Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tjälknöl - Slow Cooked Roast

This recipe originated in northern Sweden and was traditionally made from Venison meat.  But beef will work just as well.   The roast is cooked from a frozen state at a very low temperature, around 167F.. for about 10 - 12 hour, and then marinated for 4-5 hours.


Remove the roast from the freezer and place on roasting pan.  Place in oven and turn to 80 °C. (175 °F.)

Calculate the cooking time to about 6 ½ hours per pound (for a roast of 1,5 kg it will be about 10 hours).  After approximately 2 hours in oven, insert a meat thermometer.   The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 65-75°C.


Water                     4 cups
Salt                        1/3 cup
Sugar                     1 tbsp
Black Peppercorn   7 ea
Juniper Berries        5 ea
Bay Leaf                 3 leaves

Mix the ingredients for the brine in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Cool.

Add the hot roast to the cooled brine.  Either place in double plastic bags or in a snug fitting container.I marinated roast in wide-mouth water jug, as I couldn't find a suitable container.  Place in fridge for about 4-5 hours.  Any longer and the meat will be too salty.  I took the meat out of the oven when it reached 65°C.. I'd probably leave it a bit longer next time as my family members thought it was too rare.
Slice thinly and serve together with either scalloped potato or potato salad.  I also like a bit or horse radish on the side. 
The history behind the Tjäknöl is that in the early 1980's Ragnhild Nilsson asked her husband to defrost a roast by placing it in the oven on very low heat.  Her husband forgot the meat in the oven overnight and when Ragnhild realized that the roast had been in the oven that long, she attempted to "save" the meat by marinating it in a mixture of salt and spices.  The roast became very tender and tasty.  In 1982, Ragnhild submitted the newly "discovered" recipe to a cooking competition in Sweden and won for best regional dish of Medelpad. (region of Northern Sweden.)
I've seen some variations of the original marinad online.  Here's one I might try next time. 
2 cups water
1/3 cup dark soya
1/3 cup salt (or less)
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed black pepper 
Or, maybe I'll create an Italian marinade with fresh herbs, garlic, balsamic vinegar, red wine, and a bit of olive oil.   

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