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Lapskaus, Norwegian beef and vegetable stew

If you ask anyone in Norway which food they consider to ve the most comforting warm dish, I can guarantee that a good proportion will say lapskaus.

Lapskaus is a rich, filling stew of beef, potatoes and vegetables cooked slowly together until they are melting and tender. Lapskaus recipes vary greatly from region to region and even from family to family, but I am going to share a recipe from my region of Vestfold.

Lapskaus was said to have originated from sailors bringing the dish home to Norway after their travels and as Norway has always been such a seafaring country with a long coastline, this is hardly surprising. The word lapskaus derives from the English "lobscouse" which is a really similar dish most often seen in Liverpool and Hamburg in northern Germany. And of course Liverpool is on the Norwegian side of the English coastline so it only makes sense. Hamburg on the other hand was a huge centre for maritime trade. In English slang "lob" means a lump of something or to throw something, and "course" means a dish, I guess that makes it sound slightly less appealing, the concept of throwing a few lumps of something into a dish, but when sailors were short of time and wanted a nutritious meal made with whatever was available then it was probably exceedingly welcome!

Lapskaus now is far from that idea of whatever you have available thrown into a pot and it's become one of Norway's most recognisable and favourite dishes. These days it's far from the cheap alternative!!

You will see lapskaus in two different types in Norway - lys lapskaus (light lapskaus) and brun lapskaus (brown lapskaus). Brun lapskaus is made with beef and you end with a slightly darker stew whereas, lys lapskaus is usually made with a cheaper cut of meat like pork or even sausages and so you get a mucher lighter coloured dish.

I am going to give you the recipe for brun lapskaus, but of course, you can make it with pork instead if you like. Don't get too bogged down in the quantities of the ingredients, especially the vegetables. It's OK to wing it on this one!

If you have any lapskaus leftover it's one of those dishes that freezes beautifully. Simply let it cool down, divide into portions and freeze. To reheat, defrost a portion or two and then gently heat in a pan until it's simmering. Simmer for a couple of minutes to make sure the meat is heated through.

Brun lapskaus
Brun lapskaus is a Norwegian favourite

Lapskaus. Serves 6 people


1kg / 2lb 3 oz stewing beef

2 small onions

25g / 1 oz butter

2 teaspoons flour

1 litre / 2 pints beef stock or bouillon

200g / 7 oz rutabaga or swede

1 parsnip

150g / 5 oz celeriac/celery root

1 medium sized leek

Salt and pepper

Flatbread and butter to serve


Cut the beef into small cubes and remove any gristle or excess fat. Some fat and gristle is fine because it will gently melt away whilst cooking and add to the flavour of the sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan and add fry beef in two stages browning it well between each stage. As one batch is done remove it to a plate and fry the second batch. remove that to a plate when it's brown and add the onion to the pan. Fry gently until it's soft and translucent. Add the flour and stir well together for a minute over the heat. Gradually add the stock then return the beef to the pan. Cook over a gentle heat for about 1.5 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender.

Peel the vegetables and cut them into small dice that are all about the same size. Slice the leek into rounds and wash well.

Add the carrots, rutabaga and parsnip to the beef. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes before adding the potatoes and simmering for another 30 minutes. By this time the vegetables and beef will be very tender and starting to break down. Add the leek rounds and cook again for 10 minutes. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the lapskaus with some flatbread and butter.

Vær så god!

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