Sunday, February 3, 2008

Homage to the swede

The American name, rutabaga, has Swedish origin too -
it comes from "rotabagge" which is the dialectal name
for swede in the Swedish province Västergötland.

I was very surprised but happy when my suggestion, the swede or rutabaga, actually became one of the ingredients in this round of Paper Chef. Traditionally in Sweden, this root has mostly been used in the dish "rotmos och fläsklägg" which is mashed swede and leg of pork. The pork is simmered with vegetables until very tender, and the swede is boiled in the broth together with a couple of potatoes and carrots. The roots are mashed with butter and some of the broth into a soft, hearty mash. The dish is served with Swedish, sweet mustard. I personally like to have some knäckebröd, crisp bread, with the dish, which is excellent buttered and covered with a layer of swede mash.

"Rotmos och fläsklägg" - picture from
where you also find a recipe to this dish in Swedish.

But the swede is versatile and can be used to so much more than this. I like to include it in casseroles because it adds depth to the flavour. It goes very well with garlic and parsley. Just like celery root, it is very nice to braise until al dente and then add cheese on top and put it under the grill.

The allotted ingredients are swede, potatoes, bacon and plum tomatoes - which I think go very well together and could be varied indefinitely into different dishes. Moreover, apart from the tomatoes, these are ingredients that I can find ecologically, locally and ethically grown/produced. In Sweden, we really should avoid tomatoes, paprika, cucumber etc. in the wintertime because they are grown in energy-consuming greenhouses and/or are transported long distances on carbon dioxide-spewing trucks BUT swedes, potatoes and other root vegetables can be grown locally and stored for a long time and be used most of the winter. During the 80's and 90's we got accustomed to be able to buy all kinds of vegetables all year around, and the root vegetables was regarded as the anti-thesis to the elegant, sophisticated, mediterranean style that we embraced at that time. Now, with the climate changing in mind and the growing awareness of the impact that our consumption has on the ecological system, the root vegetables have really come back in style.

And then we have the pigs. Adorable, intelligent, curious and playful creatures that really know how to enjoy life. Is it right to confine them in tiny, dark and noisy spaces and never let them see sunlight or root in the ground? At least I don't think so, so therefore I only buy pork from pigs that are kept outdoors as well as indoors, and have the possibility to express all their instincts and complex signals. Of course this meat is a little more expensive, but apart from the ethical view, the meat is so much more tasty - these animals have actually been using their muscles!

But enough lecturing! Today, I chose to make it very simple and combine the ingredients into a quite plain but tasty lunch dish.

1/4 swede/rutabaga, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
50-100 g bacon (preferrably from a pig that was happy when living)
5-6 baby plum tomatoes
1 garlic clove
Parsley (fresh or frozen)
Salt, pepper to taste (and/or other herbs/spices)
Olive oil

Put the diced swede and potatoes in a small oven pan, sprinkle a little oil and salt and pepper (and/or other herbs or spices) and bake in 200 °C/440 °F for 15 minutes or until the veggies are half done. In the meantime, chop the garlic cloves finely togheter with the parsley. When the roots are half done, sprinkle the garlic/parsley mix on top and bake another 10-15 minutes. Add the plum tomatoes during the last couple of minutes. During baking, divide the bacon in smallish peaces and fry in its own fat until crisp. Spread the bacon on top of the baked vegetables and enjoy your lunch!


Ann said...


Ann at Redacted Recipes

Alanna said...

Here's hoping you do the 'English' Paper Chef often!

görel said...

Thank you Ann and Alanna! Yes, I believe this could prove addictive!

Bron said...

Sounds wonderful and very homely
... and I'm so with you about the "happy pig" bacon!
Good on you! Cheers!

görel said...

Thank you Bron! Yes, may all pigs be happy before they end up on our plates! :-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow, I love this simple preparation! Really excellent Görel. And thanks for the neat info on rutabaga!

Mike said...

very nice!

görel said...

Many thanks, mkihc and mike!