As you know from my previous posts, food is an important part of the Yule traditions in Norway. Christmas eve is the time for the family gathering and holiday dinner. Church bells throughout the land are ringing in Christmas at 5 o’clock and then the great celebration starts. I remember so well that time when I was a child. How we all sat around the coffee table and the children were delirious with anticipation. We had to eat dinner – that was a part of the ritual – but what we really were waiting for was the chance to open the presents. Every year one of our uncles would dress up as Santa Claus and sneak out of the house and come again to the door and deliver presents to all us good boys and girls, and you can believe we were GOOD just then!!
Growing older, I also learned to really enjoy the food too and today I’m going to share a very traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve dish: Pinnekjøtt (rib of lamb). On the net, I’ve found that 56% of the populations eat Ribbe (roosted rib) and 31% eats Pinnekjøtt. As you can see in the picture to the left, the dinner is served. So why don’t you sit in while I tell you a bit about this dish from the start until it’s served:
Pinnekjøtt (literally “stick meat”) is actually traditional in the western parts as they have a lot of sheep. I’ve eaten it for the last 20 years though, as I think Ribbe is a bit too fatty. Pinnekjøtt is salted, dried and sometimes smoked lamb’s ribs which then are steamed, over birch branches, and served with potato, mashed rutabaga, beer and aquavit. One debate is if it is called stick meat because of the visual nature of the individual rib bones or from the birch sticks which are made into a steaming rack in the kettle. I’ll go for the last explanation and as you can see in the kettle above, there are sticks (a bit modern nowadays as we don’t cut and whittle them ourselves, but buy them in the grocery). You have to soak the meat in water over night to take out some of the salt and make it tender again.
The picture above shows my plate and how I like it. You see the potatoes, Pinnekjøtt, mashed rutabaga and Brussels sprouts (my favourite) and on the lower part of the plate, you find lingon berries. The beer and the aquavit is a must too, of course:-)
Yuletide is full of food traditions in Norway and the Nordic countries, so stay tuned as there will be more culinary posts to come! Until then: I wish you all a Happy Holiday Season:-)