Grøt, Ultimate Nordic Comfort Food
Grøt is something you see a lot of in Scandinavia. It's the Nordic version of porridge. But not porridge as we know it in England or Australia or the USA. In Scandinavia they know how to take their porridge to a whole new level with a variety of raw ingredients that give each one it's own signature.
In fact grøt is revered so much here that there is even a Grøtdagen in Norway on 23 October every year. A chance to celebrate a humble and ancient dish that has sustained a nation through thick and thin.
Grøt has a long tradition in Norway and is Norway's oldest hot dish with a wonderful variety of different types from every day grøt to celebration grøt.
Through the ages the most common grøt has always been barley or oat, but as time has gone on there have been countless adaptions depending on what was available at the time. Thrifty and resourceful household cooks have used what they had in their pantries or what they could get hold of in their region to create delicious and warming variations of this most simple of comfort foods.
Barley and oats are two ingredients that thrive in the cold and harsh conditions of the Nordic climate and has been cultivated throughout Norway for hundreds of years. Often water was used for the cooking liquid but at times of plenty or if you could afford it, milk, cream or sour cream was added to elevate a basic hot dish into something truly luxurious.
These wonderful traditions really do endure and you will regularly find grøt on the menus of restaurants, particularly the more traditional "kro" or taverns in rural areas. Most little markets, events and public celebrations serve grøt of some description, At Christmas you can expect to find it being served outside shops and at Christmas markets and in the summer months rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge) at the "seter" (summer grazing farm) with cured meats and a glass of red cordial. These are by no means the only types of grøt and I'm delighted to say that many are celebrated individually on partiuclar days of the primstav (ancient Nordic calendar stick).
Let's take a little journey through a few of the types of grøt you might encounter in Norway.....
Festgrøt (Celebration Grøt)
Grøt is by no means reserved for everyday meals. Rømmegrøt in particular is a dish you find at weddings and celebrations and even at the dugnad. It's a rich and filling sour cream porridge made with flour, milk and high fat sour cream. Served with sugar and cinnamon and little of the cooking fat, it'll have you coming back for more!
Risengrøt is probably one of the more familiar porridges to us hailing from parts that are not Nordic. Rice has been around in Norway since the middle ages, but was something of an exclusive ingredient and so was reserved for special occasions. Risengrøt really takes centre stage on Christmas Eve when it is mixed with whipped cream and served for dessert after the main Christmas Eve meal. Traditionally a whole almond is hidden in it and the person who finds it wins a marzipan pig!
What I love most about risengrøt is it's versatility. It can be enjoyed, hot, cold and is a great food for hiking trips.
For my take on risengrøt click here.
This light, creamy porridge thickened with flour is a tasty substitute for rømmegrøt when you are in a bit of a hurry and want to avoid the high fat. It's a porridge that is popular in the late spring and early summer months or ideal as "kveldemat" (supper). It is reminiscent of a thick béchamel sauce
Living in the south eastern part of Norway, I am very familiar with the numerous potato dishes that abound in these parts. Østfold in particular is well known for it's potato harvests and Norwegians on the whole are enthusiastic potato eaters. There are very few Norwegian dishes that don't have some sort of potato accompaniment. So it goes without saying that there should be a recipe for potato porridge or potetgrøt. It's a little unexpected too, as it's not really a savoury dish but served with the customary sugar and cinnamon on top. Delicious, cheap and warming, you can imagine it being a staple of many households for hundreds of years.
I hope that's given you a little insight into the Nordic love affair with grøt and maybe even persuaded you to try a few yourself.
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