A pitepalt or palt is a meat-filled dumpling made from raw grated potatoes, barley flour, and/or wheat flour. It is boiled in salted water and served with lingonberries and butter. The palt tradition is particularly strong in northern Sweden. Several varieties of dumplings exist around the Baltic Sea and in southern Sweden, where it is called kroppkaka.
Location: Norrbotten and Västerbotten
The most common variety of pitepalt is a boiled dumpling made from raw potatoes, barley flour, and/or wheat flour, filled with roast pork. If prepared without the meat filling, roast pork is usually served on the side. Lingonberries and butter are common accompaniments. While the palt tradition is found in much of northern Sweden, the name ‘pitepalt’ derives from the city of Piteå. Different varieties of palt or dumplings are found around the Baltic Sea, in the British Isles, and in other parts of the world.
The origins of palt are difficult to trace. Some researchers believe that palt could be a precursor to bread. Filled pierogi also bear similarities to palt, and are usually made in countries along the Baltic Sea and further west. Historically, barley flour was the main ingredient in palt as the grain was hardy and fast-growing, and yielded a large harvest. Wheat flour was a rare ingredient that only became a staple when large-scale production began in southern Sweden and when transport links to the northern parts of the country improved. Potatoes became a staple of Swedish cuisine and a common ingredient in palt during the 18th century. However, it has never fully replaced flour as a palt ingredient.
Piteå has become the Swedish center of palt. In Piteå and parts of northern Sweden, palt is a staple food served in schools, restaurants, and hospitals. Paltakademin, an organization that promotes palt, was founded in Piteå in 1995. An annual palt-eating contest is arranged in the city, where the prize is a year’s supply of palt.
Paltakademin has created a standard recipe for pitepalt:
Pitepalt, serves 4
10–12 raw potatoes (1 kg)
1 tablespoon salt
7 deciliters wheat flour
300 grams pork (raw or salted)
Cut the pork into cubes.
Fill a large pan with water, add salt (1 tablespoon salt per liter) and bring to the boil while making the dough.
Peel and grate the potatoes. Squeeze the grated potatoes to get rid of excess liquid. Mix the grated potatoes with salt and flour into a dough.
With your hands covered in flour, take a ball of dough about the size of a tennis ball. Use two fingers to create a hollow in the dough ball, making space for one tablespoon of pork. Add the pork and close the hole in the dough, rolling it into a ball.