Smoky sausage with dill creamed potatoes (Isterband med dillstuvad potatis)

Isterband med dillstuvad potatis

It is time for another post on traditional Swedish food – husmanskost – and this time one of my father’s absolute favourites. Isterband is a smoky, slightly acidous and grainy sausage made of heart and tongue, originally from the Småland region. It is typically served with stewed potato and pickled beetroot, and to me it tastes of autumn like few other things – it belongs with the smell of burning leaves and crisp air. It is hearty, warm and packed with flavour.

Isterband ingredienser

You need:
– 1 pack of Isterband (this will be difficult to get a hold of outside of Sweden, but could probably be substituted with some other kind of large smoked sausage).
– One heap of fresh dill, chopped
– A few tablespoons of flour
– About 100 grams of butter
– A few decilitres of milk
– 1/5 kg of potatoes, a firm variety.
– Nutmeg
– Salt and white pepper to taste
– A jar of sliced pickled beetroots

Stuvning

Dill stewed potatoes is a mild, standard side to any smoky Swedish food, and very easy to make. It relies on the usual suspects for flavouring (dill and white pepper) together with the creaminess of milk and butter. Start by peeling, slicing and boiling the potatoes. Make the slices thick so that they don’t break in the water, and be careful not to overcook them. Start frying the sausages on a low heat in a wide pan (they should fry for about 25 minutes). Then make a bechamel base by melting the butter in the pan, and carefully whisking in flour until you have a thick paste.

Stuvning

Add milk slowly to the paste, to make a thick, creamy sauce. You can choose how voluptuous you like the sauce to be – if you want the supreme, extend it with cream or a bit of creme fraiche. If you’re feeling frugal, go with milk, which is the classic way of making it.

Stuvning

One you’ve reached a thick, smooth consistency, add salt and white pepper (you can be rather generous). Add the chopped dill and some nutmeg, then pour the sauce over the potatoes. Take the sausages off the pan and serve immidiately. The heavy smokiness of the sausages is rather dominant, and the potatoes are there to provide a smooth, mild balance. By serving this with pickled beetroot you also get a sweet contrast to the rest. It’s a well-balanced, autumnal and most warming meal.

Stuvad potatis

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Breakfast Fetishism pt. 3: Kedgeree

Kedgeree is a slightly odd Anglo-Indian dish stemming from the Colonial era, encapsulating smoked haddock, curry powder, rice and milk. I know those taste combinations sound odd, but it is actually really nice: imagine a lemony and fresh biryani with smoked fish. The oddness of the dish, married with the fact that it is a breakfast classic (indeed so much of a classic people don’t make it much anymore), meant that it was predestined to end up as a Breakfast Fetishism item on the blog. I made my first attempt at making it this morning. This was brought on by Mr Meatball’s grandmother’s reminiscing about the dish the other day: born in Shanghai in 1928, she recalls this dish being served on silver plates in houses that had butlers!

The end result was very tasty: savoury and mellow through the smokiness of the fish but refreshing with the spices and the lemons. Admittedly it would perhaps not be the first thing I’d think to eat in the morning, but rice and fish are good ingredients to last you through the day so I may have to reconsider that. You need:

  • 400g smoked haddock (I bought frozen dyed haddock from Waitrose – theirs is sustainable and good quality but much cheaper than the stuff you get in the fresh section)
  • 450 g basmati rice (preferably good quality as rice is central to the dish)
  • 2 green chillies, chopped into rings with their seeds
  • 1 large onion (a sweet Spanish variety would work nicely)
  • 1 large tablespoon mild curry powder
  • 2 crushed cardamom pods
  • A handful of chopped coriander and chives
  • 3 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 lemon, cut into slices
  • 140 g butter (this is important, I did perhaps not use quite enough in my first attempt)
  • Nutmeg (optional, to sprinkle on top in the end)

Start by putting the rice in cold water and let it stand for up to half an hour. There’s a whole school on being able to cook basmati rice properly and I’m still a novice, which explains why I use Mr Meatball’s coffee brewer to rinse the rice (some people have an angel’s patience with my kitchen experiments…). While the rice soaks, poach the defrosted fish gently by putting it in a pan on low heat, and cover it with 50/50 cold milk and water. After ten minutes (or until the fish is done, you want to be careful not to over-cook it), take it off the heat. Preserve the liquid milk/water is was cooking in.

