Fårikål

Fårikål

I wrote about this Norwegian dish on my Tumblr a few years ago. Making it last night reminded me how incredibly simple but delicious it is, so I thought I’d republish it here.

The translation of fårikål is “lamb (or mutton) in cabbage” which, to be honest, probably isn’t making you want to try it. However, I urge you to as it’s a very plain dish on the face of it but easy to make and very delicious, wholesome and warming: the ultimate comfort food. It’s traditional to eat it in the autumn in Norway, but there’s no reason at all not to make it in February or any other (winter) month.

I was interested and delighted to read that the recipe Magnus Nilsson gives for this dish in his wonderful The Nordic Cook Book is more or less the same as the one that’s been handed down to me by Norwegian grandmother via my mother.

Here’s what you do.

Take some chunky pieces of lamb on the bone. My mother used to use chump chops, but I’m not sure if this term is used these days.

Take a large white cabbage (or a green one, but my mother always used white so that is what I do too), or a small one if you’re only cooking for a couple of people. Cut it into fairly large wedges.

In a casserole or large saucepan layer the cabbage and the lamb, sprinkle in some salt and fill it half way up with water.

You now need to add black peppercorns and it’s very handy if you have one of these spice infusers (see photo). When I was growing up my mother would bring these back from Norway for all her friends. I’ve never seen them in the shops here but my husband spotted this “Spice Infuser GUSTO” from Gefu online which I’m sure will do the same job. IMG_2009You fill it with whole black peppercorns and place it in among your lamb and cabbage. Then you simply remove it at the end of cooking and diners don’t have to bite into peppercorns, which can a)  give them a fright or b) break their teeth. It’s also not very pleasant. Of course if you haven’t got one you can tie the peppercorns (about a tablespoonful) in a muslin bag or indeed live dangerously and leave them loose in your stew.

 

Bring the whole thing to the boil on the boiling plate and then place it, covered, in the simmering oven for a minimum of two hours but preferably longer until the lamb and cabbage are tender.

Some like to thicken their fårikål by dusting the raw lamb pieces with flour, but I have never done this and don’t think it’s necessary.

Serve with plain boiled potatoes and plenty (and I mean a lot) of chopped parsley.

 

 

Sunday Lunch: Roast Chicken and Apple Crumble

Sunday Lunch: Roast Chicken and Apple Crumble

I could be wrong but I get the impression fewer people are doing a roast on Sundays these days. Some of my emptynester friends say they only bother when their offspring return home or if they have guests. Even after my youngest went off to university last year I continued to cook a Sunday roast, partly because it’s the one occasion each week when we haul my frail and elderly mother-in-law upstairs from her flat below to join us and partly because, well, it’s delicious. My children tell me they’ve always enjoyed the weekly ritual and this pleases me because it means it’s worth the (not necessarily huge) effort. When I was pottering about in my kitchen, one recent Sunday morning, it struck me that one doesn’t have to spend very long preparing the roast and that simple does not have to mean dull. And of course if you are too busy during the day pursuing the leisure activity of your choice, you and your family can have this meal in the evening rather than try to fit it in at lunchtime.

So this post is about proving that it needn’t be hugely time-consuming or arduous and outlining how I made roast chicken and apple crumble in two hours flat. It is also to show you that not all Aga cooking is long and slow, which is not to say that slow roasting isn’t an excellent way of making the most of an Aga: you can put your joint of meat in the simmering oven before bed on Saturday night or bright and early on Sunday morning and have meltingly tender meat for lunch or supper on Sunday. I did this recently with a pork belly and it was one of the best roasts we’ve ever had.

On this particular Sunday I took the bird out of the fridge about an hour before I wanted to cook it, to let it come up to room temperature, and then, having popped out to buy the Sunday papers, I started on the lunch preparation. I roasted the potatoes around the chicken. They absorbed the buttery garlicky juices and the flavour and texture were superb. I love them done this way (and it saves time and washing-up) but they were not crisp. If you want crisp, you’ll have to par-boil them for 5 minutes and then roast them in very hot duck or goose fat in a tin on the floor of the roasting oven for about thirty minutes.

Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole free-range chicken weighing about 1.5kg
  • Unsalted butter
  • Several (quantity up to you but a minimum of 8) garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • About 8 bay leaves
  • A sprinkling, ie to taste, of Lakeland Herb Sea Salt
  • Potatoes: one or two per person, peeled and chopped into large chunks. I used these red potatoes on this occasion but any variety will do. In the summer I use new potatoes: just halve the larger ones and there’s no need to peel them

Method

  • Place your chicken in a roasting tin with enough room around it for the potatoes
  • Spread butter generously all over the bird and sprinkle with the herb sea salt or if you don’t have any, just salt and pepper
  • Place one garlic clove and one bay leaf in the cavity
  • Slide the tin onto the second rung of the roasting oven and leave it there for 20 minutes before removing it, basting it with the buttery juices and placing the potatoes and remaining garlic cloves and bay leaves around it, turning them to coat them in the butter too
  • Return the tin to the roasting oven, this time on the fourth rung, for about an hour. Half way through, turn the potatoes and give the chicken another baste
  • The chicken is done when a thigh is pierced with a sharp knife and the juices run clear
  • Remove the bird to a large plate or board, keeping it near the Aga and maybe covering it with a clean tea-towel. Discard the garlic and bay leaves and place the potatoes in a serving dish in the simmering oven to keep warm while you make some gravy
  • All I do for this is deglaze the roasting tin with some white wine on the simmering plate and then pour all of this through a sieve into a small pan to bubble away for a few minutes, adding more wine or some stock and whatever else you fancy: for example, you could whisk in a little crème fraîche. Decant this into a small jug and keep it warm on the back of the Aga while you get everyone to the table and find someone to carve your bird
  • I will leave the choice of accompanying vegetables to you but the other day I served ours with steamed Savoy cabbage tossed with a little butter and lots of black pepper added

Apple Crumble

(Serves 4-6)

You can be making this while the chicken is roasting. This is the basic recipe; feel free to add cinnamon and/or some raisins to the apples; or reduce the amount of apple by 25 per cent and replace with blackberries when in season.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cooking apples
  • 110g/4oz unsalted butter
  • 110g/4oz plain flour
  • 110g/4oz ground almonds
  • 110g/4oz golden caster sugar plus an extra heaped tablespoon
  • A heaped dessert spoon of demerara

Method

  • First make the crumble by placing the butter, flour, almonds and sugar in a large bowl and using your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can of course do this in a food processor
  • Peel and slice the apples, putting the slices straight into the dish you want to bake the crumble in. Add some lemon juice to stop the apples from turning brown
  • Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top, smooth it over and then press it down with the back of a spoon
  • To finish, run a fork lightly over the surface and sprinkle over the demerara
  • Bake in the baking oven, with the rack on the fourth rung, for about half an hour until golden brown on top and the apples feel soft when a knife is inserted into them