Swedish Christmas with a very large ham

Some things in life are about compromise and we usually compromise for as long as we want to and it feels ok to do so. In our household we celebrate Christmas on different days and to make everyone happy and Christmas a little bit more festive we have a Swedish Christmas on December 24th and an English Christmas on December 25th.

I always feel that Christmas is always more fun with lots of people so this year I decided to go completely overboard. One of my oldest friends from Sweden, Camilla, arrived with her family and in addition on Christmas eve I invited about twenty more.

Christmas is planned with military precision and my neighbours followed the organisation with a curious interest. Plates and glassed had been bought online and arrived via UPS. Groceries arrived from two different suppliers and there were quite a few trips to top it all up. There is no Christmas in Sweden without a ham and I ordered one from The Black Pig Butchers. It was estimated to be around five kilos and that would be perfect. Early one morning I had a text message from Lizzy the butcher and it turned out that the ham was a bit bigger than expected. It was ten kilos. I could not stop laughing as M always wants big cuts of meat and this time I had really outdone myself!


My friend Camilla with the ham 24Dec_MegaHam


For some reason I am not good at cooking ham so Camilla has to do it and it turns out perfect every time. Even she was laughing when she saw the ham and we started cooking it at midnight and it was done by about 3 pm the following day. I have never seen such a large ham.


Camilla and I go a long way back and we are both headstrong. We both like to cook but whilst I love slow cooking and really taking my time, Camilla wants everything to be super quick. Sometimes so quick it doesn’t even involve cooking, there is nothing wrong with a cheese sandwich right? This makes us squabble every time we cook together and the discussions were quite loud regarding what should, or should not be included for the Swedish Christmas. In the end we compromised and it all worked out beautifully.


Swedish Christmas dinner is a buffet starting with cold dishes and you finish with the warm food, or you just get in there and eat what you like the most.


157 meatballs, a 10 kg ham, Champagne braised pork belly, gin & tonic cured salmon and Janson’s temptation were cooked, brussel sprouts were roasted and accompanied by boiled potatoes, mustard pickled herring, onion pickled herring, beetroot salad, a bulgur wheat salad, a vegan potato bake, sausages, moose salami, hazelnut salami, boiled eggs and boiled eggs with a cured salmon filling. Swedish Christmas isn’t much about vegetables but it is nice to once a year really just go for it.


One of my absolute favourite is Janson’s Temptation. The story is that the not so successful but party loving opera singer Janson loved to entertain. As he was very poor all he had was three humble ingredients, potatoes, anchovy and cream. He used the ingredients to make a dish and it is now known as Janson’s Temptation. Here is my version and I use a special kind of tinned anchovy. This is not a dish for the faint hearted as it is rich in cream but it is the one dish I have never found a substitute that tastes as good.


Janson’s Temptation

preparation time 15 minutes 

cooking time 40 minutes 

oven 175C/350F

serves 4 as a main meal with salad or 15 at a buffet 


  • 1 tin of anchovy
  • 15 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut julienne, quite chunky
  • enough cream to cover the potatoes, about 6 dl or 3 cups
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • cold butter to slice on top
  • pepper

Butter an oven proof dish. Add a layer of potatoes. Pepper and add a few slices of anchovy. Place another layer of potatoes and continue until you run out of anchovy and the last layer should be potatoes.

Mix cream with the anchovy juice and pour over the dish. Sprinkle dried breadcrumbs over and last slices of cold butter and bake until the potatoes are soft and cooked through.


Janson’s Temptation 24Dec_JansonsTemptation


Pickled herring 24Dec_PickledHerring


Moose salami 24Dec_MouseSalami


Hazelnut salami 24Dec_HaselnutSalami


Swedish Christmas ham 

preparation time 5 minutes 

oven 130C/270F and then 170C/340F

cooking time until the ham reached 75C or 167F

serves many


  • Cured ham, gammon (unsmoked)

For the ham crust

  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs

Wrap the ham in tin foil and add a thermometer. We started cooking the ham at midnight and left it at 130C/270F until the morning when we turned the heat up and cooked it until it reached 170C/340F. Once the ham is cooked take it out and leave it to rest. If possible cook the ham the day before, it needs a little time to “settle”.

Once the ham has cooled down cut off the rind and mix the egg yolk with the mustard. Spread it on to the ham and then sprinkle over the mustard mix and place under the grill until it is lightly browned.

The ham was done the same afternoon and it didn’t get a lot of time to rest but it was ready just a little before the guests arrived and we could all have a taste.




It is common to serve ribs and I decided to cook some pork belly instead. I did my favourite recipe with slow cooked, prosecco braised pork belly. I had some champagne so I used that instead and it was delicious. The pork belly is rich so after I had slowly simmered it I sliced it.




Simmered pork belly 24Dec_PorkBelly


I served the pork belly on lettuce leaves.



I was glad that my friend Camilla was there was we could cook the meatballs together, it took quite some time but we finally got there.




Last I made cured salmon eggs.


Cured salmon eggs 

preparation time 5 minutes 

cooking time 10 minutes for the hard boiled eggs

serves 10


  • 10 hard boiled, peeled eggs
  • 3 tbsp chopped salmon
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • chopped dill
  • pepper to taste

Cut the eggs in half and scoop out the egg yolk. Mix the egg with the salmon, mayonnaise and the dill. Taste with pepper and add the mixture to the egg whites.



I did a big batch of chilli roasted brussel sprouts thinking I could re heat some with the turkey but they all went. The chilli gave them a lovely kick and there was nothing boring about them at all.




There was quite a lot of food and luckily most of my guests turned up, as instructed, hungry. I figured there were so many dishes there would be something for everyone.




We ate a lot, drank a lot and had a very Merry Christmas. I love to have a house full of people and I always felt that Christmas spirit is about sharing and being with friends. I wish you a very Happy 2016!





12 Responses to “Swedish Christmas with a very large ham”
  1. Keith Trawick says:

    Well done!!!!!!

  2. Ginger says:

    A cookathon it was – wow! What a fun way to spend a day or two 🙂 I’m particularly curious about the gin and tonic cured salmon, that’s like two of my favourites rolled up into one!
    Happy New Year, Petra!

  3. Everything looks fantastic Petra, I love ham and that whole meal meal looks and sounds incredible. Happy New Year Petra, all the best in the year 2016 to you and yours.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Suzanne Thank you! I love ham too but it might be a while now until next time I eat it!
      I wish you and your family a lovely and very Happy 2016 and am looking forward to your blog posts 🙂

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