Wednesday, 17 December 2014

More Finnish Christmas food

I wrote a bit about Finnish Christmas food with my potato casserole recipe. This oven baked carrot casserole (porkkanalaatikko) is another traditional Finnish Christmas side dish, that would usually be served with ham or turkey. I'm not quite sure why these oven baked casseroles have a reputation of being a lot of work to make, as actually they don't take that much effort. And the best thing is you can make them ahead of time and freeze them. Then all you have to do is defrost them for Christmas eve dinner and pop them in the oven as they only improve from re-heating. Alternatively, you can prepare the casserole but freeze it before baking, and then do the full baking after de-frosting on Christmas Eve (let the casserole de-frost over night in the fridge).

Oven baked carrot casserole (porkkanalaatikko):
2 dl (200 ml or 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) short grained rice or "pudding rice" (Finnish puuroriisi)
1/2 litre water
1 litre (full-fat) milk
1 kg carrots
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg (or more to taste)
2 tbsp syrup* (or 1 tbsp sugar) 
breadcrumbs and butter

*Finnish syrup is darker than golden syrup but lighter than treacle. I mix 1/3 treacle with 2/3 golden syrup to get something resembling Finnish syrup

The howto: 
Bring 1/2 litre of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rice and cook until the water has absorbed. Add the milk, and cook until rice is cooked and a loose porridge forms (about 30-40 mins). Let cool.

Peel and chop carrots. Bring enough water to a boil in a saucepan to cover the carrots. Cook carrots until soft. Drain water and mash carrots (you can use a potato masher, ricer or handheld blender). 

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Mix the carrots with the rice porridge and add eggs, spices and syrup. Divide into two oven proof bowls and sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs and place small knobs of butter on top. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. The top should be golden, and the carrot bake should be bubbling. In my opinion, a longer baking time makes a more tasty casserole.

The verdict:
This is one of those dishes that just have to be on the Christmas table, or else Christmas is ruined. It's really tasty and although so many buy the casseroles ready-made from the store, I think the home-made variety is infinitely better. And it's not that much of a hassle really. I like to make it a day ahead, and then re-heat on the day. The only thing that really takes a bit of time is the carrot peeling, but unless you are making in double or triple serving (and you shouldn't need to unless you are having several dozen guests) this will be more than enough for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and possibly Boxing Day as well. And after that you don't want any more anyways, it's that extra bit delicious because you only get it once a year. However, this is a really cheap dish to make and it makes quite a few servings, so I don't see why you couldn't make it at other times of the year as well, as a thrifty side. Delicious with some ham, turkey or any other meat. I even makes a light lunch all by itself.

1 comment:

  1. Umm,, well to be honest the picture itself does not appear to show a palatable or delicious food item but i am sure it tastes better than it looks. Thanks for posting nonetheless.