My long-held illusion of Sweden as a land of clean-living people spending their days in bright, airy offices, designing achingly beautiful furniture and raising unnecessarily beautiful daughters has been shattered by the discovery of pyttipanna.
Pyttipanna (or ‘little bits in a pan’) is absolutely filthy food. It is the sort of thing that gets invented when a chap is furiously drunk, or so hung over that a hospital stay would not be out of the question. Which is strange, given that a gin and tonic costs £19 in Stockholm.
I was switched onto pyttipanna by a throwaway comment made by ex-ski racer and YouTube star Jon Olsson (pronounced ‘yoon ol-son’) who mentioned that he had lunched on it while staying on his girlfriend’s father’s boat. When I looked it up, I discovered it was the same thing I had seen him cook in his kitchen in Monaco when I shouted aloud:
“For heavens sake, Jon! That’s not cooking!”
Pyttipanna was traditionally a means of using up leftovers, and that is what we did here after we had some bits left over from a steak dinner. These days, pyttipanna is often made from fresh ingredients, but really, you want to be using up yesterday’s food waste.
As for the provenance of pyttipanna, the idea of frying a load of equal-sized bits of food in a pan will have occurred to every ancient human and college student in the World. It’s just the Swedish who decided to name it.
- One onion, roughly chopped
- 2 frankfurters, chopped
- 300g leftover meat (beef or ham is best), cubed
- 4 portions of leftover potatoes, diced
- 200g smoked bacon lardons
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, picked
- 4 eggs
Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot. Add the onion and cook on medium until softened.
Add all the other ingredients and fry until the bacon is cooked and the potatoes are warmed through.
Meanwhile fry the eggs in hot oil until done as liked (I like to do them hot so they get a crispy base; slower cooking in more oil will give a more even egg).
Serve the pyttipanna on a plate with the eggs placed on top, and sprinkle over more fresh herbs if liked. Serve with a side of pickled beetroot.
Once you have the basic pyttipanna under your belt, make your own version with different meats, spices, chilli and combinations of herbs.