Pytt I Panna, literally “Bits in the Pan”, began as a hash created to use up leftovers.
Other Swedish dishes, such as the meatball of legend, or Janssons Frestelse, may be capable of being scrubbed up and polished to a fine finish, and wheeled out at those 2 high-points of the Swedish culinary year, Midsummer and Christmas, but never Pytt I Panna.
I don’t think Pytt is bothered, though, to be honest. It’s happier doing what it does best, feeding families who want a good, honest, meal during the working week, one that isn’t going to seriously dent the budget.
In these days when so many demand convenience at any price, you’re more than likely to run into this dish as manufactured by a frozen food retailer, and simply re-heated by the cook, especially if you’re sampling it at a lower end eatery, such as a back-street pub or pizza joint, or a typical “Gatukök“, or Swedish street-kitchen.
The better ones, made by the more well known companies, use beef and are known as Oxpytt, and are eatable, at a push. The cheaper ones are OK for filling an empty stomach on a very tight budget, but little else. Some of the ready-made ones can be particularly nasty, mostly potato, what little meat they contain decidedly second rate.
A good, home-made Pytt, however, can be a magnificent meal. We often have it on a Monday, if we have leftover meat from our Sunday lunch to base it around. I decided to cook it here, for example, because I had just under half of a boneless lamb leg joint to use up.
It could have been beef, pork, venison, sausages even, used as the principle ingredient. Because it is meant to use up whatever you have in at the time, the recipe itself is tremendously flexible. There are, however, certain things most people would expect to find in Pytt I Panna.
As well as leftover meat, most would want to see onions and potatoes play a part. This being a Paleo-friendly Pytt, I’m swapping the spuds out for carrots.
Most Swedes would want to see a fried egg on their plate, too. Please see the recipe’s Notes section for other serving suggestions.
Pytt I Panna
- 280 smoked, cubed bacon
- approx. 300g leftover roast leg of lamb
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped into a 5mm dice
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- approx. 150g button mushrooms
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 egg for frying per serving
- Pre-heat the oven to about 100°C. It wants to be just hot enough to keep the Pytt I Panna warm when ready. Place a large, deep oven-proof serving dish in the oven to heat up.
- Cut the leftover lamb into cubes about as large as your little finger nail. Set aside.
- Place the carrots in a medium pan, with enough salted water to cover. Bring up to a boil, drop down to a simmer, and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes or so. Drain and refresh, and then set aside.
- Wipe the button mushrooms clean, and then depending on their size cut them into either 6 or 8 pieces. Set aside.
- Heat up about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick wok over medium heat. Add the bacon, and stir fry until golden brown, about 10 minutes or so. Remove the bacon from the wok, and set aside, leaving as much of any rendered bacon fat as possible in the wok.
- Add the onion to the wok, and stir fry until starting to soften, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the garlic, Herbes de Provence, and smoked Spanish paprika. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the diced lamb and the chopped mushrooms. Stir fry until the lamb is thoroughly re-heated, and the mushrooms have taken on a nice colour as well as cooked down somewhat, 5 minutes or so.
- Return the carrots and bacon to the wok. Stir well, and continue to stir fry until thoroughly re-heated, 2 minutes or thereabouts.
- Season with plenty of black pepper. Transfer to the serving dish in the oven to keep warm, while you fry the eggs.
- Fry the eggs in olive oil to your liking. Transfer to a plate when ready. Serve the Pytt I Panna, with the accompaniment of your choice – see Notes.
Pytt I Panna often comes with pickled sliced beetroot as well as pickled sliced gherkins or cucumber on the side. Many of the commercially available ones are full of sugar, so we avoid them at all costs. On this occasion I served the Pytt with the traditional fried egg and a nice Sauerkraut, made only with cabbage and salt.
Anything with a bit of an acid twang, as well as a crunch should work here, though.
We also forgo the usual tomato ketchup or HP Sauce, in favour of a good old hot sauce made from just chillies, vinegar, and salt.