I love finding new ways to transform cheap cuts of meat into something spectacular. I think most people feel the same way, as my Eye of Round Roast recipe remains the most popular recipe on my blog. So when I read my friend Peter’s Tjälknöl recipe from earlier this year, I knew that I needed to try it. The method intrigued me: take a frozen chunk of lean beef and slow cook it until it reaches a certain temperature, then remove it and let it sit in a brine for a few hours. The Tjälknöl came out utterly delicious and not unlike roast beef, perfect for thinly slicing and enjoying cold.
I love the story behind the dish, which I pulled straight from Peter’s excellent blog, Striclty Paleo…ish:
“Ragnhild Nilsson, the wife of moose hunter Eskil Nilsson, asked her husband one evening to thaw a frozen moose steak in the oven on low temperature. He did…and forgot about it, and Ragnhild found it still laying in the oven the next day. She understood it would be rather tasteless eating it like that, so in an attempt to save it she placed it in a brine for a few hours. When they later ate it, they both found it to be not only delicious, but also extremely juicy and tender. A year or so later, she submitted the recipe for a national contest to find new regional signature dishes, and won! Tjälknöl was declared the new signature dish of Medelpad (a region of northern Sweden), and it spread nationwide.”
I took a few liberties with the original recipe as I converted it to US measurements, mostly because I’m constantly tweaking things in the kitchen.
3-4 lb frozen lean boneless roast (I used eye of round roast, but london broil or rump roast would work fine)
3 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup honey
3 bay leaves, slightly crushed
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp each dried thyme and black pepper
4 whole allspice or juniper berries
1 cup ice cubes
The timing of this dish is important, as you need to be able to put it in the oven, take it out of the oven, and take it out of the brine at specific times. I found that putting the roast in the oven right before going to bed meant that it was ready to take out when I woke up, and I was able to take it out of the brine 5 hours later (just in time for lunch).
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees F, then place the frozen roast on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Place the roast in the oven and roast until its internal temperature reaches 140-155 degrees F, about 8-10 hours (start checking it with an instant-read thermometer at 7 hours). Remove it from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the brine.
In a pot, heat the water, salt and honey until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, stirring together until the ice is melted. If the brine is still above room temperature, add more ice and stir until melted.
Once the brine is at room temperature, pour it into a gallon-sized ziploc bag, then place the roast in the brine. Arrange the bag in the fridge so that it stays upright (I leaned it against a few jars) and so that the meat is fully submerged in the brine, and soak for 5 hours. If you can’t arrange the bag so that the roast is covered the whole time, simply rotate the brine every hour.
After 5 hours, remove the roast from the brine and pat dry. It can be sliced immediately, but for best results we found that putting it back into the fridge in a dry ziploc bag for one more day provided a better flavor.
Tjälknöl can be served warm or cold, but we definitely preferred it cold. It made for a perfect lunch when paired with fresh veggies.