Experience a piece of Northern Europe in your home this Christmas with Finnish Carrot Casserole (Porkkanalaatikko). A traditional side dish from Finland that is a staple in every Christmas table. Rice, milk, and carrots — a perfect balance of creamy, sweet, and comfort in every serving!
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I got two Finnish casseroles now on the blog – Cabbage Casserole, and this, Carrot Casserole. No need to tell you that the Finns love their casserole. 🙂
Carrot casserole, though, is slightly more special because it is a traditional Christmas side dish, often served with baked ham.
Creamy rice, with a hint of sweetness coming from the carrots and the syrup — just perfect for the holidays.
Ingredients to prepare
- Rice – short grain or medium grains are the best kind to use because they are creamier. For this recipe, I use arborio rice, the same kind that I normally use for risotto.
- Ginger – fresh, grated ginger is always recommended; but if you’re having a hard time finding it, powdered ginger is a good substitute.
- Syrup – light syrup is preferable, but if you’re using a dark one, keep in mind that it will affect the color of your carrot casserole.
- Nutmeg – optional; that’s why I did not include it in the image above. If you love nutmeg, though, feel free to add it.
Start by combining rice, half a cup of milk, and half a cup of water in a medium saucepan (photo 1).
Set heat to medium-high, cover pan with a lid, and bring to a boil.
Add the remaining milk (photo 2).
Put the lid back on and simmer until the rice has softened (about twenty-five minutes), stirring occasionally.
Take the rice off the heat and set aside to cool.
Using a large mixing bowl, combine and mix cooled rice with milk, syrup, salt and pepper, and ginger (photo 3).
Add grated carrots and egg and mix to combine evenly (photo 4).
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Transfer carrot and rice mixture into an ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs (photo 5).
Add bits of butter on top and use a spoon to create dents on top of the carrot casserole (photo 6).
Place the dish in the oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the top has turned deeper in color.
Set aside for about 10 minutes, then serve.
- Do not forget to stir the rice and milk occasionally while simmering. It helps in checking that nothing sticks at the bottom of the pan.
- Make sure the rice and milk have cooled down before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
- Do not fill the ovenproof dish to the rim. Leave some space on the top because the casserole will ‘puff up’ once cooked.
WHAT CAN I SUBSTITUTE FOR SYRUP?
You can use honey or molasses. I even know some friends who prefer to use brown sugar.
When you are using sugar, you have to make sure that it has dissolved. The best way to do this is to mix it with the milk and rice; then, you add them with the carrots.
CAN I PRECOOK THE CARROTS?
Some people do. They boil the carrots first, then mash them before mixing them with the rice and milk. You can try doing it this way if you prefer.
I prefer to grate them finely to keep some texture in the carrots. I’ve never had problems with carrot casserole being raw when I prepare them this way.
So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try and let me know what you think! 🙂
Finnish Carrot Casserole
- 1/2 cup short-grain or medium-grain rice
- 1 & 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 kg carrots, peeled and finely grated
- 2 tbsp light syrup
- 1/2 tsp ginger, fresh and grated
- 1 large egg
- 6 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- salt and ground white pepper, to season
- Using a medium-sized saucepan, combine rice with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of milk.
- Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Add the remaining 1 cup of milk, cover, and simmer until the rice turns soft (stir occasionally). It normally takes about 25 minutes.
- Take the rice off the heat and set aside to cool.
Assembling Christmas casserole:
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Using a large mixing bowl, combine rice with milk, syrup, salt and pepper, and ginger. Mix.
- Add carrots and beaten egg. Mix evenly.
- Transfer casserole mixture into an ovenproof baking dish, leaving some room on top.
- Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs.
- Add butter and use a spoon to make indentations (or decorations) on top.
Baking creamy carrot casserole:
- Place the dish in the middle of the oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the top turned darker in color.
- Take the casserole out of the oven and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Short-grain or medium-grained rice is the best type to use for this recipe. I generally use arborio rice when I make this Christmas casserole at home.
- You can use powdered ginger if you don’t have the fresh ones.
- If you don’t have light syrup, molasses, honey, dark syrup, or brown sugar are good alternatives.However, if you are using brown sugar, you have to mix them with the milk mixture to ensure they had dissolved when you add the carrots.
- Do not forget to mix the rice occasionally when you’re simmering it with the milk. It helps the rice from sticking at the bottom of the pan.
- Make sure the rice and milk mixture is completely cooled before adding the rest of the ingredients.