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A party celebration the Norwegian national dish Fårikål lamb stew
Fårikål – the Norwegian national dish.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Taste fårikål – the Norwegian national dish

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Autumn is the time for lamb stew! Norway’s national dish fårikål is easy to make and tastes heavenly – especially in good company. Many restaurants have the delicacy on the menu.

Perfect food for sharing

“Few things are more pleasant in autumn than to gather a group of friends around the dinner table”, Christine Mollan says.

The cold and crisp air at the end of September confirms what we already know – the summer season is definitely over, and the time has come for hearty comfort food. Christine does like so many other Norwegians do every autumn – invites to a lamb stew party.

Mutton and cabbage stew, or “fårikål” in Norwegian, has repeatedly been named Norway’s national dish. It even has its own festive day on the last Thursday in September. Throughout the autumn months, people all around the country arrange lamb stew parties.

“The dish is perfect if you want to invite a lot of people. It consists of only a few ingredients and almost makes itself. You can prepare everything the day before and just heat it up before the guests arrive”, Christine explains, while she browns the meat to bring out the characteristic taste and smell.

Two sheep in Lofoten, Northern Norway
Sheep in Lofoten.
Photo: Christine Baglo

World-class meat

Norwegian lamb is considered some of the best in the world. The animals roam freely most of their lives, and the meat gets really juicy and tender.

The shoulder, neck, ribs, and chops are all going into the casserole. Through a long cooking process, the meat and cabbage become a tasty and filling feast.

After hours in the pot, the characteristic smell of lamb stew spreads in Christine’s apartment, the stairwell, and the street outside. The smell evokes childhood memories of long Sundays in the kitchen with grandparents, and dinners with the whole family.

People around a dinner table eating fårikål lamb stew in Oslo, Eastern Norway
Lamb stew party in Oslo.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com
Norwegian lamb stew recipe

Serves 8 people

Ingredients:

3 kg lamb meat
3 kg cabbage
8 tsp whole, black pepper
4 tsp salt
6 dl water

1. Rinse and cut the cabbage into wedges.

2. Layer the cabbage and meat (starting with meat, fatty side down) with salt and pepper between the layers. If you want to keep the pepper contained, put it in a suitable container. Some people like to add 2–4 tbsp of flour evenly between the layers.

3. Add water. Cook to boil, then lower the temperature and let the stew simmer until the meat is tender and easy to pull apart, about 2 hours.

4. Serve hot with potatoes.

Source: Matprat.no

Lamb stew party in Oslo.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Make fårikål at home

Norwegian lamb stew basically consists of only four ingredients: mutton, a generous portion of cabbage, a little salt, and whole, black peppercorns.

Look for quality lamb and mutton from local meat producers, which are often richer in taste. One example is Lofotlam, a geographically protected term for meat from sheep that were born and have grazed by the sea in beautiful Lofoten.

Layer cabbage and peppercorns with meat in a large casserole. Add a few decilitres of water and a little salt, and you’re well on your way.

In some places in the country, it is common to add a little flour between each layer to get a thicker sauce. Others, like Christine, throw both carrots and onions in the pot.

In more modern versions, some people experiment with replacing some of the water with dark lager, while others add garlic and bay leaves.

A pot full og fårikål lamb stew ingredients in Oslo, Eastern Norway
Fårikål lamb stew.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

The fact that the harvesting of cabbage coincides with the slaughter season for lamb has probably contributed to the lamb stew’s popularity.

The original Norwegian lamb stew recipe is most likely inspired by a similar Danish dish with duck, which was introduced in Norway as early as the 19th century.

Today, Norwegian lamb stew is usually only served with boiled potatoes and wafer-thin, crispbread called “flatbrød”. Some also dare to put cranberry jam on the table.

A plate of fårikål lamb stew at a dinner table in Oslo, Eastern Norway
Fårikål lamb stew.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

What to drink?

A Norwegian lamb stew party often has an informal atmosphere where the pot is placed directly on the table. Beer or wine and aquavit are usually regular accompaniments.

A distinctive beer, ale, or dark lager, especially if it has some sweetness, freshness or acidity, fits well with the stew. The same goes for a white or sparkling wine with hints of ripe fruit, freshness, and aroma. A sour apple juice is a good non-alcoholic alternative.

Norwegian lamb stew on the menu

If you don’t want to make lamb stew yourself, plenty of restaurants have the national dish on the menu during the autumn months.

Go on a culinary journey through Norway with Vy express! Stay on some of Norway's most beautiful farms or take in one of the country’s most distinctive accommodations.

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