Husmanskost is “everyday food.” It is the home cooked, traditional food that mom makes every evening and the kids eagerly await.
Though we most famously associate meatballs with lingonberry and potatoes with home style Swedish cuisine, there are many other dishes Swedes traditionally eat. And perhaps not eat anymore, eh-hum surströmming.
Most popular husmanskost:
- Köttbullar med lingon – Meatballs with lingonberry jam. Forget the ready made meatballs from Scan at the grocery store, it’s articificially preserved and salty. Make your own at home, your tummy will thank you.
- Pytt i panna – Leftover fridge day. You know when you have a potato, ham, eggs, onions hanging in the fridge and there’s not enough to make a “real” dish? Well, make pytt i panne; the perfect one pot dish of sautéed cubes of all the ingredients served with a sunny side up egg on top.
- Sjömansbiff – Seaman’s beef. A beef casserole cooked with beer. Now that is manly.
- Kåldomar – Stuffed cabbage rolls with meat. Originally from Turkey but brought to Sweden in the 18th century and hence the similarity to dolmars found in the Middle East.
- Blodpudding – Blood-pudding. High in iron and perfect to sauté and serve with a cream sauce.
- Janssons Frestelse – Janssons Temptation. Popular at Christmastime, this dish is made from potatoes, cream, onions, and herring. Delicious if you love salted fish.
- Ärtsoppa med pannkakor – Pea soup with pancakes. Traditionally eaten on Thursdays to prepare for Friday fasting, today pea soup is ubiquitous with school food. Delicious to make at home but possibly Exorcist-terrifying to eat in a canteen.
- Nyponsoppa – Rosehip soup. Sweet and tasty and little gelatinous because of the pectin.
The problem with husmanskost is the dishes are rather bland and rely on cream and fat goodness to perk them up. While you will find exotic spices like cinnamon, cardamon, and saffron in Christmas breads and cookies, you won’t find those spices in these Swedish dishes.
Still, you don’t want to not try them. Excellent köttbullar is to die for as is pytt i panne because of its simplicity. Even a simple grilled lax with citron is satisfying and tasty.
If you are in Stockholm there are few good restaurants to get husmanskost dishes and even more modern takes on them. I’ve had meatballs at all three so base my review on that and what friends had at the table.
Köttbullar at Pelikan
Pelikan – Södermalm – Typical Swedish bar house (krog) from the early 1900s. The huge wooden tables and high ceilings with mirrors bring you back to a different era. The food is spectacular and by far serves the best meatballs in all of Stockholm. The fish is fresh and not overcooked and modern takes on classic dishes are common. The waitstaff can be impatient and snobby but still attentive, because they know they’re good.
Kvarnen – Södermalm – Swedish barhouse from 1909. The underground floor is a bar/club and on Fridays and Saturdays has the young, standoffish, hipster crowd roaming the place. Not advisable to eat on those night unless you want to see drunk people slosh at the next table over. Service is poor and can take time to find a waiter who wants to talk to you. Can’t blame them with the mix of older crowd having dinner meshing with the young and obnoxious.
Cafe Tranan – Odenplan – Small, upscale style restaurant on the ground floor. My number two choice for meatballs, Tränan is a great place to have an intimate birthday or dinner with friends. A bar exists underground but is worth it if you get there early in the evening, otherwise you’ll be packed like sardines.
For cookbooks and getting started with meat and potatoes, check out these cookbooks:
- Leif Mannerströms bästa – Från husmanskost till sushi – 108:- at bokus.se.
- LCHF-husmanskost : den goda vägen till hälsa och viktminskning – Low Carb High Fat Husmanskost – 159:- at bokus.se.
- Scandinavian Cookbook – in English – 120:- at bokus.se.
Once you have the salty, savory dishes down, it’s time to start eating the sweet stuff! And Swedes love godis.