In Norway, traditional food is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. And as a rule, it is hearty and tasty! But Smalahove can rightly be included in the list of the strangest recipes in the world.
What is Smalahove?
Smalahove is a type of cuisine that originates from Norway. Smalahove is a traditional dish from Norway that is made using the head of a sheep. The head is boiled until the meat is tender and then served with potatoes, vegetables, or other side dishes. This dish is often considered a delicacy and is most commonly enjoyed during the winter months.
And despite this, it continues to be cooked and served on the table, as this is a long Norwegian tradition based on the use of the whole animal as food, and this is how this special dish from the head of a sheep arose.
An interesting fact is that earlier it was considered a dish of the poor, but now it is a delicacy. And the food – tourists go to Norway specifically to try it. And also add this unusual trophy for connoisseurs of extreme cuisine to your list.
Cooking of the Smalahove
Smalahove can be tasted in a restaurant in the city of Voss, and you can also cook it yourself at home. The serving per person consists of half a lamb’s head. And for many Norwegians, this is a traditional delicacy. In general, all Norwegian Christmas dishes can be divided into regions. And Smalahove dish, which came from the western part of the country.
At the first stage of preparation of Smalahove, the skin, and wool on the sheep’s head are burned, the head is divided into two parts, the brain is removed, and the head is salted, sometimes smoked, and then dried.
Then they are packed in vacuum packaging and a semi-finished product convenient for cooking at home with a good shelf life is obtained. Which we ordered in the Menu store since Slalahov is not popular in the southeastern region of Norway and is sold only on pre-orders.
To cook at home, you will need a large pot. Cooking can take place both in steam and in stewing mode over low heat. We chose the steam method. And in this case, you need to put birch sticks or mandala potatoes on the bottom of the pan and fill it with water, and put two halves of the head on top.
Cooking time 3 hours on low heat.
Serving of Smalahove and Right Cutting
After 3 hours, we take Smalahove out of the pan and put it on a plate for cutting. You will need a sharp knife, a plate for meat, and a plate for bones.
Proper cutting occurs in stages:
First, on the head, we make a vertical incision from the ear down and then a horizontal incision along the cheek above the lip.
This incision shape helps to effectively remove the skin to reach the jaw.
The next stage looks spectacular! With a confident movement, we pull out the jaw and remove the meat from it.
Find a cheek in the meat from the jaw and cut off the inner chewing part, it is not edible and is clearly visible in its structure.
Carefully remove the skin – the film from the tongue (if it holds well, you can help yourself with your hand), and be sure to cut off the tip of the tongue
Now we cut off the ear, it is fatty and not for everyone, but if you decide to eat it, then it is important to butcher and eats it first before it cools down.
Next, carefully select the meat around the ear and under the ear.
The last step is to cut off the meat from the front of the head, removing the skin and nose. Some eat the eye, but we chose not to.
After cutting, the bones look unsightly, so it is important to remove them from the table as soon as possible. To spoil your appetite.
And then only chopped meat will remain on the plate, which looks nice and has the smell of smoked lamb. Now you can start eating. Smalahove is served with turnip puree and almond potatoes. And from the drinks on the table should be Akavit – Norwegian strong liquor and Christmas spiced beer!
Our impressions of the Smalahove taste
The taste of meat is salty and with a strong smell of smoking. But despite the fact that the head at the stage of the semi-finished product was dried after steaming, the meat is soft and juicy. If the head had been given to us already butchered, then we would not have known that the meat was from the head.
This means that we can conclude that the attractiveness of the dish in the eyes of tourists is based only on its frightening and extreme appearance.
And we were disappointed in Smalahove by the small amount of edible meat relative to the number of bones and skin that is thrown away. But the experience was definitely interesting!
In the video on our channel, we cook, butcher, and taste Smalahove, so you can see all the steps and cook it with us.