Sunday, October 5, 2014

Spagetti & Minced Meat Sauce, Swedish style

The Swedish word husmanskost means something like simple home-cooking. Only last week I saw an article in the paper  about how popular husmanskost is with the Swedes, but also how the definition of what is typically, traditional Swedish fare has changed over the years. Now, apparently, dishes like pizza, pasta, and tacos are considered husmanskost by the coming generation. Well, I grew up with pasta, certainly, the first dish I ever learned to cook properly was spagetti and mincemeat sauce, but I do remember a time when a pizza restaurant was rather exotic, actually. Tacos were introduced in the late 80´s. When we were in San Francisco in 1994, we had fajitas, which was unheard of here then, but it was introduced not long after.

For me husmanskost is, for example, kalops, a meatstew with alspice and bay leaf, served with beetroots and cucumber. It is also kåldolmar, stuffed cabbage rolls - which is another import, it came to Sweden with the armies of Karl XII, returning from Turkey in the early 18th Century. It is probable that the most classic of Swedish dishes, the meatball, also originates from the Turkish köfte. If you go far enough back in time, there is no such thing as typically Swedish anything. There isn´t even a Sweden - as we know it - in the 15th Century!

Anyway, spagetti and mincemeat sauce: chopped onion fried with mince meat (any kind, local produce is good) in olive oil, add a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of sliced mushrooms; spice it with salt, pepper, something sweet to add punch to the tomatoes (anything from a teaspoon of marmelade to Heinz chili sauce, depending on your mood), some drops of tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Fresh basil and garlic, if you have it, will turn this from husmanskost to gourmet food. This is also fast food; never takes longer than half an hour to make. Well, unless you make your own pasta, that is...


  1. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around "mincemeat" in this context, as for me "mincemeat" is a dried fruit pie. Mother bought the mincemeat pie filling in a box from the store, and that pie was always one of my holiday favorites. We only had it during Thanksgiving/Christmas.

    1. Perhaps there is a difference between minced meat and mincemeat that my dictionary doesn´t compute? I have heard of mincemeat pie, but never had it, and the recipes I have looked at do contain meat, like this one:
      I don´t suppose your pie has meat in it?

    2. The filling mother used does contain beef (or suet, not sure how that works), but she didn't add more than was already in the filling as it came. Definitely a product meant for dessert, and would never work over pasta. I looked to see if I could find her recipe, and I can't; so she may have used the recipe on the box for this:

    3. Very interesting! For us, having meat in a dessert is just, - well, wrong. But what do you call mincemeat when you use it in other cooking, like meatballs or meatloaf or something like Shepherd´s pie? Ground meat?

    4. I've never heard of using mincemeat for anything other than pie. Meatballs and meatloaf never have fruit in them. Beef, onion, green peppers, bread... but never fruit. Maybe other parts of the country are different. And I've never been quite sure what Shepherd's pie is. From what I've seen online, the closest we get to it is beef "pot pie": . Pot pie (the way I'm familiar with it) has chunks of meat (chicken or beef) in a crust and never has ground meat. I've also never seen pot pies with mashed potatoes, but I gather Shepherd's pie always has mashed potatoes. But we don't put fruit in any of it.

    5. I am starting to see what the misunderstanding is here: my dictionary translates köttfärs = minced meat and köttfärssås = mincemeat sauce. There is no fruit in that, it is simply ground meat. Either pork or beef or a mix thereof:

      The only bit of sweetness in the sauce is that little bit of sugar/jam/chili sauce that lifts the tomatoes. "Spagetti och köttfärssås'" is a Swedish version of Spagetti Bolognese. No fruit anywhere near it. ;-)