In late 2009, I emigrated from East Coast Canada to Northern Denmark to live with my Danish husband. That meant uprooting my whole life, and adapting to a new language, environment, and food culture.
In Denmark, the birthdays follow a usual template: rolls, hot chocolate with whipped cream, and layer cake with lots of cream and jam. Dinner, if offered, is "Suppe, steg og is", or "Soup, roast, and ice cream". With so many family members on my husband's side, it can get rather repetitive. Since our birthdays are only two weeks apart, my husband and I always celebrate together, and we decided to fight against tradition and follow a theme every year to spice things up a bit. The decorations, food, and even my husband's clothing all go by the theme. We have a ton of fun, even if it's loads of work.
We've done Mexican, American and Italian, but last year's theme was Alice in Wonderland. The dish pictured above is our main course. It's actually based on a Danish classic: Forloren hare (Mock Hare). It's basically a meatloaf wrapped in bacon with gravy and potatoes.
I know, I know, Alice in Wonderland has "The Mock Turtle", but we figured that hares were still in the scheme of things. Close enough!
What is it?
The meatball is ground pork flavoured with salt, pepper, carrots, parsley, red current jelly and onion wrapped in parma ham and baked in the oven. I laid out overlaying strips of ham on saran wrap on a cutting board, and placed a ball of meat in the middle. I lifted the corners of the plastic to wrap the ball in ham, and twisted it tight. I then placed it in the fridge to firm up until ready to cook.
Under the meatball is a bed of garlic mash. Simply toss some crushed garlic into your hot potatoes before mashing as usual.
There are also pieces of charred yellow onion. Take onions and cut them in half. Grill flat side down until black. Separate the layers, peeling the thin membrane away between the layers (it's not so nice to eat).
The sauce is made from pork stock and the drippings from the cooked meatballs. It's flavoured slightly with red currant jelly, and there are tiny dots of jelly on the plate.
Finally, the carrot has been pickled overnight in a brine made of white wine vinegar, orange juice, sugar, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
It was sprinkled with chopped parsley.
This was a dish, where a lot of the components could be prepared ahead of time and cooked when ready.
Mmmmm I really need to make this one again sometime soon.