Långkål (skimmed kale) is a favorite dish in Sweden that is served as a side dish to julskinka (Christmas ham). It is so important that no julbord (Christmas table) is complete without it. I think långkål is absolutely delicious and should not be limited to Christmas as it goes well with pork, smoked meats and good sausages.
How to make Långkål:
- Pluck the kale leaves to remove any coarse stems.
- Add the leaves to a large pot of boiling salted water and bring back to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches unless you have a very large pan.
- Drain well in a large colander and press down well with a spoon to squeeze the water out of the kale leaves.
- Return the kale to a pan and pour the cooking liquid from the ham over the kale so that it is just covered.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Drain the kale again and squeeze out as much stock as possible. If you prepare the kale ahead of time, when it is cold, transfer it to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
- Roughly chop the kale.
- Melt the butter in a pan, add the kale and fry gently for a few minutes.
- Add the cream and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt and white pepper to taste.
- Add crushed mace and sugar if desired.
- Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Eat the långkål while it is piping hot.
- Ideally, långkål should be made with the cooking liquid from the ham, but it can also be made with just water or ham stock made with a stock cube.
- Don’t be tempted to replace the cream with milk and flour, because it really doesn’t taste that great, even if it might be a tad healthier.
- Some Swedes like to add a tablespoon or two of sugar and a dash of mace. After the kale has simmered in the cream for about 5 minutes, taste and add some sugar and mace if you think it would enhance the dish. Personally, I prefer it without.