Thursday, May 27, 2010

Smørrebrød - The Danish Open-Faced Sandwich

Well, I found my heat-buster dish for supper last night. It seemed to be the talk of the day in Ottawa. What does one prepare when the humidex is pushing 42ºC? And purely by happenstance I found my answer.

Yesterday I watched Episode #42 of (And now I have absolutely no recollection as to how I ended up there in my Internet surfs.) Chef Katrine Klinken, Danish chef, food writer and educator was on the show to talk about Danish food traditions and she also made a few smørrebrød dishes. For those of you not familiar with the term smørrebrød, it is a Danish word that stands for "butter and bread" and it refers to open-faced sandwiches, a national dish in Denmark. Although there are some very classic combinations of foods for smørrebrød, you are really only limited by your imagination. In fact smørrebrød is a very common dish in other Scandinavian countries and their word for it is quite similar.

And if you want to read more.....Karen Elisabeth Lesney, from Northern California, and of Danish heritage (and cousin of famous Danish chef Claus Meyer!), has a blog called Topless Bread that is dedicated to everything 'smørrebrød'. One of her posts eloquently describes the The Origins of Traditional Smørrebrød.

Regular readers by now know just how much I love to 'move stuff along'. I had at my service, a wee bit of baby spinach, one remaining tomato, and a leftover BBQ'd striploin steak done rare to medium rare. Tucked away in the freezer was my favourite Dimpflmeier Flaxseed Rye Bread.

Rye bread is a typical start to smørrebrød. Being calorie friendly, I skipped the butter. I just covered the bread with a heap of spinach and then weighed it down with a few slices of tomato. Since the steak had been covered in Montreal Steak Spice before grilling, I didn't bother with seasoning for the sandwich since the carpaccio style slices of the rare to medium rare striploin would carry the day. I topped the sandwich with a dressing of well-drained, prepared horseradish that had been mixed with a bit of mayonnaise.

It is worth noting that it is quite customary to eat smørrebrød with a fork and knife. A more sophisticated approach than just picking it up in your hands. And you use the fork and knife to both cut and eat, in the European manner. (Culture Smart! DENMARK: A Quick Guide to Customs and Etiquette says that eating the American style, cutting up your food first and then putting down your knife to eat just with your fork, is considered childish by most Europeans, Danes included. Wow. Bold.)

My particular smørrebrød matches really well with a tall, icy Tuborg pilsner.

SMØRREBRØD [Here just one of many combinations]

Rye Bread
Baby Spinach
Tomato Slices
Roast Beef or Steak

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