Editor’s note: This reader recipe is an online addition to our November 2020 cover story, “Taste and see.”
By Ellen Hesselberg
Our women’s Pricillia Circle at Holmen Lutheran Church in Holmen, Wisc., has a long tradition of making and enjoying eating lefse. Whenever we prepare it, it sells out quickly at our bazaars, cookie walks and Norwegian meatball dinners.
Make sure you come early before it’s gone—that’s the word that gets out into the community!
Those of us who are not of Norwegian descent have enjoyed being taught by members of our congregation, who have been more than happy to walk us through the process.
If you are really lucky, a relative has gifted you with the essential tools needed for making lefse. You need a grill, a board covered with a pastry cloth, a wooden rolling pin, a wooden lefse stick and cotton cloths.
Of course, there are many different recipes for lefse. The majority of connoisseurs of this Norwegian delight prefer it thinner. Lefse is similar to a soft tortilla. After buttering it, some sprinkle on brown sugar. Others fill it with available meat before rolling and eating.
Traditionally, lefse is made in the fall. It’s also served at Thanksgiving and during the Christmas season. It’s often combined with lutefisk, meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, rutabagas and coleslaw.
4 cups of riced potatoes (cooled to room temperature)
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of melted butter
Additional flour, for rolling
Muslin cloths or towels, plastic cloth
Recipe from Leif and Carol Marking, and Ron and Vivian Sacia; used with permission.
- Boil firm russet potatoes in their skins, just until the fork test tells you they are done. Drain well. Immediately rice through a cone-shaped food colander. Most of the skins remain in the colander. Cool to room temperature, covering with a paper towel.
- To make the dough, add butter and salt to the riced potatoes; knead in the flour. Form into a loaf; cut into 12 equal pieces. Put flour on the pastry cloth and rolling pin (use a sleeve on the pin to prevent sticking and too much flour). Before rolling, plug in the grill and set at 450 to 500 degrees; adjust as needed. Roll lefse as thin as you can (approximately 14 inches in diameter). Flip the edge over the lefse stick.
- Roll the stick toward the center of the lefse. This wraps the round around the stick. When the stick is near the center, pick up the lefse and put it on the hot grill by placing the dangling end on one side of the grill and unwrapping the lefse toward the other.
- Don’t grill side one too long. Give it just a light singe (35 to 45 seconds), which causes bubbles to rise. Then flip the round while it still has most of its moisture for side two.
- Grill side two until the spots are the color you want. If needed, you can flip the round and touch up side one. Cooling and curing are important steps. Remove the lefse from the grill and put it on a muslin cloth or towel to cool. Cover with another cloth and a plastic cloth on top of that. Fold lefse rounds in half and overlap in a staggered stack. Keep well covered; cool for three to four hours. Eat fresh or wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and put in freezer bags.
Note: There isn’t a right way to make lefse, except a way that works for you. Through experimenting, this is what works for us. The only wrong way is the way that doesn’t work–uff da! That means there’s lots of leeway in making potato lefse. Start rolling and grilling and making mistakes. If the whole process doesn’t remain fun and satisfying, then try making lefse with others. Pass on the tradition. Happy lefse making!