Fårikål (Norwegian Lamb and Cabbage Stew)

For those of you following my recently updated approach to recipe development, you’ve probably already guessed that the recipes in my new cookbook will cover a variety of traditional and international dishes. So far we’ve highlighted cuisine from France, the Caribbean, and the American South. Today we’ll be exploring Scandinavia, with this Norwegian Lamb and Cabbage Stew.

Originally from Western Norway (Vestlandet), Fårikål has become a widely-loved autumn staple, to the point where it was named Norway’s national dish in 1972. Scandalously, in 2014 the Norwegian Minister for Food & Agriculture demanded a new national dish be voted on–via email, no less! Fårikål won by a landslide, grabbing 45% of the vote and easily beating out Kjøttkaker (meatballs) and Raspeball (potato dumplings) for the top spot.

The traditional preparation of this dish couldn’t be simpler: layer some lamb, salt, and cabbage in a pot, then add water, potatoes, and peppercorns and simmer until everything is tender. I made a couple tweaks to complement the dish, such as dropping in the potatoes later in the process (so they don’t lose their body), and broiling the meat at the end for a nicer texture. In the end, this is still one of the most basic stews you’ll find anywhere, but Fårikål carries with it a rich flavor you may not expect from such a simple preparation.

Fårikål - Norwegian Lamb and Cabbage Stew (Gluten-free, Primal, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet, Whole30)

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

3 to 4 lbs bone-in lamb shoulder or neck
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 small (2-3 lbs) head green cabbage, cut into 3” wedges
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 cups beef stock
2 lbs new potatoes (or other small, waxy potatoes)

1. Layer the bottom of a stockpot or dutch oven with lamb pieces, then sprinkle with a little of the salt. Add a layer of cabbage, then another layer of lamb and salt, and so on. Add the peppercorns and broth, then enough water to just cover everything. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer until the lamb pulls away easily from the bone, about 2 hours. Add the potatoes during the last 30 minutes of simmering.

2. Preheat your oven on the broil setting. Carefully remove the lamb pieces from the stockpot and place on a baking sheet. Broil the lamb in the oven until darkened and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Return the lamb to the pot, season the stew with salt to taste, and serve.

8 thoughts on “Fårikål (Norwegian Lamb and Cabbage Stew)

  1. Sounds so Delicious Russ. I have some Venison Shoulder chops on hand so going to try this recipe with them. No disrespect to your lovely self or the people of Norway.

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    1. You could definitely use them, but they will be a bit more finicky than regular potatoes – I would add them about 15 minutes before the stew is ready to eat, and then serve them right as they become fork-tender (so that they don’t fall apart).

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