This week I’m bringing you back to Sweden again, introducing you to the “Tjälknöl”…hope you don’t mind?

If I would translate “Tjälknöl”, it would be “Frost Lump” (“Tjäle” is the Swedish word for frozen ground, and a “knöl” is a lump), and it’ll all make perfect sense in a bit…

Tjälknöl is a fairly young dish, it was invented in the early 80’s, and as for many great inventions it happened by mistake, here’s the story:
Ragnhild Nilsson, the wife of moose hunter Eskil Nilsson, asked her husband one evening to thaw a frozen moose steak in the oven on low temperature.
He did…and forgot about it, and Ragnhild found it still laying in the oven the next day.
She understood it would be rather tasteless eating it like that, so in an attempt to save it she placed it in a brine for a few hours.
When they later ate it, they both found it to be not only delicious, but also extremely juicy and tender…
A year or so later, she submitted the recipe for a national contest to find new regional signature dishes, and won!
Tjälknöl was declared the new signature dish of Medelpad (a region of northern Sweden), and it was spread nation wide.

When making Tjälknöl, the brine is often seasoned. Common flavorings are juniper berries, thyme, red wine etc., feel free to experiment yourselves…
Also, there is normally a little bit of sugar added too…I’ve replaced it with honey in the recipe below, but I’m guessing you could omit it if that’s a concern for you.

The cooking time might seem scary at a first glance, but trust me…it’s a really convenient method as most could be done while you’re asleep(!), and the effort required from you is minimal.
If cooking meat this way you’ll keep it very juicy and tender…not the slightest dry!
Also, the surface get a really cool texture…

Now here’s what I did:

(Serves 5-6)

• 35 oz (1kg) frozen boneless Beef Steak, e.g. Sirloin Tip, Porterhouse, Heel of Round etc. (Game steaks will do perfect too!)
• 34 oz (1L) Water.
• 7 tbsp Salt.
• 2 tbsp Honey.
• 2 Bay Leaves, a bit crushed.
• 5 cloves of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped.
• 1 tsp crushed Black Pepper.
• 1 tsp dried Thyme.

How To:
Place the frozen meat on a grid over a dripping tray on the lowest tier in the oven.
Note: I suggest doing this step either right before going to bed and let it cook over night, or to get up early and then go back to bed for a few hours…whatever you prefer.

Turn the oven on and set it to 210F (100C).

After about 2-3 hours you should be able to place a meat thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Cook until the core temperature is about 150F (65C), which should take about 8-10 hours (depending on animal, shape and cut).
Note: I cooked the meat on the pictures until about 153F (67C). I would have liked it a bit more red, so the next time I’ll take it out around 144-145F (62-63C) instead.
Generally it should be rare/red at 140F (60C), medium rare/pink around 153F (67C) and well done around 164F (73C).

About 20 minutes prior to when the meat is done, put the rest of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil to make a brine.

Pour the brine into a large plastic bag (use double bags just in case!), then place the hot meat in the bagged brine when it has reached the desired temperature.

Seal the bag(s) and place in the fridge for 4-5 hours (don’t go longer than 5 hours, it’ll just make the meat too salty!).
Turn the bag(s) over once every hour.

When 4-5 hours have passed, take the meat out and pat it dry.
If it’s dinner time, then slice it up thinly (otherwise wrap it in foil and put it back in the fridge until it’s time…).

Serve either cold or slightly re-heated.

There you have it…one of the juiciest steaks you’ve ever eaten!

I served this with some Roasted Pesto Tossed Butternut Squash & Sweet Potatoes and a simple salad…it was great!


17 thoughts on “Tjälknöl

  1. Pingback: Tjälknöl | Paleo Digest

    • Hi Elena!

      Yes, for this method the meat must be frozen.

      (The point is: As it’s slowly thawing from the outside in, the center is still thawing for quite a while after the surface has started to cook. As the outside starts to cook the meat gets sealed, resulting in a very juicy roast.
      Quite genius really…) :)

      Hope you get the chance to try it out, and if you do I would love to hear how it turned out and how you experienced it!

      Have a great day!

      // Peter

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Strictly Paleo…ish! | Strictly Paleo…ish!

  3. Pingback: Tjälknöl – Ledová hrouda | Metlův Paleo/Primal food blog

  4. Hey Peter,

    I borrowed this wonderful recipe for my blog (definitely crediting you as you can see!) and never ever planning to use it as mine!

    Just wanted to shout out that I really love the way you write, create and do your blog! So many nice things in here and from time to time trying recipes as possible in my country (sometimes have to do some variation)

    Keep up the best work you are doing here and I am looking forward to reading new recipes and trying them!

    Mirek from Czech Republic

    • Hi Mirek!

      Thank you so much for all the wonderful words, I can’t even describe how happy it makes me to read such positive feedback! :)

      You are more than welcome to re-cook, re-make and re-post any recipe you like!
      (All I ask for is a linked source reference, and I know you always carefully include that so no worries, get your cook on!) :)

      Actually I’m honored every time a reader cooks any of my recipes, and if I get the possibility to read about it too it’s even more awesome!

      Take care Mirek, and thanks for letting me know. It was a great experience and totally made my day! :)

      All the best

  5. Pingback: Tjälknöl (Roasted and Brined Beef) | The Domestic Man

  6. Too hot! FAR too hot. 75 C at MOST, preferrably 50! It’ll take AGES, and you’ll swear and HATE on it…but it turns out divine!

    • Never tried it that low, but I’m absolutely sure it turns out great too! (Have to say “too” as I do think this recipe is fantastic.)

      (Some people might have food safety concerns going below 60C though.)

      Cheers! // Peter

  7. My roast is a degree or two from being finished. The brine is all ready to go. Can’t wait to try the end product in 4-5 hours. I’ll let you know how it all turns out and upload some pics on instagram. Can’t wait – Maija

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