Fårikål is Norway’s national dish. A casserole of seasonal lamb and cabbage makes this simple dish a favourite autumn treat. It is traditionally served with new potatoes, cowberry sauce and crispy flat bread with a cold local beer on the side (but ice water allows the flavour to be savoured).
Norwegians expect this dish to get ugly – in fact, if it looks too pretty you probably haven’t done it right. (Ours must have been cooked to perfection as it took a couple of hundred shots to get some ‘pretty’ photos.) The trick to this meal is to use real mutton. Not lamb but sheep. Because mutton has lived longer it has had more chance to get cuddly. If the meat is too lean you don’t get the true Fårikål taste as the fat is supposed to soak into the cabbage.
Leftovers are a must. Like any great casserole, Fårikål will mature with age and by the fourth day, after the meat and cabbage has been eaten, the leftovers makes a great soup stock.
The third major ingredient in this dish is peppercorns and the Norwegian Fårikål Society says you don’t have to eat them if you are a ‘pyse’, which roughly translates to ‘sissy’. (Firstly, I think it is funny that a whole Society has been organised just to promote one dish, and secondly, their website is all Fårikål – you can even play a ’round-em-up’ game to see how many sheep you can get into your cooking pot!) But if you ever want to learn about real traditional fårikål, the Norwegian Fårikål Society is the place go.
Even though fårikål is traditionally made (and eaten) in Autumn there have been other versions that have obtained ‘seasonal’ status. The ‘hunting season’ dish includes juniper berries in the stock. The ‘winter season’ dish also uses juniper berries but with a dash of cumin spice for that extra warmth. For the ‘summer season’ dish, smoked lamb is used to create a deep flavour and the cabbage is steamed to retain a little crunch.
Whatever the season, when you eat fårikål it feels just like a warm hug from the inside. But there is no need for you to wait to get to Norway before trying some – why not celebrate National Fårikål day with us. On the last Thursday of September every year Norway celebrates their national dish with, of course, all you can eat fårikål! What better way to experience Norway than eating like a Norwegian? Below is the traditional recipe – it’s quick and easy as the dish cooks itself:
What you will need:
serves two people (double it for four):
500g of mutton bits – on the bone (fat is good!)
1/2 small cabbage choped into 1/8
Teaspoon of peppercorns
Pinch of salt
(Boiled new potatoes for the side and a dollop cowberry/cranberry sauce)
Chuck everything into a casserole pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover 2/3 of the ingredients. Put on the lid and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for two hours or until the meat falls off the bone. Serve in a pasta bowl – meat, cabbage, stock, peppercorns, potatoes and a dollop of cowberry sauce (cranberry would do just fine). If the dish looks ugly then it’s perfect!