For this blog post I decided to stick to a pretty traditional Swedish recipe, Pyttipanna, which basically translates to “bits in a pan”… think Swedish version of a hash served with fried eggs, but also beets… and sometimes tomato… or a pickled beet cream sauce… or ketchup… or pickles… there are so many different ways to eat it!
As with a few other Swedish dishes, this is a meal that would seem more like breakfast food in the US but is considered dinner here in Sweden (see my post for Swedish Pancakes for another example of this). Originally, pyttipanna was a way to use up bits of leftovers from previous meals but now-a-days I think many people make it from scratch, which is what I did for this post.
There are all sorts of variations of pyttipanna (which makes sense since the only real direction for it is to put bits of leftovers in a pan!), but typically it includes potato, onion, and meat in some form. I decided to use some sweet potatoes in addition to regular potatoes (they were on sale!) and a traditional Swedish sausage called “Falukorv” as the meat. Falukorv is such a Swedish ingredient, there is even a children’s song about it, which my cousins used to always sing growing up (be warned, it gets stuck in your head!).
Falukorv originally comes from the Swedish town of Falun, which was known for producing copper. This little town is in the region of Dalarna (yes, where the dalahorse comes from!), the same region where my extended family owns a few cabins, and is characterized by its speckling of typical red houses with white trim. This red color paint on the houses is actually called “Falu-red” because it was made from the “left-overs” of the copper mining, making it cheap and accessible for those living in the region. It seems to be a theme in this post… using “leftover bits”.
Now, I may be biased, but I really feel like Dalarna is the best area of Sweden… at least the most traditional and quintessential picture of Sweden. This weekend my husband and I journeyed up to the family cabin with my cousin and his girlfriend for the perfect Swedish winter get-away.
I have, of course, been to the cabin many times before in the summer, but this was my first time coming in the winter. Its funny because I’ve always thought going to the cabin in the summer was peaceful, but going in the winter was a whole new level. The snow… the Swedish nature… it was a dream. Not to mention the village we were in has maybe (at most) a dozen year-round residents, so we felt pretty removed from the bustle of city life.
We did get the chance to go talk to what we later dubbed “the village grandparents” because they are an elderly couple that have lived in this village FOR EVER and are so kind and always take care of everyone in the village, from plowing the driveway before we came to keeping an eye on the houses when no one is there. When we knocked on their door, just to say hi, we were welcomed and ushered in to enjoy some fika (of course). As the wife ran to the freezer to take out some homemade bullar and pour some coffee, the husband jumped into his many stories. I’ve always loved history, so I actually enjoyed hearing his tales… like how his father went to Portland to work as a logger in the 1930s, but came home because of the American depression (and he chuckled at the idea that he could have been American)… or the language lesson about the regional dialect (which is apparently almost another language, my Swedish cousin said he couldn’t understand it), which was the language school was taught in when he was growing up… or the history lesson about how the village used to have lots of industry, including his grandfather’s brewery.
We also were shown the many handmade items in his house (at one point he said you HAVE to make your own decoration for your house, it is so much better than store-bought). His wife had made some beautiful paintings which hung all over the walls, while he created complicated woodworking projects like a large clock or this traditional Swedish instrument (can you believe he made that?!)…
As the sagas continued, the fika coffee turned into glasses of vodka and we ended up staying for a few hours. My poor husband doesn’t understand much Swedish (even I was lost sometimes) but he definitely understood when the man asked what we thought of the buffoonery of Trump… We also heard about their trip to Reno in the 90s and got a good look at an address for their friend who lives somewhere in California (nope, I still do not know where they live), which were more positive connections with America.
I could probably write a book about all the stories we heard during those few hours… just like the pyttipanna, these stories were like little pieces of their lives and of the history of this village that came together into such a soulful dish that you just wanted to keep eating it up! Pyttipanna is truly comfort food and perfect for cozy-ing up in a little Swedish cabin, surrounded by snow and good friends, listening to stories of “village grandparents”…
I hope this dish inspires you to connect with those around you and listen to their stories. The more we listen, the more we connect, and maybe we will eventually realize that each person on this planet has a wonderful story that is worthy to share.
- 1 large sweet potato / sötpotatis
- 10 small yellow potatoes / vanliga potatis
- 1 onion / lök
- sausage (such as falukorv)
- 3½ tablespoons butter / 50g smör
- 1 teaspoon paprika / paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt / salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper / svartpeppar
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme / färsk timjan
- 4-5 eggs / ägg
- red beets / rödbetor
- Cut the potatoes and sweet potato into small cubes, approximately ½ inch / 1 cm.
- Add cubed potatoes to a pot covered with water, then bring to a boil.
- Let boil for 1 minute, then drain and rinse with cold water, letting potatoes drain in the sink until as dry as possible.
- Cut the sausage (or falukorv) and onion into similar size pieces as the potatoes.
- Melt about ½ tablespoon / 10 g butter in a pan over high heat.
- Once the pan is hot, add the sausage and fry until golden brown (best to let it sit in the pan, only flipping 2-3 times over about 5 minutes).
- Place the cooked sausage in a bowl and set aside.
- Add the chopped onions to the same pan and fry until golden, but still holding their shape (about 2-3 minutes).
- Remove the onions and set aside.
- Add about 1½ tablespoons / 20 g butter to the same pan and lower the heat to medium-high.
- Add about half the semi-cooked potato mixture as well as ½ teaspoon of salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Let the potatoes fry in the pan for about 10 minutes, flipping occasionally (they should get golden on the outside and soft on the inside).
- Once done, set aside and repeat with the rest of the semi-cooked potatoes (adding another 1½ tablespoons / 20 g butter).
- Add all the cooked ingredients back to the pan and let re-heat for a few minutes, stirring to mix all the pieces.
- While waiting for the pyttipanna to reheat, you can fry eggs to order and slice the beets (or prepare any other toppings).
- Before serving, add a bit of fresh thyme and then enjoy!