On Holiday Traditions: Carne Guisada, Hoppin’ John, Aebelskiver

Note: This is a recycled post, from a couple of years ago on my Scholarly Texan blog. But the aebelskiver recipe is out-of-this-world, so I thought I’d repost it here for y’all. Merry Christmas!

I kind of love my family’s holiday food traditions. Somehow, we’ve managed to cobble together a series of meals that captures every element of our Texan/Southern/Scottish/Danish/Spanish family history. It starts in early December, when we get two Danish kringles delivered from a mail-order company in Racine, Wisconsin—one from my dad in Columbia, South Carolina, and one from my Great Aunt and Uncle in Atlanta. On Christmas Eve, at H’s house in Georgetown, Texas, we eat carne guisada and tamales: probably my favorite meal of the year. For Christmas dinner, H’s mom roasts an amazing beef tenderloin. On New Years, H and I drink cava, not champagne, and make my grandmother’s recipe for hoppin’ john and collard greens (see picture above).

But for this post I want to give you the recipe for our Christmas morning breakfast, aebelskiver. Aebelskiver are round Danish pancakes, cooked in a special pan that I thought, growing up, no one in the world owned except for my mom.

Until I met H. You see, our fathers are both of Danish extraction, by way of the Midwest, and each of their mothers taught their non-Danish daughters-in-law (our mothers) how to make these delectable treats. The batter recipe is simple:

4 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking soda

The trick is in cooking them thoroughly and evenly. They have to be turned at just the right moment: my Grandma Rosie taught my mom to do it with a knitting needle; H’s mom does just fine with a fork. But you can only learn when to turn them through experience and intuition. It will take a few tries, but when you finally get them right, eat them hot with butter and powdered sugar.

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