Swedish Stew (Kalops)

Kalops is a traditional Swedish stew, first recorded in the 18th century. The word kalops itself is a cognate with the English word collops, which simply means “a slice of meat” – there’s actually some dispute as to whether the Swedish or English word came first. Either way, this stew is very similar to many English stews, but with a few Scandinavian twists: its signature flavor comes from a healthy amount of allspice, and it is commonly served with pickled beets. When carrots are added, the dish is called Skånsk Kalops, referring to the Skåne region (which is in Southern Sweden – perhaps carrots grow most abundantly there?).

Kalops is most often prepared with chunks of beef, but reindeer or elk are used as well. Personally, I thought it would be neat to make it with bison chuck roast, which US Wellness Meats recently sent me to try. It was pretty awesome. Overall, I loved this stew, and its characteristic allspice-heavy flavor gave it a warm, hearty, and very distinct taste.


Serves six

2 lbs chuck roast (beef, bison, reindeer), sliced into 1″ chunks
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
2 yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tsp ground allspice (~10 whole berries, ground)
3 bay leaves
4 cups beef broth

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
pickled beets as accompaniment

I don’t have a pickled beets recipe posted (yet!), but it doesn’t take much: some beets, salt, and water left in a jar for a few days will work perfectly. Here is a quick and easy recipe, or you could make them according to my Kabees El Lift recipe. You can often find jars of fermented beets in health food stores that are either sugar-free or low in sugar.

To prepare your meat, slice it into 1″ chunks, and season it with the little salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Warm a dutch oven on medium/high heat with ghee/oil added, about three minutes. Add the roast and brown, in batches (it took me three batches total), being careful not to overcrowd the dutch oven. Should take about six minutes per batch. Remove and set the browned meat aside.

Add the diced onion, and lower the heat to medium – sauté until softened and translucent, about five minutes.

This is what the onions will look like when ready. At this point, add the garlic and sauté for another minute, then return the meat (and its juices) to the dutch oven. Add the allspice, bay leaves, and stir in enough beef broth to mostly cover the meat, about four cups.

Cover the dutch oven and put it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is soft. After an hour, add the carrots.

While the meat is cooking, peel and slice the potatoes, then put them in a pot with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until easily pierced with a fork, about eight minutes. Technically you could do this at any point in the process, but I preferred to do it right before the meat was ready, so they were still warm when I plated everything.

This is what your stew will look like after 1 1/2 hours. Now let’s finish it off.

Remove the meat and carrots and put them somewhere that retains heat (I like to stick them in the microwave). Also remove and discard the bay leaves.

Put the dutch oven on the stove and reduce the liquid on med/high heat, until about half of it has reduced – should take about five minutes. Next, chop up a couple of your cooked potato pieces (I used about half a potato) and add it to the liquid. Lastly, using an immersion blender, blend the liquid/onions/potatoes. Wah-lah! Instant thick stew, without having to use anything silly like flour (which is usually used).

Return the meat and carrots to the stew, and stir in the fresh chopped parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with potatoes and pickled beets.

Special shout-out to my buddy Peter at strictlypaleoish.com for providing me with some tips, and digging up some history on the dish!

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21 thoughts on “Swedish Stew (Kalops)

  1. I love recipe, it’s such a classic! I love how many braises you do as well because braising is one of my absolute favorite methods of cooking. Beautifully done and photographed as usual Russ.

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      1. Hi Josh!

        You think of replacing the potatoes with the butternut squash? And if so, as thickener or side?

        As far as thickener go, you don’t _have_ to thicken this dish…it’s rather just a matter of texture preference. Some recipes call for it, some don’t.
        It’s definitely still a Kalops either way :)
        (If you do though, note that it will add some sweetness (traditionally there’s nothing sweet about this dish…but on the other hand, “traditionally” is also there so that we can modernize it, right?) Ie. give it a try :)

        As a side you could definitely go for it (or parsnips or similar).
        Personally, I would probably go for steamed cauliflower or something similar, but most probably nothing at all since there is plenty of “sides” in there already with the carrots and onions :)

        Not sure I answered your question really (?), but hope it helps :)

        Take care // Peter

        Russ: Sorry for hijacking the question!

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          1. :)

            Great, great post by the way.
            You have absolutely captured the soul of this dish, this is exactly what it’s about!
            Spot on!

            Love to see my country being represented in the TDM repertoire too (even though it’s not the first time) :)

            Take care and have a great day!

            //Peter

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    1. Allspice is also called pimento. It looks like a large grain of pepper – about the size of a grain/ ball of tapioca, and it is brown in colour. It is used for savoury and sweet dishes. In South Africa we use it mainly as a spice used in making old fashioned cookies.

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  2. This sounds like one hearty stew. I love the history on it too. If I had the opportunity I would totally make it with bison just to get another level of flavor in there. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. This is a wonderful recipe! Reminds me of Swedish meatballs; it made for a great dinner on a cold Pacific NW night. Thanks for all of the great paleo meals you come up with–my partner and I love your website!

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