Food + Recipes

Contemporary Classics: Cooking for the Holidays in Denmark - Featuring Gløgg

By Helen Russell

“Christmas is all about tradition for Danes,” says Bo Frederiksen, the former Noma chef who now teaches New Nordic cuisine at Claus Meyer’s famous cooking school, Meyer’s Madhus in Copenhagen’s artsy, ecclectic Nørrebro district. The school, which opened in 1999, offers courses as well as one on one classes in English (on request) for all ages and also runs legendary teambuilding events.

“People won’t accept too much change when it comes to their food at this time of year,” says Bo, “so we try to subtly tweak and update the classics using fresh, seasonal produce to enhance the great Danish flavors.”

Here are Bo’s top picks for adding a touch of the New Nordic to your holidays this year – wherever you are.

Fancy some one-on-one training? Get in touch with the school to find out more at or at +45 22 58 02 14

White Gløgg with Fruit Brandy and Pear

“Gløgg is a must for Christmas in Denmark and it’s traditionally made with red wine and chopped almonds,” says Bo. “We like to do a white version as a lighter alternative - and I always throw in a handful of hazelnuts at the end.”

Makes 6-8 glasses

What you need:
5 cups good quality cold-pressed apple juice
3 cups water
2 cups concentrated elderflower cordial
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp. cane sugar
1 star anise
3 whole black peppercorns
1 cardamom pod
1 slice of ginger (approximately ½ cm thick)

1 pear
½-1 cup pear or apple brandy
30 g of light raisins

Handful of crushed hazelnuts (Bo’s special ingredient)

How to:
Throw all the ingredients apart from the pear and the raisins into a saucepan and simmer.

Take the pan off the heat and let the mixture rest for an hour for the flavors to infuse.

Strain, then gently warm up the gløgg again, adding extra lemon juice, ginger and brandy to taste.

Cut the pear into cubes and scatter it into glasses along with the raisins (and the crushed hazelnuts, if you’re using them).

Pour the hot mulled wine on top and enjoy!


Fried Beetroot Herring

“Julefrokost is the Danish Christmas lunch where hot and cold food is all laid out on the table for people to help themselves,” explains Bo. “You have to serve herring at julefrokost – but we add a little beetroot to give an extra flavor.”

Serves 5

What you need:

10 herring fillets
Wasabi or 20-30 g freshly grated horseradish

50 g rye flour 
3 cups stock vinegar

3 cups water 
3 cups sugar 
2 beetroot 
2 apples

1 tbsp. rapeseed oil

10 g butter

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 

How to:
Dot the inside of the herring with a little wasabi or sprinkle with horseradish. Season with salt and pepper, then coat in rye flour.

Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. 
Peel and cube the beetroot, then core the apples and cut into thin wedges. These will cook at different rates, so make sure the apple wedges are a bit bigger than the beetroot chunks. Add to the hot syrup and boil for 2 minutes.

Heat another pan then add the oil and butter. Fry the herring fillets until golden and crisp - about 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the herring to a bowl and cover with hot syrup. Leave to marinate in the fridge for two days (or up to a week for extra flavour). Serve on rye bread with capers and dill. 


Braised Pork in Milk, Garlic and Rosemary

“Pork is like our national dish in Denmark,” says Bo, “and roasted pig for Christmas dinner – served on the 24th of December – is a staple. But you can do interesting things with a joint to make it taste even better.” Bo recommends a slow cooked collar joint simmered in a seasoned milk sauce.

Serves 4

What you need:

1 kg collar of pork

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 whole garlic

½-1 lemon (depending on taste)

3 sprigs rosemary

5 bay leaves

10 whole black peppercorns

11/2 liters of whole milk

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


How to:
Brown the joint a saucepan with the oil until coloured on all sides, then season and add the cloves of a whole head of garlic. Cut the lemon into quarters and add to the mix, along with the rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and peppercorns.

Let the mixture brown lightly before adding milk.

Turn down the heat when the milk starts to boil and let the pork simmer for between 1 ½ to 2 hours with the lid half on, turning occasionally, until the milk becomes a lightly browned gravy.

When the joint is done, remove from pot, carve into slices and serve with mashed potatoes and meat juices, flavored with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper.

All the recipes (and many more) can be found in Claus Meyer’s Almanak and Meyers Madhus run cookery courses from DKK 1000.

Helen Russell, is a journalist and author of The Year of Living Danishly published by Icon Books, January 2014