A burning love (for mashed potatoes & bacon)

Comfort food at its finest, Brennende kjærlighet is a fitting dish for Valentine’s Day

Photo: Sara Johannessen / MatPrat
Brennende kjærlighet, “Burning Love,” is a traditional dish that is sure to please your loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor

Over the last few years, I’ve realized that Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, because I just love love, in all its forms. It’s something to look forward to during the dreary winter months, and an excellent reason to share love with our family, friends, and neighbors through homemade cards and various forms of sweets.

Valentine’s Day dinner at my house typically revolves around a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s, but this year, I’m serving Brennende kjærlighet.

Brennende kjærlighet is a traditional dish that came to Norway by way of Denmark. The name translates directly to English as “Burning Love,” which—let’s be honest—should be reason enough to try it.

Brennende kjærlighet is creamy mashed potatoes topped with bacon and mushrooms, and garnished with a handful of green onions or chopped parsley. The Danes serve it with pickled beets on the side, which is as a welcome counterpoint to the rather alarming amount of bacon and dairy products involved.

I found many variations on the dish, (including a tomato-meat sauce topped with mashed potatoes), but the common theme: Brennende kjærlighet is cozy, kid-friendly, and comfort food at its finest.

Brennende kjærlighet is simple enough to prepare for a weeknight supper but rich enough to feel luxurious for a special meal at home with loved ones.

The name’s origin is mysterious, though. I searched every Norwegian food blog I knew and my stack of Scandinavian cookbooks, and fumbled my way through Danish websites. Thanks to some sleuthing by our editor-in-chief, I learned through the Danish blog Miha.dk that the dish has its roots in the 19th century, where it was called potato porridge or Munter mashed potatoes. Old cookbooks from the late 1800s to early 1900s say that a housewife could not give more happiness or love to her husband than good and nutritious food, so preparing “Burning Love” was the wife’s declaration of love for her husband. The name “Burning Love” probably originated around World War II, when potatoes were often used instead of meat—and it’s been a popular dish ever since.

Brennende kjærlighet is simple enough to prepare for a weeknight supper but rich enough to feel luxurious for a special meal at home with loved ones.

Happy cooking, and may you find love all around you this Valentine’s Day!

Brennende kjærlighet (Burning Love) 
By Christy Olsen Field Serves 4, with possible leftovers

3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
salt (kosher)
1⁄2 cup butter, melted
1⁄2 cup cream
12 oz. bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, thinly sliced
12 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
pickled beets to garnish, if desired

This is the way I make mashed potatoes, so feel free to use your own technique instead of mine.

Wash potatoes and peel potatoes, and cut into quarters. Put potatoes in a 5-qt. pot and fill with cold water and a palmful of kosher salt. Bring to a boil on the stove, and reduce to simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain. Add in melted butter and cream, and mash potatoes with your favorite masher. For a smoother texture, you can use a ricer or a food mill. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed. Use an electric hand mixer to whip the potatoes to creamy deliciousness.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping while the potatoes cook. In a large saucepan, fry the chopped bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Depending on how much bacon grease rendered out, you can pour off some of it into a small jar if you don’t want to cook with that much fat. Sauté the sliced onions in the bacon fat until golden. After a minute or so, add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté the mushroom-onion mixture until the mushrooms release their liquid. Season with salt, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms take on some color.

To serve, dollop a good amount of mashed potatoes on the plate. Layer on the mushroom-onion mixture, sprinkle generously with bacon, and garnish with chopped green onion. Serve with love and pickled beets. Makes excellent leftovers!

Brennende kjærlighet for veganer (Burning Love for vegans) 
Adapted from kathiklaudel.wordpress.com

3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
salt (kosher)
1⁄2 – 3⁄4 cup dairy-free milk
3 large onions, thinly sliced
12 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8-oz. package smoked tofu, thinly sliced
handful of chopped green onions or parsley pickled beets, if desired

In a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and a palmful of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain, and add dairy-free milk. Mash and taste for seasoning.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Sauté sliced onions in olive oil until golden brown, then add smoked tofu and mushrooms. Continue to sauté until the onions are deeply caramelized, and the mushrooms and tofu are taking on some color.

To serve, dollop a good amount of mashed potatoes on the plate. Layer on the mushroom-tofu mixture, and garnish with chopped green onions or parsley. Serve with love and pickled beets, if desired.

 

This article originally appeared in the February 7, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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