I’ve settled into my flat in Gothenburg and took untold amounts of pleasure in unpacking all my kit that has arrived from the UK. Having lived without books and my kitchen kit for a month or so, the process of arranging my small library and kitchen was particularly satisfying. I now feel settled and ready to embrace everything that Sweden has to offer.
I’ve bought two Swedish cooking books to act as my culinary bibles – The Scandinavian Kitchen which is quite everyday and Aquavit for when you want to experiment.
I set off to the supermarket with the intention of cooking salted duck which I found in the Aquavit book. But when I could only find frozen “Anka” for 11 pounds a breast I decided a change of tack was in order. ICA Focus has a fantastic range of pork and beef. But if you want chicken, lamb or duck you’re in for disappointment. And even more so if you can’t understand the language. It makes it so hard to know what cut of meat you are looking at. Especially when they are butchered slightly differently to in the UK. I’m now determined to learn Swedish from a cooking perspective!
After 30 minutes of walking backwards and forward, in a mild state of panic, I selected a rather expensive, but very fine looking chicken breast from the organic section and decided to cure it in brine instead of the duck and to accompany it with a blazing red risotto stained with beetroot and sundried tomato. It was one of those spur of the moment about turns in a supermarket that transforms your mood from being a bit bleak to bouncing down the aisle to the checkout – eager to turn the hob on and get cooking. Ingredients:
For the chicken
1 chicken breast 4 tablespoons of salt 2 tablespoons of sugar Loads of thyme
For the scarlet risotto
1 beetroot Risotto rice 3 sun dried tomatoes Salt and pepper
Make a brine by boiling a pan of water and dissolving the salt and sugar. Once boiled allow to cool and add the thyme. Then submerge your chicken breast and weigh it down with a bowl. Allow to cure for up to 12 hours. The brining process makes the meat very tender and juicy. And means that the skin will crisp up beautifully. It's a technique that pops up repeatedly in Scandinavian cooking.
In the meantime, dice a beetroot and add to a pan full of water. Boil for 20 minutes until tender. Drain the red water into another pan and reserve. This will be your stock.
In a heavy bottomed pan sweat an onion in butter and olive oil. Then add the chopped beetroot and your rice. Allow to crackle in the fact and watch it turn red. Then add the stock bit by bit as normal and enjoy the experience of making one of the scariest looking risottos you can imagine. Cut your sun dried tomatoes into slithers and lob them in to. They will add a nice tartish note to the sweet and earthy rice. Once the stock has absorbed and the rice is cooked beat in a wad of butter and watch it turn glossy like a tin of Dulux paint.
Dry your chicken breast and coat in oil and a squeeze of lemon. Roast for 25 minutes.
Assemble and eat.
The earthy risotto is the perfect foil for the salted chicken which is moist and graced with crispy skin. As a combination it works like a dream and is a great conversation starter because it looks so strange!
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: