28 August 2009

Flygande Jakob & Murphy-Goode's "The Fumé"

I've invoked the late Hunter S. Thompson a few times on this site, and I'll do it again here. As Raoul Duke he described Dr. Gonzo as "One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

That's kind of how I feel about Flygande Jakob, a bizarre bit of Swedish comfort food that involves mostly non-Swedish ingredients, and is the kind of dish so stupidly easy that it's the one dish incompetent young men will cook for their girlfriends, like similar American guys with spaghetti. (I've hung out with some Swedish dames in my day, and didn't take them for being that easy to impress. I suppose long hours of darkness during the winter lead to desperation...)

Here's a recipe for "Flying Jacob", named after the Swedish air freight employee who is credited with inventing the recipe in the 1970s. For those of you that don't speak Svenska*, this is an unholy mishmash of chicken, cream, bananas, and Heinz Chili Sauce, topped with bacon and peanuts.

If you can wrap your mind around the ingredient list and the visually unpleasant, splotchy, pink sauce created by the cream and Heinz, it's actually pretty tasty. It's definitely odd, and eating chicken with bananas sounds more like a piece of performance art. But the bacon and peanuts add salty, savory flavors, and something about a creamy casserole tends to shut down the more critical parts of your brain. Traditional sides are rice and salad; I did rice and corn, because I had a bag of frozen corn I wanted to cook and was nodding towards Scandinavian frugality.

My fellow diners, Paul and The Roommate, liked it well enough but the consensus was "Don't make this again."

And because I always celebrate the strange over the ordinary, I thought this was the perfect occasion to showcase a wine from Murphy-Goode. When they picked brother man Hardy Wallace as their Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent, I celebrated by going out and purchasing my first-ever Murphy-Goode wine, the 2007 "The Fumé" Sauvignon Blanc, $13, 13.5% abv. Pure Sauvignon Blanc from the North Coast of California. Lovely aroma of lime peel, melon, and grapefruit, with flavors of grapefruit flesh and a lovely finish reminiscent of lemon meringue pie.

It made a great pairing for the dish, but I don't expect to see "Goes well with Flygande Jakob" on the back label of future releases. I will, however, suggest to keep this in mind as a wine that goes well with casseroles and lots of competing flavors, meaning that it could be a great Thanksgiving or Christmas wine.

*Here's an English recipe using metric measurements. But there's nothing complicated about this recipe and the various proportions differ from recipe to recipe. Cook some chicken breasts, chop them up, layer in a dish with banana slices, and pour in a 1:3 mix of chili sauce (or ketchup) and cream. Top with chopped nuts and crumbled bacon, and cook at 350°F until warmed through.


fredric koeppel said...

yer a braver man than I, Sir Benito. that looks and sounds awful.

Benito said...


Once the initial amusement wore off, curiosity took over and for the past couple of months I've been dying to make this.

It helps if you think of it as a sort of simplified Indonesian curry without all the seasoning. In fact, you could spice it up, replace some of the cream with coconut milk, serve it on a banana leaf and charge a fortune for it at a trendy restaurant.


Samantha Dugan said...

Um, yeah...this had me thinking twice about the creepy black chicken.

Benito said...


While definitely unusual, this dish doesn't fall under the "scary" category. I've had people walk out of the house like the time I cooked a bunch of smelt, or frog legs, or any of the delightful organs I've covered recently...

This is the Swedish equivalent of something like turkey tetrazzini, chili mac, or tuna noodle casserole: homemade comfort food that's cheap and filling.


Big Mike said...

The banner looks like an old diner sign to me. I must say the other one is more appealing to me. Sam, I love the creepy black chicken comment. Benito, you kill me eating the things you do. I agree with Fredric you are way braver than Me!!! But I love reading about it......

Benito said...


Thanks for the feedback, playing around with some odds and ends here.

Y'all would all be surprised at the long list of weird recipes I have bookmarked, sitting around the house, or rattling around in my head. I call it my "rainy day file", and whenever I get bored with what I'm cooking or eating, it's time to take a walk on the wild side.


Hanna said...

Hi, I'm swedish and I have to say that this dish isn't made as often as you make it appear. If I can make a recomendation I would suggest that you make it without the bananas, then it's actually really good.