A traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner consists of surkål (sourkraut), kålrabistappe (rutabaga purée), and Ribbe (a side of pork, from the rib meat to the skin). The meat is slow roasted and the rind gradually cooks and crisps into a nice crunchy crackling. Living in Sweden, I couldn’t find this cut anywhere, so I went for a leg, hoping to get the same effect with the crackling. Since I was already going a different route, I decided to mix up the sides as well, and made Hasselback Rutabagas and rødkål (spiced red cabbage) instead of surkål.
Pork Leg with Crackling
-1.5-2kg (3.3-4.4lbs) pork leg, including bone and skin
-1 tablespoon whole cloves
-salt and pepper
Score the rind, through the skin and into the fat, with a sharp knife into 1.5 cm (.6 inch) diamonds. Rub completely with salt and pepper, working it into the grooves. Put one clove into each intersection of grooves. Bake right away, or leave overnight in the fridge, tightly covered.
Preheat the oven to 230C/450F. In your baking dish, place a rack or several balls of foil to hold the leg above the bottom of the pan. Pour about 1.5 dl (2/3 cup) water in the dish, the tent with foil. Bake for 40 minutes.
Tip: If you have a different cut of meat, you can calculate your cooking time at Meat Matters.
Remove from oven and take off the foil tent. Turn the oven down to 205C/400F, then put the leg back in the oven, and bake for an additional 2 hours. If it doesn’t have much fat dripping off, you may need to add a bit of water to the pan every once in a while to prevent burning in the pan.
If parts of the rind still aren’t golden at the end, turn on the grill or broiler function, or if your oven doesn’t have this, turn the heat up to 245C/475F, and watch it until the crackling is a lovely golden. It can burn quickly!
If the meat is done before the side dishes, tent loosely with foil until ready to serve.
2 rutabagas, about 325g (11.5 oz) each
salt and pepper
Thoroughly wash and dry the rutabagas. Slice off the root ends to create a flat place for each to rest. Carefully slice, from top down, every 1 cm (1/3 inch), making sure not to go all the way to the bottom. Leave about 1 cm (1/3 inch) uncut from the bottom.
Cut the carrot on the diagonal into thin slices, and core and cut the pear into thin wedges. Alternating carrot and pear slices, put one in between each rutabaga slice. Put them into the smallest baking dish that will fit them, and add about 2 tablespoons butter. Top each rutabaga with dabs of butter, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Put in the oven with the leg, and roast for 40-50 minutes, basting with melted butter every 10 minutes. Remove and serve when golden brown and crispy. If they get done early, tent with foil to keep warm. If you remove the leg before they’re done, go ahead and turn the oven up to 225C/440F.
15g (1/2 oz) butter
1 medium shallot, minced
400g (almost a pound) purple cabbage, cored and sliced
1 dl (scant 1/2 cup) red wine
2 heaping tablespoons redcurrant jelly
15 ml (1 tablespoon) vinegar from pickled beetroots
15g (1 tablespoon) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
10 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
Melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the shallot. Stir until it’s slightly softened, then add the cabbage. Stir until shiny; don’t let it brown.
Add the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper; turn to low heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When you stir, if all the liquid is gone, add a touch of water or wine to prevent sticking.
Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick, and season to taste with additional sugar, salt, and pepper.