Berry, Berry Good

Chef Katee McClean
Chef Katee McClean

The tart flavor of lingonberry jam brings a touch of Scandinavia to yummy potato pancakes

Lining the walls of Katee McLean’s new Kansas City restaurant, Krokstrom Klubb & Market, are sepia-toned photographs of her family who emigrated from Dalsland in southern Sweden in 1863. They finally settled in Elsmore, Kansas. McLean’s great-grandfather had a meat market. The great-aunts kept traditional family recipes alive.

And now McLean, along with restaurant partner Josh Rogers, celebrates that heritage in dishes that run the gamut from pickled herring to raggmunk, or potato pancake, that is Swedish comfort food, perfect for winter. Made with leftover mashed potatoes, it provides the crispy layer to a one-dish meal that also includes an over-easy egg, bacon or pork belly, and a judicious dollop of red fruit jam.

“When I researched Scandinavian food, I was surprised by the fresh and bright flavors,” says McLean. “I already knew that our family loved sour—you only have to look at the pickle shelf in my refrigerator.” In winter, that fresh, bright, and slightly sour flavor profile comes through in lingonberries, tiny dark red berries that taste somewhat like cranberries and are part of the preserved food tradition in Scandinavia.

Lingonberries grow wild in northern Europe and are cultivated in the northern U.S. and Canada, ripening in late summer. McLean gets hers from a top-secret place. “It took five years to source them,” she says. She makes her own accompaniments from these berries, but the rest of us can find lingonberry jam at better grocery stores, Ikea or World Market. “And I’ve seen Felix brand frozen lingonberries at the SunFresh in Midtown,” she says.

“This potato pancake is the basis for a quick and simple dinner or a brunch. And the bright hit of lingonberry ties all the flavors together,” she says.

Raggmunk: Swedish Potato Pancakes with Pork Belly and Lingonberry Jam

mk_krockstrum-klubb010jr_1216_1-2Serves 4

4    cups leftover mashed potatoes, cold

½    cup instant potato flakes, or more as necessary

Butter for frying

½    lb. pork belly (or bacon) sliced thinly

4    large eggs

4    tablespoons lingonberry jam

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and place a baking sheet on the oven rack. In a large bowl, mash the leftover mashed potatoes with your hand until soft enough to fold in the potato flakes. (If potatoes are still very moist add ¼ cup more potato flakes until the mixture just holds together.) Take 1 cup of the potato mixture and roll into a ball. Place the ball between two sheets of parchment paper and flatten between two plates to a ¼ inch in thickness. Repeat 3 more times. In a large skillet over medium heat add 1 teaspoon butter. Add the potato pancakes one at a time, adding more butter as necessary. Cook slowly, turning once, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer each pancake to a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. When all the potato pancakes are warming, fry the pork belly or bacon in a skillet until crisp on both sides. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Crack each egg into the skillet and cook sunny-side up to your preference for doneness. To serve, place a pancake in the bottom of a shallow pasta bowl, top with an egg, bacon, and a spoonful of lingonberry preserves.