One of the highlights of my Thanksgiving holiday was making lefse with Darren's family. For those of you unfamiliar with exotic Norwegian cuisine, lefse is a delicious flatbread made of potatoes, flour, and salt.
Very basic, but oh so tasty! Call it a Scandinavian tortilla, if you will.
I grew up eating lefse at the holidays, as did Darren. My dad's mother used to send us home-made lefse each year at Christmas. With all due respect to her memory, Darren's mom's lefse is much better. Darren also says his mother's recipe is superior to his grandma's. (I guess that means our generation will improve it still further, but how?)
Making lefse is quite a chore, but with several sets of hands, things move pretty quickly. In Darren's family, two people roll out the dough (the potatoes are boiled and riced the night before) and two people cook the dough on roaring hot lefse griddles. The dough is turned with special turning sticks. Darren's dad has made several of these sticks for members of the family, but they can also be bought in specialty stores.
I've helped make lefse many times, but in all honesty, I'm no good at rolling out the dough. I leave that to the pros. Here's some video of Darren's mom using her deft touch to roll out the dough and turn it with the turning stick.
Once the dough is paper thin, it's transferred with the turning stick to the grill. Next to the rolling, that transfer is the moment of greatest danger. One has to guard against rips, holes, and dough that flops over the side of the grill.
Here's the dough being turned on the grill. That part isn't very hard, because after ten seconds or so, the dough is set and solid to the touch.
This shot shows the lefse when it's finished baking. The brown spots mean it's ready to come off the grill. (When I was a kid, I thought I got moles from eating lefse. I'm pretty sure that was specious reasoning.)
Now here's where my clan diverges from Darren's. In my family, lefse was always considered a sweet treat--we ate it with butter and sugar, rolled up and delectable. There were two schools of thought in our family. Did one eat the lefse with white sugar or brown sugar? I was bi--I could go either way, but my true preference was always for brown sugar.
Darren's family, on the other hand, thinks of lefse as bread. It's served in baskets along with the Thanksgiving meal, and the day after Thanksgiving, everyone eats their leftover turkey wrapped in lefse with cheese. I've grown to accept and even enjoy this perverse culinary aberration, but I have yet to convince anyone in Wisconsin of the true meaning of lefse, which is to be found in brown sugar.
Oh well, there's always next year.