As a nation, lamb is our favourite meat. Not unsurprising as it is no secret that sheep farming is important to Icelanders. The Norwegian settlers brought sheep with them from their home country. Due to Iceland’s isolation, the sheep you see today is nearly identical to those brought over 1000 years ago.
There are generally more sheep in Iceland than people, and in 1980 there were almost 830,000 sheep in the country. It has been steadily decreasing since then, and in 2020, there were only 416,000 sheep. Still more than people, but only half of what the stock was 40 years ago.
Every holiday in Iceland, which includes food traditions, has a lamb dish. Hangikjöt (hung meat) is very popular at Christmas. During þorri and þorrablót, you can find dishes which utilise just about everything of the sheep. Everything from sour ram testicles to singed sheep heads. At Easter, we eat leg of lamb, and on Shrove Tuesday (called explosion day in Iceland), we eat yellow split peas soup with salted lamb meat. Then there’s one of Iceland’s most popular soups: kjötsúpa (lamb soup). It is so popular that the first day of winter is usually dedicated to it, with a Kjötsúpu festival held on Skólavörðustígur in downtown Reykjavik.
This recipe is for those who aren’t for sour, salted or smoked meat – or even those who are and just want to try something else.
This recipe can be used for a lamb fillet, a shoulder, or any portioned piece of lamb in that category. This is for about four people.
- Four pieces of lamb (filet, shoulder, whatever you got)
Heat your oven to 180 degrees. Take the pieces of lamb, wash them and dry them gently with paper towels. Pat them with oil, such as olive oil or any other you have. Spice them with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. If you do not have some of these spices, just skip or add whatever you feel like. Fry them on both sides for a few minutes and place them on a baking tray. Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes, depending on the size.
Baked root vegetable:
- One turnip
- 5-6 potatoes (reasonably big)
- Four carrots (reasonably big)
Peel and cut the vegetable into reasonably small pieces and mix them with oil, salt, pepper, and parsley in a baking tray. Put them in the oven at the same time as the lamb and let them cook for about the same time, around 20 minutes, or until you see them getting browned.
- Cully flower, a quarter of a big head
- Broccoli, a quarter of a big head
- A quarter of a leek
- Tablespoon butter or oil
Cut the vegetable into fairly small pieces. Here I use the same frying pan as I used to fry the meat without cleaning it in between. This way, you get more taste for the vegetable. Melt some butter in the pan (or heat the oil). Fry the vegetable for about ten minutes on medium heat or until it’s soft. You can also put a lid on the pan for a little while to cook them through.
Creamy mushroom sauce
- Two garlic cloves
- 5-6 mushrooms
- Tablespoon of butter
- 200ml water
- Half a dice of chicken or vegetable stock
- 150 grams of peppered cream cheese (or plain cream cheese)
- Tablespoon soya sauce
- 250ml cooking cream (I use 15% fat, but any cream is fine)
Mince the garlic, cut down the mushrooms, and fry them in butter in a small pot. Once cooked, add water and chicken or vegetable stock. I used half a dice in this recipe. Bring to a boil and add the cream cheese, soya sauce, cream, and parsley. Bring to boil again. Lower the heat and let simmer while the meat and vegetables are cooking. Add salt and pepper and taste.
We opened a bottle of some fine Icelandic red wine. Vineyards are harvested way up in the highland using the heat from the volcanoes. Only reachable every ten years. Nah just messing with you. There is no such thing. But we did have a very nice Italian wine with the meal, which we had kept warm and cozy in an Icelandic wool sweater 😉
Hope you have a wonderful meal.
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