Traditional home cooked Swedish food is called “Husmans Kost” or simply “Husman”. The word is derived from “husman” which referred to the owner of a small house that didn’t own any land back in the farming days. The concept was originally a generic term for cheap and simple food eaten in the country by farmers. Nowadays it represents classic Swedish home cooking.
Most people would associate Swedish food with meatballs and raw fish which of course are proudly Swedish. However, there’s a lot more to Swedish cooking. Swedish and Scandinavian food is getting recognised as a serious food contender, just think of Noma in Copenhagen or Aquavit in New York. In his cookbook “Jamie Does” Jamie Oliver dedicated a chapter on Swedish food describing it as “big, bold, brave and definitely up there with the best in the world”.
Seeing Sweden is traditionally a farming country and a cold one at that, the classic food is filling and hearty and mostly uses cheap cuts of meat with root vegetables and potatoes and pretty much always served in a sauce. Spices are pretty much contained to salt and black or white pepper. There’s a lot of slow cooking and fermenting. In other words it’s perfect winter food for the whole family and with a few tweaks it’s a balanced, hearty and filling meal.
The other night as the rain was pouring down here in Sydney I got my trusted Swedish cookbook out for inspiration. It’s one of those basic cookbooks that’s been around since the 60s and gets updated every now and then. Petty much everyone in Sweden would own one of these cookbooks, it’s a traditional graduation present from your mum or grandmother, my mum still uses hers that she was given back in the mid 70s. I love this cookbook, it started off my now rather large cookbook collection and it’s got spills and fingermarks all through it but it brings me back to Sweden and all the food I grow up eating.
So the dish I decided to cook is called “Får i kål” translated as “Sheep in cabbage”, I know it doesn’t sound very appealing but I promise that it tastes a lot nicer than it sounds, and it uses lamb rather than the stronger tasting sheep.
FAR I KAL – SLOW COOKED LAMB IN CABBAGE
Serves 4-6 People
- 1.5kg of lamb shoulder cut into pieces with the bone left in (ask your butcher to do this)
- 1 small head of white cabbage sliced
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 6 onions sliced
- 1 carrot sliced into rounds
- 10 white pepper corn
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 tbs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbs fresh parsley to serve
- Put the meat in a casserole dish, pour over boiling water to just cover the meat, bring to the boil and skim off any white foam
- Fry the cabbage and onion in olive oil and add to the casserole dish together with the meat and all other ingredients except the parsley
- Simmer for approx. 90min until the meat is very tender and starting to fall off the bones
- Decorate with parsley and serve with cauliflower mash