat content (having looked at the label I think its only about 18%). The mixture will go lumpy and so whisk it to get it as smooth as possible. Add a little salt then serve with the reserved fat drizzled over and your choice of garnish (I had to cheat and pour over a little unsalted melted butter but that seemed to work). The book suggests that as this is so rich you might want to use it as a topping for other porridges such as rice porridge.

It was really tasty but so rich we could only eat a little sample. My husband thought it would be great with bananas and fruit or compote would also go well to make a really nice rich dessert dish. We’ve put the leftovers in the fridge to see if its tasty cold as well. I’ll report back.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Celebrating: Norwegian style”

  1. I admire your dedication, I’m all Eurovisioned out now! I like the sound of this as a sweet dish but struggle with the combination of sweet and savoury.

  2. TWO countries?! How did you do it all? Very impressive stuff though I’m not sure I can stomach this sour cream custard.

  3. Visiting you via Karen’s blog. Wonderful stuff you have! This dish sounds fantaastic. Nice to meet you.

  4. Thanks for all the comments. I really enjoyed trying this dish as something different from what I normally cook. I don’t think I’d want it with the traditional cured meat but as a sweet dish it was lovely. I tried it cold and its like a very firm version of panacotta, the sweetness it less obvious when its cool – its still rich though a good tart compote would help cut through it.

    Ginger/SuLin: too countries and this on top was a bit much. Ah well it was fun!

  5. This was one of my favorite dishes from when I lived in Norway, as it was so unusual from things I had ever eaten before – and it is actually great with the dried meat – it cuts the sweetness!

  6. Hey there- so glad you gave Rømmegrøt (or “rømmegraut”, as it’s called in the west coast region where I live) a go! It is totally rich and unbelievably filling. We like to eat it with raisins and “an eye” of butter- as if it weren’t fatty enought! Another common accompaniment is flatbread to go with the fenlår.

    Hurrah for Eurovision 2009! Norway is all a buzz about being next year’s host.

    -Siri
    (the former, Transplanted Baker- working on getting my site up and running again soon under a different domain).

  7. The rømmegrøt is far less custard-y whith semolina, so I would recommend you try that.
    Nice post, by the way.And nice blog :-)
    Greetings from happy Norwegian.

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