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Icelandic Christmas: What's for Dinner?

  • Blog
  • Louise Jones
  • 07-12-2016 11:16:10

The Icelandic Christmas dinner is a little different to the roast turkey you might expect to eat on 25th. Here's a rundown of what you'll find at the table on 24th...

  • Smoked lamb

Back many centuries ago, Christmas dinner used to be a meath broth made from lamb, known as kjötsúpa. These days, the dinner's more sophisticated with some delicious smoked lamb, or hangikjöt. This is normally smoked at home earlier that day, so there's a lovely aroma of lamb wafting through the house...we're getting hungry just thinking about it. The lamb's served up with laufabraud- you can read more about this leaf bread here.

  • Caramelised potatoes

You're bound to find lots of methods for cooking potatoes for Christmas but here's an Icelandic method you might not have heard of. Brúnaðar kartöflur are caramelised potatoes! It might sound a bit strange to eat with smoked meat but the sugar- and butter-glazed potatoes are delicious. The method's from Denmark- thanks for sending the recipe over!

  • Ptarmigan

Come again? Ptarmigan, or rjúpa, is a game bird slightly bigger than a partridge (and this bird doesn't come with any pear trees). Ptarmigan used to only be eaten by poorer families at Christmas, but these days it's a popular choice at the dinner table. Other meat Icelanders might have for Christmas dinner include beef and turkey.

  • Peas and pickle

Peas are often served up, as well as pickled beetroot and red cabbage. Imagine how pink your smile would be after eating a bit forkful of beetroot and cabbage together!

  • Lots of sauce

Icelanders love their condiments, and Christmas is no exception. As well as gravy, keep an eye out for bechemel and mushroom sauce. That's not to mention any jams which might be on the table...help yourself to a healthy dollop of each!

  • Peppery pudding

The traditional Christmas pudding used to be a rice pudding with raisins- topped with some sugar and cinnamon, it was known as jólagrautur. Now there's a lot more choice- including piparkökur, which are peppery or ginger biscuits. Often sweets come with a bit of a kick in Iceland! Another traditional dessert is the vinarterta, a cake made from thin layers and plum or prune jam. This cake has been a celebration cake recorded back in 1875- and it's travelled as far as parts of Canada to become a part of family traditions there!

traditional icelandic

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