I saw some fresh veal kidneys at the supermarket the other day and therein had the opportunity to try out yet another classic Swedish dish: Hökarpanna. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the Swedish name translates to or even really means...
First, though, in searching for some information on the dish, I ran across some interesting material. It's a cache of archival material from a Swedish cooking program from 1934 (used, by the looks of things, as filler during, before or after films). One of the segments
is actually the preparation of this dish. Now, it's only available in Swedish but it's perhaps interesting even without understanding the speaker. It was fascinating for me to see the veal kidneys still wrapped in their fat (modern meat inspection techniques destroy this layer of fat)*. All in all, though, this was a pretty spartan preparation.
On to mine!
One veal kidney, one bottle of decent lager, about a cup of beef stock, 2 pounds of potatoes, about a pound of pork loin (or? can someone identify this for me?), a couple of bay leaves, a tsp of thyme, a leek (white part only), a carrot and a couple of yellow onions.
The original form of this dish (already out of style by the 1934 filming above, though) uses pork and pigs kidneys. Pig kidneys are pretty low on the offal totem pole, though so I went with veal.
Start by slicing the kidney in 1/2 inch slices and blanching them in boiling, salted water for about 1 minute.
Slice the pork, the onion and the potato in 1/2 inch-ish slices.
Next, brown/sear all of the sliced ingredients one batch at a time in butter:
Finally, assemble the stew in a casserole. Build it up in layers and start and finish with a layer of potatoes.
Don't forget the seasoning! Add salt and pepper along with the bay leaves and thyme.
Add the pan juices...
... and the lager:
Cover the casserole, bring to a boil and lower the heat. Let the stew simmer for about an hour.
After an hour, thinly slice the carrots and the leek and add them to the pot.
Let the vegetables soften (it only takes a few minutes) and serve!
How does it taste? Well, is sure doesn't taste QUITE GOOD
**... No, instead this dish is hearty, balanced and delicious. The slight offal flavor of the kidneys is easily offset by the stock, lager and seasoning. The late-added leeks provide an onion kick that isn't too far from french onion soup. And the pork is tender but, perhaps due to thinly slicing it, not dry. I toyed with the idea of removing and boiling down the liquids and even thickening them (with flour/butter). However, after a few servings, a few potatoes had mashed enough to thicken the sauce without any additional help.
All in all, a very tasty one-dish dinner. Pretty easy, too, considering that it just needs to simmer (after the inital browning).
* Check out the link to the Chateaubriand recipe for an incredible documentation of meat shopping ca 1934 in Stockholm. Considering that it's still the same cut of beef, the handling of and reverence taken in accessing the beef tenderloin ca 1934 is (in my eyes) a startling contrast to today's supermarkets' row-after-row of cryvac-packaged tenderloins...
** I'm undoubtedly guilty of using this expression in the past and would hereby like to apologize to the forum's more sensitive readers!