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:
• 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.
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!