The Swedish Delicacy You've Probably Never Heard Of

Chicken nuggets, pizza, mac and cheese...all staples of the average child's diet. Would you believe us though, if we told you that in Sweden kids crave a casserole of chicken, bananas, peanuts, hot sauce, and bacon? It's true. The country that gave us Abba, delicious meatballs, and that famous red fish candy is also credited with the phenomenon known as the "Flygande Jacob," or, translated to English, "Flying Jacob."

Although the origin story of the Flying Jacob is unconfirmed, according the website Lost in a Pot, it is the 1976 brainchild of a man named Ove Jacobsson. Jacobsson worked in the air freight business and often participated in his neighborhood potlucks, which were all the rage in Sweden in the '70s. For one particular get-together, Jacobsson was responsible for the main course. It seems that Jacobsson didn't plan ahead, and, taking an inventory of his kitchen, he found bananas, peanuts, and Heinz Chili Sauce. A survey of the refrigerator revealed leftover chicken from the previous night's dinner, as well as heavy cream and bacon. He is said to have recalled another recipe that included the hot sauce folded into whipped cream, so he began with this, then tossed in the rest of the random ingredients, and baked it.

The odd creation was the hit of the potluck. One of the neighbors in attendance, Anders Tunberg, happened to work at Allt om Mat (All about Food) magazine and helped Jacobsson to get the recipe published.

How to make this unique casserole

Lost in a Pot details the original recipe for us English speakers: It starts with cutting the chicken meat (you can use a grocery store rotisserie), cutting a pound of bacon into bite-sized pieces, and frying it. Next, the bananas are peeled, sliced once crosswise, and once lengthwise. Next, the cream is whipped and a hefty dose of chili sauce is folded in. The casserole is assembled by layering the chicken pieces, then the banana slices on top of the chicken. Then, the cream is spread over the bananas, and the Flying Jacob is baked for 12 minutes. When it's removed from the oven, it's topped with the bacon pieces and peanuts, then served.

The website Mitt Kok explains that, as strange as the combination of ingredients sounds, the Flying Jacob works because it blends the sweetness of bananas with heat from the chili sauce and saltiness from the peanuts and bacon. Their recipe calls for cutting the banana into crosswise slices, skips the whipping of the cream, and simply mixes the heavy cream with the chili sauce and pours it over the casserole ingredients.

So there you have it: The Flying Jacob. Born of a Swedish potluck and easy to make, if you dare.