Smorrebrod! I just like saying it– smorrebrod! And if you’re John, you’ll reply, “Gesundheit.”
The challenge destination from My Kitchen, My World this month is Denmark. I admit to having to do an internet search of Danish food to get some ideas of what I might do. I could have taken the easy way out and written a post about a danish (as in your coffee and) inspired apple tart that I have in the hopper, but that seemed, well, like copping out.
Instead, I decided on doing smorrebrod, or Danish open-faced sandwiches. Smorrebrod is traditionally a slice of dark rye bread, spread with bits and pieces of things you might have had in your dinner the night before such as liverwurst or smoked fish. It’s economical since you not only used up leftovers but the bread was your plate which you could eat instead of cleaning. Smorrebrod has greatly evolved as the list of acceptable ingredients– poached lobster, seafood cakes, crisp vegetables– has grown, and now it seems to be just as much about color and plating as it is about taste. I decided that this would be a fun and challenging post topic, an excuse to play with my food and work on my plating skills.
That was before I learned that smorrebrod is serious business. Traditional ones are complicated with a long list of rules governing everything from what ingredients are to be paired together to the order in which you eat them. Well, no offense to the Danes, but I decided to cast tradition aside, putting together my sandwiches with what I had on hand and what sounded good to me.
I decided to make two different kinds of smorrebrod: a roasted vegetable on a lemon zest and dill cream cheese spread and tender pieces of steak on a bed of watercress paired with a stone ground mustard, butter, and truffle salt spread. Both were served on dark rye as I was not crazy enough to buy two different kinds of bread.
If you’re a traditionalist though, you can find so many delicious sounding recipes here. Really, I say put together whatever you want on your smorrebrod and follow tradition by following my simplified rules: 1) it tastes good, 2) it’s texturally interesting, and 3) it looks pretty. Oh, and add a 4th rule: drink some aquavit being sure to say, “Skol!” first.
Note: To make the beef smorrebrod a little more authentic, add some horseradish to the spread. These recipes make 4 smorrebrod each. They of course make great regular sandwiches– I had the best lunch yesterday combining my leftovers into a beef, watercress, roasted fennel and roasted tomato sandwich.
Roasted Vegetable Smorrebrod
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed of stems and tough outer pieces, then cut into wedges
- 6 large cherry tomatoes, halved
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 4 slices dark rye bread, trimmed of crusts
- 3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Hold the zucchini next to a slice of bread and cut the zucchini to the same length. Then slice the zucchini lengthwise into quarter-inch thick slices, about 1 inch wide. Do the same with the eggplant.
On a foil lined baking sheet, spread out the zucchini and eggplant slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. On a second foil lined baking sheet, spread out the cherry tomatoes and fennel bulbs. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place both sheets in the oven on racks placed in the center of the oven and roast for 20-24 minutes or until zucchini and eggplant are tender and lightly browned and tomatoes are wrinkled and juicy. Set aside to cool.
While vegetables roast, mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, and dill in a bowl. When vegetables are cool to touch, spread the cream cheese mixture from edge to edge on each slice of rye bread. Shingle the eggplant and zucchini together so that they look like vertical stripes, I was able to fit 2 slices of each on my bread. Slice the fennel into slivers and place a few slivers in the center of each vegetable smorrebrod, topped off with 2 or 3 tomato halves.
Beef and Watercress Smorrebrod
- 16 oz bone-in rib eye steak
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided and at room temperature
- olive oil
- truffle salt
- black pepper
- 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
- 1 bunch watercress, leaves removed from stems
- 4 pieces dark rye bread, crusts removed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with a couple of pinches of truffle salt and about 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. When the fats in the pan ripple and smoke a little, add the steak, cooking for 3-4 minutes or until browned on one side. Flip it over and place skillet in the oven, cooking for 12-15 minutes for medium rare or until an instant read thermometer reads 125 degrees F. Remove to a plate and let rest for 15 minutes.
Mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons of softened butter with the mustard and another pinch of truffle salt. Spread from edge to edge on each piece of rye bread. Place a small handful of watercress leaves on top of each slice. Cut the steak on a bias and against the grain in slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place about 4-5 slices on a diagonal on top of watercress.