Denmark sure has a few things figured out: in addition to their high-ranking national happiness levels, superb new and old architecture, progressive care for the environment, and invention of “hygge” -the word that literally means to embrace being cozy and surrounding oneself with friends and family when the weather is rough, they definitely know how to make some killer sandwiches.
Smørrebrød, or “butter bread”, consists of so much more than its humble (and perhaps impossible to pronounce) name suggests. (By the way, this link may help you with said pronunciation).
The Danes thinly slice a bunch of their legendary rye and top it with any variety of toppings -traditionally an assortment of cured fish and meats, cheese, sliced veggies, herbs, and pickles or capers.
Of course, as the foodie revolution has gained momentum, smørrebrød has become exceedingly more creative. And in a way, that’s the beauty of it. These sandwiches can be as simple or as complex and pretentious as you like them, but ultimately, they’ll be mouth-wateringly delicious.
Plus, providing them at a gathering is both exciting in that it spurs conversation (at least with your fellow foodies), and is likewise incredibly straightforward to procure. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Pick Your Bread
Go for a sturdy rye, dense sourdough, or hearty multi-grain. The idea is that your bread will be robust enough to handle your base and toppings. Nothing is more disappointing than a meek piece of toast sagging under the weight of some dank toppings.
Step 2: Choose Your Base(s)
Remember how we said smørrebrød meant butter and bread? Make sure you slather your bread with a healthy dose of something fatty. Think butter, tahini, ricotta, olive oil, smashed avocado, or cream cheese. Pick your poison.
Step 3: Decide on Your Topping
This step is really up to you. You don’t need to be good at cooking to know what tastes delicious. Plus, you can try different combinations un-apologetically to test which ones are tasty and which ones are not so great. Isn’t college meant to be for “experimenting” anyway?
If you’re stuck, try playing with ingredients that have different attributes. For example, cream cheese + radishes + herbs is a fantastic combo, because each component has a totally dissimilar flavour and texture. Nothing like tangy, creamy, crunchy, peppery, and fresh all piled onto some nutty bread. Dang.
You could also take the charcuterie route and go straight to salty elements. Get your fave cheese, some prosciutto, pickles or capers, and a smear of Dijon. Maybe you want to change it up and have some sweet toppings instead. Go for it. The sky’s the limit.
Step 4: Ask Your Friends to Chip In!
Naturally, hosting most parties is a helluva lot easier if you have some of your best mates around to help. Maybe ask someone to bring an extra loaf of rye or suggest they bring that weird cheese they were gushing about last week. Chances are, your friends will appreciate the food even more if they contribute a bit.
Step 5: Don’t Forget About the Finishing Touches
What will bring your smørrebrød together? A little drizzle of this and a touch of that. That’s right -maybe put some extra little toppings on the table too. That super nice olive oil that’s in the back of the cupboard, freshly ground pepper and flaked salt, chili flakes, honey (try that on top of some ricotta + thinly sliced pears + sourdough), or get your hippie friend to bring their bee pollen. It’ll make all the difference, I promise.