As you know from my previous posts, food is an important part of the Yule traditions in Norway. Christmas eve is the time for the family gathering and holiday dinner. Church bells throughout the land are ringing in Christmas at 5 o’clock and then the great celebration starts. I remember so well that time when I was a child. How we all sat around the coffee table and the children were delirious with anticipation. We had to eat dinner – that was a part of the ritual – but what we really were waiting for was the chance to open the presents. Every year one of our uncles would dress up as Santa Claus and sneak out of the house and come again to the door and deliver presents to all us good boys and girls, and you can believe we were GOOD just then!!
Growing older, I also learned to really enjoy the food too and today I’m going to share a very traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve dish: Pinnekjøtt (rib of lamb). On the net, I’ve found that 56% of the populations eat Ribbe (roosted rib) and 31% eats Pinnekjøtt. As you can see in the picture to the left, the dinner is served. So why don’t you sit in while I tell you a bit about this dish from the start until it’s served:

Soaking in water – The sticks form a rack.

Pinnekjøtt (literally “stick meat”) is actually traditional in the western parts as they have a lot of sheep. I’ve eaten it for the last 20 years though, as I think Ribbe is a bit too fatty. Pinnekjøtt is salted, dried and sometimes smoked lamb’s ribs which then are steamed, over birch branches, and served with potato, mashed rutabaga, beer and aquavit. One debate is if it is called stick meat because of the visual nature of the individual rib bones or from the birch sticks which are made into a steaming rack in the kettle. I’ll go for the last explanation and as you can see in the kettle above, there are sticks (a bit modern nowadays as we don’t cut and whittle them ourselves, but buy them in the grocery). You have to soak the meat in water over night to take out some of the salt and make it tender again.

Bon Appetit

The picture above shows my plate and how I like it. You see the potatoes, Pinnekjøtt, mashed rutabaga and Brussels sprouts (my favourite) and on the lower part of the plate, you find lingon berries. The beer and the aquavit is a must too, of course:-)

Yuletide is full of food traditions in Norway and the Nordic countries, so stay tuned as there will be more culinary posts to come! Until then: I wish you all a Happy Holiday Season:-)


  1. How about lutefisk? Do you make it? Your pictures of food make me hungry!

  2. I agree.. your post and photos are making me hungry! I like eating ribs. The dish you talked about sound so delicious!

    I love Christmas Eve dinners with Family. What a wonderful tradition.

  3. Mother of Invention

    Okay, so I disagree…I’m not hungry! LOL! I don’t eat lamb but I love those veggies.
    We used to make a Frenc Canadian dish “Tortiere”, a meat and potato pie with pastry for Christmas Eve dinner.

    Have a wonderful dinner and Christmas, Renny!

  4. Those ribs do look good, Renny. I wonder if pork ribs would be good prepared that way?

    And I LOVE Brussel’s sprouts! Hubby doesn’t care for them much, but I love them boiled or steamed and buttered. Yummy!

    Merry Christmas to you and Diane and your family, Renny. Sending wishes across the world for love, joy, and happiness this most Holy of seasons, and throughout the coming New Year. :-)

  5. Hallo Renny! God jul til deg og din familie!

    Hmmm I only tasted pinnekjøtt once but the one that i really fancy is svineribbe which I just had today. hehehe

  6. I had Lamb the other night but it so darn expensive here that one can’t afford to buy it very often. Good stuff though..

  7. Merry christmas to you, sir renny!

    We also have noche buena (night goodness in literal translation) where we dine with some of the finest Christmas feast cuisines in Christmas eve.

    The usual keso de bola (cheese balls) which honestly doesnt taste pretty well (for me), the Christmas ham (just like the tastiest hams in the world, but with philippine sweetness), and the regular party treats like spaghetti, hotdog on sticks (pinnekjot? hehe), pansit (dry noodle recipe), afritada, mechado, menudo (spanish influenced tomate and beef/pork stews0, lechon (roasted piglet), and many, many more.

