Lapskaus is simply a Norwegian stew made up of meat and vegetables, with both dark and light versions. Brun “brown” lapskaus is made with beef that is browned first before the other ingredients are added. Some also prepare brun lapskaus with the addition of a brown gravy. Lys “light” lapskaus is typically made with pork, salted or smoked, and cooked in the sauce rather than browned first.
It’s thought that lapskaus is of German origin. Historically, it’s referred to as a skipskost (ship meal) because it was served and eaten on-board ships while at sea, although the original version was far less imaginative than what we recognise as lapskaus today. On-board the ship, the stew was made with dry biscuits (neutral-flavored crackers) that were soaked before being added to the meat. The dish’s popularity spread among the seamen and later variations could include potatoes, beef, fish, brown sauce, and butter. It’s believed that lapskaus made its way from the ship to the Norwegian home during the 1800s and has stayed ever since.
Norwegians adore their lapskaus and rightly so – a big pot of slow-cooked stew teeming with seasonal vegetables is always welcome as a quick and easy meal to serve during the week. It’s also a fantastic dish to cook over an outdoor fire, especially in the colder months.
Feel free to vary the vegetables, and if you have flatbrød (flatbread) on hand, it’s customary to slather a few pieces with butter and dip them into the stew while you feast – perhaps a nod to the version once served on-board the ships.
Beef and Vegetable Stew (Brun Lapskaus)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 ¾ pounds (800 g) beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2 ½ cm) cubes
- 3 cups (720 ml) beef stock
- 1 large onion
- 1 ½ cups (150 g) celery root or parsnip, peeled
- 2 large carrots, peeled,
- 2 cups (400 g) potatoes, peeled
- 1 large leak, rinsed
- Parsley, to garnish
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Add the beef and brown on each side, you may need to brown the beef in batches. Place the beef in a large pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
Chop all the vegetables into ½-inch (1 ½ cm) pieces, except the leeks which should be sliced thinly. Add the vegetables to the pot and return to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t be tempted to add more liquid as the vegetables will cook down, resulting in a somewhat-thick stew.
Serve warm with flatbread or bread, and garnish with chopped parsley.