Scandinavian Winter Stew: Labskovs

This recipe from the Scandinavian Comfort Food cookbook is 100 years old, and originally it was made with leftovers.
December 09, 2016


Cut the steak into 2-cm / ¾-in cubes. Heat 1 Tbsp of the butter in a large saucepan, add the steak and brown lightly, then add the water and bring gradually to a boil, skimming off any froth from the surface.

Add the onions, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, cloves, peppercorns, and salt and let it simmer for 1 hour.

While it is simmering, peel the potatoes and cut into 2-cm / ¾-in cubes. Add to the meat and let it simmer for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and falls apart easily.

Drain off any excess water then stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Use a balloon whisk to mix the potatoes and meat together into a mash, with the stew remaining lumpy.

Serve sprinkled with chopped chives, with the pickled beetroot and slices of rye bread alongside it.

About this recipe

“Here is a classic Scandinavian comfort food dish, and probably my favourite: a mash cooked with meat and flavourings, served with chives and pickled beetroot. I always cook enough for two days, because it is even better the second day. This recipe is 100 years old and originally it was made with leftovers. Later, after the Second World War, it became popular in restaurants in Copenhagen, especially in the restaurant in Tivoli Gardens.” -- Trine Hahnemann, author of Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge

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For the stew
  • 1kg / 2 lb 3oz chuck steak
  • 50g / 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1.2 litres / 5 cups water
  • 250g / 9oz onions, chopped
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 2.5kg / 5½ lb floury potatoes
For Serving
  • 6 Tbsp chopped chives
  • Pickled beetroot
  • Slices of rye bread
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