17/07/2006

Fried rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) - Steiktar Rjúpur

This is THE Christmas dish in many Icelandic 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 don't feel like going through the whole process of shooting, hanging, plucking and cleaning the birds. They people simply go to the next supermarket and buy the birds ready to cook.

3 rock ptarmigans, plucked, cleaned and ready for cooking
75 g fatty bacon
90 g butter/margarine
450 ml boiling water
450 ml boiling milk
2 tsp salt
300 ml cream
2 tbs flour
caramel colouring for the sauce - optional

Cut slits into the bird's chests and lard with strips of bacon fat (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. Miw water and milk, heat 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 up the birds and serve with mixed vegetables, pickled red cabbage, redcurrant jam and caramelized potatoes.

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

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