    Maligayang pasko po sa inyo, Sir Renny
    (Merry Christmas to you, Sir Renny)

  8. and oh… “Merry Christmas to you from the Queer Chef and Neil Bernardo”

  9. I love lamb.
    I am the only one in the house that does though. So I buy the ribs because I can make them last a long time. I pkg them up in bags a few together. Just enough for one.
    I buy chops too.
    I think I would like the cured lamb. Seeing we have salt beef and salt pork here.

    I forgot to take photos of our Christmas Eve Feast. We have a neighbourhood gathering at our home ever Christmas Eve. I make a buffet. I Change the menu year to year. This year the hot food was Burgundy meatballs and the cold was cheeses and cuts of salami and ham. I had pickles. One must put out dill and sweet pickles. We have cakes too. I make mincemeat (spiced fruit preserve with molasses in it.)tarts. Albert Cake tarts( a scottish recipe of tarts with a pinch of rasberry jam in them and then cake batter poured into the shell then baked, and iced. Cookies and brandy chocolates. Dips and Crackers and Buns. No gift opening for us on Christmas Eve. It is Church for some then to our house for an evening snack and socializing to the wee hours of the morning. Most years a few people stay over till Boxing Day(The day after Christmas Day)All 5 bedrooms are accupied this year!. And Christmas day overnight will will have 5 bedrooms and two sofas occupied.
    It is great to have friends and family stay over. Days of snacking and napping and feasting and resting and talking and playing music on the piano or accordian or violin or guitars.

    Warm Wishes for Christmas and the holiday.

  10. Back to blogging for a bit just to say, “Happy Holidays!!” to you my dear friend :-)

    missy xx

    PS. Any cool pressies? ;-)

  11. Thanks for your Christmas Greeting. I’ve always loved food and your post looked absolutely delcious! One day when I get a chance, I must visit Norway.

  12. Merry Christmas Renny

  13. So that’s what pinnekøtt is… Hmmm. Well, I had ribbe last night and had my second encounter with Aquavit and still it sent shivers down my spine. Hehehe.

  14. We had pinnekjøtt on our table also, like we do every year.
    Today we’ve had kveite with my parents.

  15. I really had no idea what you ate at xmas eve in Norway until now! Thanks for the description.

    But I do think that I prefer Swedish xmas food :-) I guess it’s all about what we’re used too huh? *lol*

    I have to get me a cell phone with a good digicamera in it soon, so I can take as nice pics as you do! I wrote a post but without the pics :-(

  16. Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!

    Translation: Merry Christmas, Renny!

    Greetings from sunny Philadelphia.

    Your yuletide feast is reminiscent of the Polish Wigilia dinner. We also exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the only difference is the traditional Wigilia is a meatless meal. Pierogi’s, mushroom soup, beans and saurkraut, and dried fruit compote are common ingredients in this meal. Before eating, we pass around an Oplatek – a wafer similar to alter bread – breaking off a piece and sharing wishes of health, wealth and happiness for the New Year with everyone at the table.

    Christmas Day is when a more traditional American dinner is served.

  17. merry christmas! may this day bring you lots n lots of joy and happiness!

  18. Cold Christmas with Warmth Food :D Ahhh…what a christmas meal!

    Happy Holiday to you & family Renny!

  19. you always make us feel hungry..

    renny, just wanna say thank you for being an online friend. i’m really grateful for having discovered your blog. happy new year! i pray that 2007 will be a great year for you and diane. more travels for you (meaning more stories for us. hehe), and more food to discover :)

  20. wonderful, renny, both this post and the one below. that picture of dawn is just STUNNING! and the meal sounds so different from anythign i’ve had but i’d enjoy giving it a try. it’s been great learning the nordic traditions!

    i hope you all have a very merry christmas!

  21. Thanks for sharing this, Renny. It’s so different from our traditions so it’s nice to learn about others’.

    Happy holidays!

  22. Feliz Navidad desde España!!

    More blessings and more food??? nah!! happiness!

