Danish Burning Love, Brӕndade Kӕlighed, – the name is appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Whether the burning love is for bacon, for mashed potatoes, or for the person to whom you are serving this dish, this recipe is a celebration how satisfying simple food can be. Add enough butter to sail a flotilla, and you are moving from burning love to sheer heaven.
There are three components to Danish Burning Love: potatoes, bacon, and onions. This isn’t so much of a recipe as a suggestion on how to put three ingredients together, add pickled beets or red cabbage salad on the side, and serve family style. Oh, and add some parsley or chives on top for a bit of flair. So let me strike a conversational tone as we discuss the (minimal) steps involved.
Let’s start with the potatoes
Screenwriter Nora Ephron wrote of the emotional importance of potatoes in in her 1983 Roman á clef, Heartburn,
“In the end, I always want potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Nothing like mashed potatoes when you’re feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a thin cold slice of butter to every forkful. The problem with mashed potatoes, though, is that they require almost as much hard work as crisp potatoes, and when you’re feeling blue the last thing you feel like is hard work. Of course, you can always get someone to make the mashed potatoes for you, but let’s face it: the reason you’re blue is that there isn’t anyone to make them for you.”
Life is better now
Well, Ms. Ephron had her heart broken before the invention of the Insta-Pot. Regardless of one’s emotional state, making mashed potatoes is much easier now. Lefse teacher Heidi Eger kindly shares her process. Heidi usually cooks 6 pounds at a time in preparation for lefse class. To serve 4 people for this recipe you only need 3 pounds, about 7 medium potatoes. However, mashed potatoes freeze well, so consider making extra.
Heidi says to fill the InstaPot with water to the steam fill line. Put the steaming rack, then the potatoes in the pot. Steam for 17 minutes, then allow a natural release of pressure. Once you are able to open the pot, peel the potatoes or even just rub them with a clean flour sack towel to remove the skin.
Proceed with your favorite mashed potato recipe. Then set the mashed potatoes aside, keeping them warm. Danish Burning Love is a great opportunity to add flourishes to your mashed potatoes. Cheese, garlic, mashed carrots or rutabaga – any one can be added to good effect.
Bring on the bacon
You need one pound. Danish recipes state to buy a slab of bacon, then cube it. If you live in the metro area, you can buy Ingebretsen’s bacon, smoked on location, as a slab or in strips. If you are too far away to visit the Meat Market, you can try a local butcher shop. Alternatively, you can slice bacon strips so you have small rectangles of meat. Bacon strips are easier to “cube” with a knife if you place them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before cutting. Cutting the strips with a pair of kitchen shears also works.
Fry until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, saving the bacon fat.
Thinly, thinly slice six sweet onions. A mandolin makes this go quickly, though it’s not required. Determine how much of the bacon fat you want to use (I’m not here to judge), then place the onions in the pan. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the onions, put on medium high heat and cook until until caramelized. Stir periodically to prevent burning.
Note: All three of these components can be made ahead of time, then heated and assembled the next day. Consider doubling the amount of onion you cook so you can have a handy supply in the refrigerator to perk up a sandwich. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar or Dark Tickle Lingonberry Vinegar for a little acidic contrast.
Now, to serve
Place the mashed potatoes in a large serving bowl. Make a slight hollow in the middle, then place the onions and bacon on top. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley. Serve family style, pass a bowl of pickled beets and let love prevail.
A Valentine’s Note: Looking to attract someone who can make Danish Burning Love for you or just interested in how Norwegians in centuries past found love? Eirik Storesund, creator and host of Brute Norse podcast will be speaking at the Vesterheim Museum tomorrow, February 15, on just that topic. Eririk has collected spells and “mostly bad advice” from Norwegian grimoires and vernacular traditions.
I asked Eirik to share a simple spell. He obliged with the following:
Vær så god!