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Often described as a hodgepodge of food, a pyttipanna is a classic dish of the Nordic countries of Sweden and Norway consisting of fried potatoes, meat, and caramelized onions. The dish can also be found under various other names. In Denmark, it is known as biksemad, while in Finland it is called pyttipannu. Sometimes the dish may be listed as pytt i panna or pytt y panna or simply abbreviated to pytt.
A pyttipanna has similarities to a number of other hearty dishes fried in the pan in other parts of the world. One example is corned beef hash, a dish found in the United States, which is a pan-fried mixture of onions and diced potatoes with corned beef. It has also been compared to bubble and squeak, a traditional English dish made of leftover vegetables such as potatoes and cabbage sauteed together in a pan.
Traditionally, a pyttipanna is made from the leftovers of other meals. Therefore, the type of meat added to the dish can vary based on what leftovers are in a household. A leftover pot roast, veal, or Christmas ham could be used, as can steak, pork, and bacon.
To make pyttipanna, the ingredients are generally fried in oil or butter in a skillet. Finely chopped onions are cooked until browned and then removed from the hot skillet and replaced with diced potatoes, which are also cooked until golden. These potatoes may be precooked, but raw potatoes might also be used. After removing the potatoes from the pan, leftover meat is sliced and tossed into the pan until the meat is warmed through. Then the potatoes and onions are stirred back into the meat mixture, and the dish is allowed to continue cooking until browned and crisped.
Instead of making the pyttipanna from leftovers, however, it is also becoming commonplace to make the dish out of fresh premium meats. If making from raw meat, the meat may need to cook first and will likely need to saute for a longer length of time to become tender. In addition to the basic ingredients, mixed herbs, a clove of garlic, or leftover vegetables are also included in some recipe variations.
The pyttipanna is usually served with a raw egg yolk on top. Alternatively, a fried egg may be used to top off the dish. In fact, a second frying pan is usually used as the pyttipanna is in the final moments of cooking to prepare a sunny-side up egg or some other fried variety. Pickled red beets, capers, and sliced pickles are also commonly served on the side.
Today, pyttipanna is still made at home, but ready-made versions can also be found in the frozen food section of supermarkets in Sweden and other Nordic countries where the dish is popular. Vegan and vegetarian varieties are also cropping up that replace the meat used in the dish with mixed vegetables for a still hearty dish that is lighter in calories and fat.