Lobscouse (lapskaus) is a stew many people think of as a Norwegian dish. But what is the taste of home in Oslo, Norway, is also the taste of home in Liverpool, England.
The Norwegian version consists of meat (often salted lamb or pork, or beef), lots of potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables, leeks, everything cubed and cooked until tender. So far, it is not a far cry from its English relative, but in Norway it is served with flatbrød, a traditional unleavened bread, thin like Indian papadums.
In Denmark the name reveals its history. Skipperlabskovs, sea captain’s lobscouse, started as a dish among sailors in Northern Europe. It was spread to the ports of Hamburg and Liverpool, leaving a strong imprint in Liverpool where it became the city’s signature dish. Liverpudlians are nicknamed scouse, a contraction of lobscouse and the city even celebrates “Global scouse day” on February 28, with the motto “be scouse, eat scouse”.
Lobscouse came to Norway in the beginning of the 19th century and was cherished from the start. With its sparse ingredients, it quickly adapted to the Norwegian diet. Potatoes, root vegetables and salt meat. Lobscouse is always cooked in the largest cooking pots of the kitchen and is sometimes served during weddings. I like to make it with pinnekjøtt, dried and smoked ribs of sheep, but an alternative is to use smoked gammon.
Norwegian lobscouse stew (makes about 6)
1 kg ribs of sheep (or smoked gammon)
3 litre water
2–3 celery sticks
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1,3 litre stock
2 root parsley (or other root vegetables)
12 big potatoes
meat (ribs of sheep or gammon)
1. Soak the ribs of sheep for two days. Rinse the water half way through.
2. Peel and cut the vegetables for the stock in chunks and boil with the spices for 2 hours. Strain through a sieve and push with the back of a spoon.
3. Add the ribs of sheep (or the gammon) and boil until tender, about 3 hours.
4. Cut the meat in cubes and leave aside.
5. Bring the stock back to boil. First add the cubed carrot, then the rest of the vegetables, all cubed. Boil until the vegetables are tender and the potatoes start to get mushy.
6. Season with pepper and scatter chopped chives. Serve with flatbrød.