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Published December 11, 2013, 03:28 PM

The Great Indoors: Making peace with rømmegrøt

It’s time I make nice with rømmegrøt. The warm and sweet Norwegian pudding might seem harmless enough, but I’ve had a beef with it for more than a decade.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

It’s time I make nice with rømmegrøt. The warm and sweet Norwegian pudding might seem harmless enough, but I’ve had a beef with it for more than a decade.

It all began in 1999 when I was working weekend news at WDAY-TV. One particular Sunday night in December, I told my co-workers that I would spend my dinner break at my husband’s Christmas Dinner at Concordia College. It was a feast of all things Scandinavian. My co-worker Kevin Wallevand, the most Norwegian person I know, asked if I could somehow bring him a cup of warm rømmegrøt. I had no clue what it was, but I adore Kevin so said “Sure.”

Once I got to the dinner and asked a few sweater-clad Cobbers where I could find the rømmegrøt, they pointed to a big crockpot-like container of something that looked a little like wallpaper paste. I was told it was fabulous and I was welcome to bring a bowl back to Kevin (those Norwegians watch out for each other).

So, as I left, I poured a bowl of the steaming porridge in a take-home container. The only problem was there were no lids (which makes sense as most partygoers have class enough NOT to bring the food home as if it were a McDonald’s drive-thru.) I told myself I could handle it. But the ice patch in the parking lot disagreed. Ouch!

By the time I made it back to WDAY, I delivered Kevin a half full bowl of rømmegrøt while wearing a rømmegrøt-covered wool coat. Months later, I was still picking dried rømmegrøt off that coat. Ick. So I lost my taste for the stuff.

But a few days ago, another famous Fargo Norwegian, Frode Tilden, convinced me to give it another shot. He’s a native Norwegian and the genial host of the Norsk Christmas Party at the Sons of Norway. He invited me to meet with Phil Hokanson, the Sons of Norway chef, as he prepared batch after batch of rømmegrøt for the party.

Hokanson estimates they make at least 100 gallons of the stuff every year at the lodge and people gobble it up. It freezes well (good thing for a Scandinavian food) so people buy in bulk for those off-months when rømmegrøt-making slows down.

I found it interesting that rømmegrøt literally means “sour cream porridge” in Norwegian and many recipes I found online do include sour cream. But the rømmegrøt they make at the Sons of Norway in Fargo does not. Hokanson was making a batch for the Christmas Party. (Picture enough rømmegrøt to feed a horde of invading Vikings wearing Santa hats.)

So he made several batches of the following recipe. One batch makes about 1½ gallons (22 servings) so it’s enough to serve in a crockpot for a party or at least stick in the freezer for another time.

Hokanson says it’s a pretty simple recipe, but there are a couple of key things you must do. He says it’s important to get the milk to the perfect temperature (195 degrees) and to whip it well (You know, kind of like Devo). He says it’s simple enough for non-Norwegians to try. I think I’ll do it. This time Kevin can come to my house to eat it.

Party Rømmegrøt

1 lb. butter

1 gallon whole milk (cream is good too)

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

Heat milk to 195 degrees. Be careful not to scald it. While milk is heating, melt the butter in another pan. Stir dry ingredients into melted butter. Once milk is heated stir this mixture into milk, a little at a time. Whip vigorously until it is the consistency you like.

(Makes about 1½ gallons, or 22 servings)

Watch ‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on www.InforumTV.com