This is part 2 of my @noodleholicsparty challenge – where a group of food bloggers shared their favorite noodle dishes from around the globe. If you missed part 1 from last week, I created an elegant version of Juniper Berry & Barley Noodles with Creamy Chanterelles.
But just to recap, although noodles are not part of the traditional Norwegian food culture, I found this challenge to be an interesting one to take on. I wanted to showcase just what a Norwegian noodle dish might look like. Because, after all, noodles are made with simple base ingredients. The same ingredients that are the building blocks for Norwegian breads, like lefse and flatbrød. So even though there has never been a distinctive Norwegian noodle, there is no reason there shouldn’t have been or should be one now.
I am sharing two noodle dishes because I wanted to test out two variations and was satisfied with both. Enough so, that I decided to make two blog posts. Each recipe shows a side of Norwegian cooking that I hope to highlight. An elegant side and a rustic, hearty side.
This second dish, is the rustic and hearty version. Imagine, after a long day, wandering into a dimly lit timber tavern and sitting down to a large glass of home-brewed beer. In the corner, a fire burns brightly underneath a large, heavy-bottomed pot filled with pieces of tender meat and vegetables slowly cooking away. The smell of fresh bread filling the air. An inviting atmosphere where comfort and warmth cradle each and every person who walks through the door. Take that feeling and those ingredients and turn them into a noodle dish, and you might just get Hand-Cut Rye Noodles with Beer-Braised Beef.Rye came to Norway around 500AD, but was not widely used before the Viking Era. Rye eventually became the most common grain crop during the Middle Ages. Today, around 82% of rye grown in Norway is used for food.
I use a simple rye dough to give a hearty texture and taste – something which can hold up against the richness of the beer-braised beef.
The beef, which is locally-sourced from our neighbor, is slowly braised in ale for 4 hours with chopped parsnip, onion and carrot. The hours intensify the flavour, giving an incredible delicious and rich stew of meat. After a quick rapid boil, most of the liquid evaporates giving way to a succulent sauce which is then mixed together with the rye noodles, coating each one. This is one dish which has comfort written all over it.
Hand-Cut Rye Noodles with Beer-Braised Beef
- 1 parsnip
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- ¼ cup oil + 1 Tb
- 1 Tb butter
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) beef (slow cooking beef, i.e. chuck roast or brisket)
- 18 oz good ale (a typical bottle of beer is 12oz, so you will use around 1 1/2 bottles)
- Salt & pepper
- 2 cup (240g) fine rye flour
- 2 cup (280g) flour (if using all purpose, then you will need to sift it first)
- 4 eggs
- 10 Tb water
Chop the parsnip, onion and carrot finely. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped vegetables. Sauté the vegetables until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside. Turn up the heat and add 1 Tb of butter and 1 Tb of oil to the pot. Pat the meat dry and cut the meat into four equal pieces. Place the beef in the pot and sear all sides until browned. Add the vegetables back into the pot and gently pour the ale over everything. Add 1 Tb of salt and give it a nice stir. Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and let it simmer for around 3-4 hours (checking once every hour or so to turn the meat).
In the meantime, prepare your noodles.
In a bowl, blend the fine rye flour and white flour (tipo 00 is a good choice) together. Pour out onto a clean surface. Make a well in the middle of the flour with your fingers and crack both eggs inside. Add 5 Tb of the water. With a fork, begin to whisk the eggs gradually adding a little flour from the sides of the well from time to time until it makes sense to stop using the fork and dive in with your hands. Add the remaining water as you go along if the dough is too dry (you might find you need more or less liquid depending on the size of your eggs, the humidity, etc.). Begin kneading the dough by hand until it is firm, but smooth and elastic. This is a tough job, but quite fun. It should take you about 10 minutes. Let the dough rest, covered with a cloth, for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Flatten the first dough, just thin enough to fit through the first setting on a pasta machine. You will want to make your way through each setting a couple of times (folding the dough in half per setting) until you make your way to the third to last setting (#3 if using a 1-7 setting machine). You’ll notice the dough getting quite a bit longer as you proceed. And you will probably only need to put the pasta through one or two times on the final settings. Keep some flour on hand to lightly sprinkle across the dough if it begins to get a little sticky as you pass it through the machine. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Cut each rolled-out dough in half. Sprinkle a little flour over each one. Take one section of dough at a time and begin to roll it from the shorter side over. You should end up with a 5/6 inch wide scroll. Take a sharp knife and cut 2/3 inch strands. Unravel each strand and repeat with the remaining dough. Cover.
After 3-4 hours, check the tenderness of the meat. It’s ready when it easily pulls away with a fork. Take out all the meat pieces and shred them coarsely with two forks. Return the meat back to the pot and bring everything to a boil, uncovered, to allow most (but not all) of the liquid to evaporate. You will want enough liquid to make a nice sauce – not too thick, but not too thin.
Place a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Add a tablespoon of salt and toss in your homemade pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute. Drain the pasta. Toss it in the pot with the beer-braised beef and mix well. Serve immediately.
This dish goes well with grated hard goat’s cheese.