Save a lamb; try Bergen Easter chicken

Other dishes are more traditional for påske, but this uniquely Nordic chicken will satisfy

Bergen Easter chicken in a pot

Photo: Daytona Strong
Gjetost gives this sauce its beautiful color and distinctly Norwegian flavor.

Daytona Strong
Norwegian American Weekly

When I grew up, Easter traditions had more to do with a church service and an Easter egg hunt than any particular type of food. I suppose that brunch was typical—along with the blueberry coffee cake that accompanied the meal at one restaurant we would frequent—but that was about as specific as it would get. Christmas was the holiday synonymous with food; roast pork and medisterkaker, riskrem and—well, you get the idea. But for Easter, it was primarily about family.

Many Norwegian families enjoy a traditional meal of lamb for this holiday. Though as an adult I’ve come to associate lamb with an Easter meal, I’m open to other ideas as well. I recently came across a recipe for “Bergen Easter Chicken” in Scandinavian Cooking by Beatrice Ojakangas. The author—a longtime authority on Nordic food in America—browns a chicken in butter, then simmers it in a flavorful broth with sherry or lemon juice. Once the chicken is cooked through, she makes an easy but rich sauce of cream, parsley, and shredded gjetost. I put the recipe to the test recently and was pleased to discover a dish that tastes distinctly Norwegian with the creamy and sweet flavor of goat cheese.

Feel free to substitute chicken thighs, if you wish. Just be sure to note that the boneless and skinless variety will dramatically reduce the cooking time.

Bergen Easter Chicken (Stekt Påske Kylling)

1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
(3 pounds)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsps butter
1 cup chicken broth or water
¼ cup sherry or 2 tbsps lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup whipping cream
1 cup shredded gjetost or aged Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Remove skin from chicken; rub meat with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; brown on all sides. Pour broth or water over browned chicken. Add sherry or lemon juice. Cover; reduce heat to low. Simmer 35 to 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Use a slotted spoon to place cooked chicken on a platter; keep warm. Add ¼ cup chopped parsley and cream to drippings in pan. Stirring constantly, bring to a simmer. Cook and stir until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup and has a glazed appearance. Stir in cheese only until melted. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with fresh parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from Scandinavian Cooking by Beatrice Ojakangas. This recipe is reproduced with permission from the University of Minnesota Press:

This article originally appeared in the April 3, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.