miðvikudagur, febrúar 01, 2006

how to make hangikjöt

Hangikjöt, or hanging-meat, is an Icelandic specialty that's served as a Sunday meal and often makes an appearance as the special meal served on the second day of Christmas (the 26th). Hangikjöt is lamb that's been smokehouse-cured, and the word on the street is that the stuff that makes the best smoky-smoke is dried sheep's dung. Sheep's dung or no, h-kjöt is some tasty meat eatin'. I cooked some for E last Friday. Here's how to make your own:

1. Pick out a hangikjöt at your neighborhood Nóatún, or on your way through the Keflavík international airport on your next budget hop to Paris. It comes in a plastic bag and is clearly marked with "Hangikjöt" - Iceland doesn't much go in for brand names. Ours was about 800 grams, which was enough for 2 people, plus leftovers for pressed-cheese sandwiches and a planned future omelet.
2. Go home. If you have to go through U.S. Customs to get there, make sure they gave you a special "Pure Iceland Meat, Trust Me, Customs Guy" veterinary certificate at the Duty Free.
3. Fill up a big stock pot with cold cold water.
4. Cut up some carrots, onions, and garlic, and throw them in the pot.
5. Take the meat out of its plastic wrapper, but leave the mesh netting on. The netting will help the whole thing stay together in the tumultuous times ahead.
6. Toss the meat in the cold cold water with the veggies and cover.
7. Put some medium heat under the pot.
8. Let the water come to simmering very slowly, over the course of an hour.
9. After simmering is attained, let the meat simmer for a while. I did ours for 40 minutes, but a more traditional larger piece would take 60 minutes. You know, give or take. I don't want to stifle any creativity.
10. So, simmer that baby away.
11. After the simmering time is up, cut the heat. Let the whole pot cool for another hour or two. You can use that time to prepare a fresh salad.
12. Kidding. (But some frozen pizza boxes actually say this. I can't believe it. What a nanny culture the world has become.) So let it cool. The longer this takes, the more flavor lock-in from the veggies you'll get. So be patient.
13. Toward the end of the cool-down period, fire up some white sauce. Just like mom once taught you: flour, butter and milk. Salt, pepper, and a bit of nutmeg, too. Hey, why not.
14. Heat up some green peas, too. Even if you don't like them and refused to eat them as a kid, like someone I know, just do it. They must be served with hangikjöt. No two ways around it.
15. Remove the meat from Carrot Jones' Locker, cut off the surrounding mesh, and carve. Carve across the grain so you get round pieces.
16. Plate the meat with white sauce on top and the peas on top of that. Some nice pickled red cabbage (rauðkál) is good on the side.
17. Serve, to the surprised delight of your girlfriend, who will say "Wow, I kinda had my doubts about this meal. But this is good! You done good, babe."
18. Awake the next morning to the strong smell of smoked food pervading every nook and cranny of the house. If you have regrets, just remember that this is the smell of Christmas in Iceland.


Blogger Farbror Willy said...

Jömmí!! Actually my family is so old fashioned that we eat warm hangikjöt on Christmas Eve (some people cook it the day before and eat it cold). That's not so common anymore.

Eina sem vantaði hjá þér var laufabrauð og smjör!

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Mr. Ásgrímsson should grant both of you citizenship on the spot.


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