I have never in my life seen so many misconceptions about a Norwegian dish as I have with Rømmegrøt. Some place in time, some place in North America, a seed was planted, and it developed to become THE BIG NORTH AMERICAN LIE.
I am busting this lie today!
Ok, ok, ok, now that I got your attention, I have to admin I may be exaggerating just a little. (But I’m not THAT far off either…)
Norway has a long history with porridge as a staple food. It was what kept starvation at bay, when you were so poor you “Could not afford salt in the porridge” as the Norwegian saying goes, and it was what was served for the big occasions in life, like baptisms, funerals, weddings and so on.
So what’s the big lie?
Let’s start by explaining what Rømmegrøt actually means in Norwegian: “Grøt” means “porridge”, and “Rømme” means “sour cream”.
60 % of the recipes written in English that I found (with a quick search on the internet) had no sour cream in it. They may be delicious porridges, but it sure as hell ain’t no Rømmegrøt!
It ain’t Rømmegrøt if there ain’t no sour cream in it!
Sounds logical? Good, now let’s get cooking the REAL deal!
There are of course variations, both in technique and ingredients, but they are minor details, and there is general consensus about what’s in it, how it’s made, and how and when it’s eaten.
This is how grandma did it, and I’ll include a few variations and serving tips in the bottom too 🙂
- 500 ml full fat sour cream (Seterrømme has 35 % fat in it)
- 400 ml whole milk
- 120 g/100 ml wheat flour
- two good pinches sea salt to taste
Note: The Norwegian Rømme you’d use is called Seterrømme. It is very similar to the Canadian sour cream (I used to live in Canada). But as it turns our, the regular US sour cream is something horrible, and about half as sour as the real deal.
So if you are in the US, you’ll likely get the best results with kefir milk instead of the whole milk, and heavy cream instead of the sour cream.
In a 1.5-2 liter pot, bring the whole milk to right below simmer.
Meanwhile, tip the Rømme into a 2-3 liter pot, and quickly stir in 1/4 of the flour, careful to avoid lumps. Bring to a gentle simmer under medium heat, while stirring occasionally. Be careful it doesn’t burn in the bottom of the pot.
Simmer gently for around 15 minutes.
By now the porridge will have split, and the fat in the sour cream will have come out. Skim some of this fat off, and into a small bowl or something, and set aside for serving.
Note that the sourness is in the fat, so if you take off a lot of fat, the porridge will loose sourness. You can use this trick to adjust personal preference.
After skimming the fat, tip in the rest of the flour, and whisk in properly to avoid lumps. Add 1/4 of the warm milk, and stir well. When fully incorporated, tip another quart, stir, and then another again.
Bring the porridge to a very gentle simmer, and simmer for a few minutes to allow the porridge to properly thicken, and to cook out the raw flour taste.
Adjust thickness to your own preference with the remaining warm milk, and season with a pinch or two fine sea salt.
Tip the skimmed fat back into your pot. If you were unable to make the porridge split, it is fine to let a good knob (like 30 grams) of butter melt in the pot, and then ever so gently stir the milk solids back into the porridge, while keeping the clarified fat intact.
First of all, this is traditionally not a dessert, it is a robust lunch, or dinner. We like to serve with just some sugar on top, with cured ham and cured sausages on the side, and with a glass home made raspberry and red currant juice, or black currant juice. Maybe some home made Flatbrød too.
Others do sugar and cinnamon on top, or dried fruits, like raisins, prunes or apricots.
Others again, in Østerdalen, Trysil and other districts close to the Swedish border, serve it first as a sauce for their fish dinner, consisting of potatoes with chive butter, poached or seared fresh water fish, like trout, char, or whitefish, and with flatbread on the side.
What’s left of the porridge is then served after the dinner, with sugar and cinnamon as a dessert.
If you think Rømmegrøt is the best ever, then you MUST check out the far superior Smørgrøt, which is a ultra rich and luxurious butter porridge!