Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Steiktar Rjúpur (Fried rock ptarmigan)

This is THE Christmas dish in many homes, although not in mine. I must admit that I have never tasted ptarmigan, but this is such a typical Icelandic Christmas dish that I had to include it here. Some of my friends claim that there wouldn't be any Christmas in their homes without it. For some, it has to be birds shot by their father, brother or uncle, but these days more and more people are too lazy to go through the whole process of shooting, hanging, plucking and cleaning the birds. These people simply go to the next supermarket and buy the birds ready to cook.


3 ea. rock ptarmigans, ready for cooking
75 gr. fatty bacon
90 gr. butter/margarine
450 ml. boiling water
450 ml. boiling milk
2 tsp. salt
300 ml. cream
2 tblsp. flour
caramel colouring for the sauce - optional


Cut slits into the bird's chests and draw strips of bacon through (this is to ensure that the flesh will not be too dry). Truss the birds. Melt the butter in a cooking pot and brown the birds on all sides in the fat. Heat water and milk to boiling and pour over the birds. Add the salt and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove the birds and strain the cooking liquid. Thicken with a mixture of cold water and flour. Add the cream and adjust the flavouring to taste. Divide the birds and serve with mixed vegetables, dried fruit (stewed), pickled red cabbage, redcurrant jam and caramelized potatoes.

Optional: add a little redcurrant jam to the sauce for extra flavour.

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