Pinnekjøtt is a Rib of Lamb dish popular in western parts of Norway, particularly at Christmas.
To make it, the ribs are first salted, then dried, then sometimes smoked. Then they are usually steamed over birch branches.
To steam them, you first soak the prepared ribs overnight in cold water. The next day, you cover the bottom of a large pot with a lattice of fresh birch branches about the thickness of a finger, from which you have removed the bark, and then add to the pot water to just come up to the bottom of the branches — the water mustn’t cover the branches or the ribs will be simmering in water, which is not the idea.
You cut the ribs all up along the bones so that each rib piece is separate. Put the ribs in on top of the branches, and let them cook about 2 hours or until the meat will come off the bone easily. Refill water as needed during this steaming time. After this, some people like to brown the ribs under the grill or in a frying pan.
They are traditionally served with boiled potatoes, rutabaga or swede mashed with milk in it, sauerkraut, mustard or cranberries mashed with sugar, a flatbread, and occasionally a dark brown gravy from the cooking juices. They are often served with a coarse sausage as well.
Gravy is perhaps more usual if people cheat and prepare them in the oven, without the branches.
If Pinnekjøtt is served as the only meat, owing to the amount of fat and bone, allow about 500g per person. Allow 350g per person if served with another meat such as sausage.
Owing to the harsh winters in Norway, animals were always slaughtered in the fall. Salting and smoking were the main ways to preserve the meat.
Pinnekjøtt means “stick meat.”