    Happy new year!!

  23. Oh, Rennie:

    You are my favorite. My wife’s, too (Big Pig), as well as our daughter (Piglett).

  24. To all: Sorry I’m late replying, but have been busy eating (she new post tomorrow!)

    @Barbara: I make lutefisk yea – proof soon!

    @Liza’s Eyview: Glad you liked. Tomorrow there will be more Norwegian, family Christmas eating:-)

    @MotherOfInvention: We are only half way through – see more tomorrow!

    @Diane: Pork ribs are very different and better roasted in the oven.
    Thanks for the greetings and I return your wishes!

    @Charles: Thanks. Good to know you’ve had Ribbe!

    @Grish: Glad you liked it! & Merry Christmas to you too!

    @Neil: Thanks for sharing yours – I like that kind of educating comments – sound delicious.

    @Lynn: Lamb is good, even for one.
    Thanks for sharing your Christmas Eve Feast – you know I love to read that kind of comments as we get to learn about each other’s traditions and culture!

    @Missy: Soooo glad to see you back and on time to wish you Merry Christmas!

    @OsakaOtaku: Your welcome and also welcome over whenever you like!

    @Mark: Glad you’ve had some Norwegian traditional food and Aquavit is a must of course – get use to it!

    @Britt-Arnhild: Fish at Christmas Day sounds like a good idea!

    Mrs Liferuiser: Glad you learned something from your neighbors country then! and it should be what you are used to on Christmas Eve of course:-)
    Pics or not – your post are always great!

    @Sky: So glad you shared your tradition too – that’s what enrich posts and comments – thanks!

    @The Bizarre Jokester: Thanks – hope the same for you!

    @Shionge: Need something to warm us op you know. Happy Holiday Season to you and your family too!

    @Tin-tin: I appreciate you too and love to read yours too! Great way to keep in touch and sharing foods and our daily life:-)

    @Lime: Thanks for you kind words and you know I love to share and to give you something to learn about Norway.
    Mine was great – hope yours were too!

    @Teena: Yea, blogsphear is great this way!

    @NeiLDC: Thanks – you too!

    @PigDoggie: Wooow, a whole bunch of fans – thanks:-)

  25. Merry Christmas Renny! Hope you’ve had a great one!

    (P.S With love from the Comment Whore too) ;)

  26. Renny, after all the good food you had on Christmas Eve, I’m sure you had a real traditional quality family time this Christmas.
    PS. Sorry posting this so late, but I think we got our broadband installed this afternoon. I’ll check it out.
    Give our love from me and Anna to Diane.

  27. While not the typical food I am familiar with (Polish), it does look good and I am always willing to try new foods.

    A few Christmases ago I prepared a Swedish dish Sillsallad (with beets) – which my Peruvina guests had some difficulty with. Of course, I had created a hodgepdge of foods including a pear-leak soup (which was a hit).

  28. My woman is missing her Pinnekjøtt which she would usually have New years Eve. (My Ribbe and sausage came out very good …for an American! by the way. Next year we head to Oslo for the holidays. This year the misplaced vikings will have to make do with Filet Mignon for NY Eve
    God Jul!

  29. Wish this Christmas Eve brings for you the gifts of happiness, good helth & joy ! I love Christmas Eve dinners with Family.

    Thanks for the visit and greetings – wish you a good one too!

  30. Ceux-ci sont absolument adorable! Elle fait un travail fantastique!

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  32. Thoughtful and interesting, thank you. I grew up in the philipines but moved to america at such a young age I barely remember anything apart from the delicious food. I finally found some authentic Filipino recipes if you want to take a look, I thought I’d share it with you!

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  34. Nice to read your post of 2006.
    I’ll write one tomorrow on my blog!!! As you see I’m not so often on the web since I practice 11 hours of theater per week and began the piano!!! i should rent an appartment a the begining of january!!! We are so excited with Pierre!! So many plans for 2011!!!!
    Bisous bisous!!!

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