MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The meat counter at Ingebretsen’s on Lake Street is already swarming with hungry Scandinavians, planning their festive feasts.

The popular Scandinavian market and gift shop is an annual stop for many this time of year who can’t think of a Christmas dinner without their native dishes — odd sounding delicacies like “lutefisk” and “pinnekjott.”

What’s pinnekjott?

“It’s mutton that they’ve salted and dried,” said Ingebretsen’s head butcher, Steve Dahl.

For longtime customers like Ola Andersson, who lives in Fargo, it’s important to keep their cultural traditions alive.

Andersson says he’s serving up “pickled herring, lutefisk and ham.”

Dahl says Ingebretsen’s customers “like doing their heritage, for sure.”

And heritage is a big part of Christmas. Germans have their sausage. The English prefer geese and ducks. But when most Minnesota families gather around the table in two weeks, chances are that turkey won’t be on the menu.

It doesn’t crack the top two in our Christmas dinner choices.

That distinction is reserved for other main dishes, namely pork and beef.

Mary Jo Neuman is director of Cub Foods’ Fresh line of products and she says ham is the most popular tradition and that rib roast is gaining in popularity.

While hams, rib roast, pork crown roast and turkey are the most favored Christmas dinners of choice, according to Neuman, Minnesotans’ tastes are changing – much like our cultural makeup.

“I know a handful of families, people who do fish tacos as far as a tradition,” Neuman said.

Pastas, shrimp and crab legs round out the most popular Christmas dishes.

Meantime, back at Ingebretsen’s, Dahl is bringing out another Christmas dinner choice.

“This is yule shenke, it’s Swedish sweet pickle ham – they boil that for four hours,” Dahl explains.

Peggy Franson was in line, waiting for something a little less daring.

“I’m serving Swedish meatballs, red cabbage and cheesy potatoes, for a little American in there,” she said.


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