The Danish have a traditional dish called Smørrebrød, or “buttered bread”, an open-faced sandwich style that evolved many years before the Earl of Sandwich’s 2-slice creation. These sandwiches are often made with a dark rye or other brown bread, though white bread may be preferred as a base for milder-flavored toppings like chicken, shrimp and cheese. The Smørrebrød concept originated from a time when a large piece of bread was used as a plate for meals and then discarded. The juices from the toppings would soak into the bread, until the bread itself eventually became a desired part of the meal.
A wide variety of toppings are used, both hot and cold. These are three sandwiches that were available at the Scandinavian Christmas Festival earlier this month – herring with a dill sauce, pork, and Jarlsberg cheese.;
I tried my hand at a few open-faced sandwiches throughout the month. Here are some of my creations using mostly Scandinavian ingredients. Sources say that ‘anything goes’, with the general rules that:
- The bread must be completely covered,
- The bread slices should be thin and sturdy, and
- The combination of ingredients must be appealing to both the eye and the tastebuds, with appropriate garnishes to that effect.
Roast Beef, and Italian Salad Smørrebrød
These two attempts were based on recipes I found in the cookbooks, but with my own tweaks based on personal taste and what was available in my pantry. The one on the right is roast beef and Havarti cheese, topped with a vinegar cucumber salad, horseradish sauce and fresh dill garnish. I used Shank’s Bakery rosemary sourdough bread for this one.
The smørrebrød on the left is my twist on an “Italian salad” mentioned in one of the Danish cookbooks. It has grated cabbage, carrots and apples, with green pepper slivers, finely chopped dill pickle, ham pieces, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Served on Shank’s Bakery garden harvest sourdough and garnished with parsley and tomato.
Ginger Sausage Smørrebrød
Ginger sausage is a recipe I found in a Danish cookbook, I used the sausage patties to make a sandwich with my mom’s Hearty Sourdough bread (available from Shank’s Bakery), muenster cheese, mayonnaise and lettuce.
2 eggs, separated
1 lb. bulk ground sausage
½ c. chopped dill pickles
1 tsp. ground ginger
Beat the egg yolks and mix with sausage, pickles and ginger. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into sausage mixture. Shape into small patties and fry until browned.
In a little of the bacon grease, fry the onion until translucent. Then add the apple slices and saute until tender, but not mushy. Add back the crumbled bacon. Spread a light layer of mayonnaise and/or mustard on the bread and top with fried apples and bacon mixture. I used a light pumpernickel bread for this one, which I made with rye flour, caraway and molasses.