The temperature is dropping—it is November, after all—snow is heading our way and blustery winds are rearranging the neat piles of leaves our neighbors raked and blew into the street for pick-up. It’s mojakka time!
Mojakka (say MOY-ah-kah) is our Finnglish (Finnish-English) word for beef stew. It’s such a tradition in the Upper Great Lakes region there are Mojakka Cook-Offs and even a website dedicated to the dish.
There are variations of mojakka using fish, pork and venison, but the basic combination of beef, carrots, potatoes and onions is the only one I’ve made. The addition of allspice gives it a special flavor. Add some good dark bread (try dunking it in the broth) and you’ve got a meal.
Mojakka always tastes better a day or even two days later, so plan ahead and you’ll have a nice hot pot of tasty stew to warm you up after raking those leaves (again).
1 pound stewing beef, cut into chunks
1 T oil or butter
2 tsp coarse salt
4 C boiling water (I use 2 C water, 2 C beef broth)
5 whole allspice
1 or 2 onions, chopped
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
rutabaga cut into chunks, amount to your preference
additional salt and fresh ground pepper (optional) to taste
Brown the beef, turning only as needed until all sides are rich brown. Add salt, boiling water, and allspice, and simmer on low at least an hour until the meat is tender (more meat, longer simmer). Keep the lid on part way so the broth doesn’t boil away.
Add the onions, carrots and potatoes and cook on low heat for another hour, or until the beef is very tender. Add salt, pepper, and more water or beef broth if needed. Serves 4.
Best served the second day. Allow cooked stew to cool and refrigerate overnight. Reheat slowly.