Now, depending on if you want your kedgeree to be dry and fluffy, or wet and buttery you proceed through the next two steps differently. I made mine dry and fluffy, but Delia’s wetter version sounds quite nice and I think I might go along that next time.

For a wet kedgeree, you fry the butter in the pan, add your onions to soften for a few minutes and then add the curry powder, green chili and cardamom pods to fry for a few seconds. Then add your rinsed rice, and pour in 450 ml of the milk/water liquid. Bring to boil, and give a brisk stir before putting on a tight-fitting lid and cooking on low heat for 20 minutes.

If you want a fluffier kedgeree, you fry the onion and spices in the butter separately to the rice, and cook the rice with a tight-fitting lid on according to your harshest basmati-instructions (these are usually on the packet: for me it included not opening the lid of the pan for 25 minutes and then letting it rest on a wet towel, still with the lid on, for five minutes).

Once the rice cooking is done, for both methods, you add the flaked fish (which you remove the skin from whilst the rice is cooking), boiled eggs and lemon juice. Serve with mango chutney and scatter coriander across the top.

(If possible, find some silver in the house, stream Downton Abbey from itv player and pretend your name is Phyllis or Marguerite, and the butler just brought this to your table.)


Hot smoked salmon salad with apple and dill

Here comes another post about Swedish food, as I’ve been stuffing myself with it for the last month. Seafood is central in Nordic cuisine, and one of my favourite everyday fishes, described as “salmon candy” by the people at The Local, is hot smoked salmon (varmrökt lax). It is supposedly the inferior, cheaper version to what is known as smoked salmon (or gravadlax if you’re eating somewhere pretentious where they a) can’t spell to gravlax and b) are trying to overcharge you for something that tastes and looks just like smoked salmon). But despite its pitiful wikipedia entry, hot smoked salmon is in fact WAY better than cold smoked salmon. It is less greasy, less oddly textured, less likely to leave an unpleasant smell on your fingers. And it is more fully flavoured, richer, warmer in its toners and just generally more moreish. Incidentally, it also goes incredibly well with tangy apples and buttery King Edward potatoes in a creamy dill and dijon dressing. So here is the best salad I’ve tried for at least a year.
You need:
  • 500 g hot smoked salmon
  • 5 king Edward potatoes (or some other soft kind, this is important as it draws up the dressing)
  • 3 large green apples
  • 1 lemon squeeze (for the water you put your apples in if they’re waiting around to be mixed in the salad)
For the dressing
  • 5 tbsp rapeseed oil (as mentioned in previous posts, olive oil is not at home with Swedish flavours)
  • 2 tbsp white vine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 pack of chives, finely chopped

Start by peeling and cutting your potatoes into the salad size you prefer, then boil under a careful eye as they really shouldn’t be overcooked – King Edward is a sensitive sort for this. In the meantime peel, core and and thinly slice your apple slices, and put them in a bowl of water with little lemon juice in it to keep them from browning. Make your dressing by mixing everything but the finely cut herbs in a jar, and give it a good shake. Then add the herbs, and put to one side. If the potatoes are done at this point, you may want to mix them with your drained apples and softly mix in the dressing (be careful not to crush the potatoes whilst doing this). If you want the salad to look pretty, cut out a beautiful part of the salmon and place on top of your potatoes and apples, with some dill decorating it. However, it tastes better if you – again, carefully – mix it all together as the round smokiness of the salmon then infuses with the apple.

Serve with some rye bread and blonde beer. Enjoy.

Just look at that beauty.


Smoked salmon pie (Sveas laxpaj) with beetroot & blue cheese salad

This is perfect summery picnic food as it’s almost more delicious cold than hot. Smoked salmon pie is my farming gran Svea’s recipe, but it’s been quite changed here to adapt for what’s available in England. It is still delicious, though. Large cubes of gravad lax is too expensive in London to make pie out of – or to be eaten by students full stop – so we made it with sainsbury’s smoked salmon trimmings instead. The pie crust was the same Read the rest of this entry »