Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finnish Karjalan Paisti (Karelian Stew)

Burr! It was bitter chilly across the state of Minnesota today. The perfect day to make something really hearty.  This is a very simple stew attributed to the region of Karelia, a historic province in the most eastern part of Finland. I’ve adapted and scaled down a recipe from Beatrice Ojakangas’ cookbook Scandinavian Cooking. She lives in Duluth, MN and has written many cookbooks sharing her passion for Finnish cooking with the world. What a state treasure! She is definitely someone I would love to ask a gazillion cooking questions. Anyway, here is the recipe:

Karjalan Paisti
½ lb. lean beef stewing meat
½ lb. lean, boneless lamb
½ lb. lean boneless pork shoulder
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
3 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 bay leaf
4 allspice berries, or ¼ tsp. allspice
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Grease the insides and edges of a 1.5 qt cast iron or glass casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. This will make for a little easier clean-up later.

Trim the excess fat off of your meat and cube into 1 inch pieces. Combine the three meats together. Layer 1/3 of the sliced onions, 1/3 of the combined meat and so on salting each meat layer a bit. Lay a bay leaf and the 4 allspice berries over the top.

Place the lid on top. It is important that the lid fits tightly so that the meat will not dry out. You will also notice there is no broth or water to add. You will not need it—trust me! There are plenty of juices in the onion and meat pieces. If you are concerned about the tight-fitted-ness of your lid, cover your dish with aluminum foil and then place the lid on top.

Bake for 3 hours. Then stir the meat around and bake for another 3 hours. 6 hours is a long time, but this is worth the wait! Check to see that the meat is tender. Mix in your mushrooms and return to the oven, uncovered for 15 minutes.
Serve atop cooked wild rice, or boiled potatoes. We had boiled yukon golds with steamed, fresh kale.

Boiled Potatoes with Kale
4 similarly sized Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
5 stalks of your favorite fresh kale, chopped
In a large saucepan, place peeled potatoes in salted water. Boil until just fork tender (about 20 minutes for larger potatoes and 15 for smaller). Add kale and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Check that the kale stalk is not crunchy. The vegetable should be firm, but not raw. Drain and serve.

I hope this stew warms up your body and soul.
(If it doesn’t quite do the trick, crack open some ruby port. Mmm…)

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