Tasty Icelandic/Greek Lamb Recipes that We Love!
Icelanders and Greeks love their lamb and eat it frequently throughout the year. The traditional high season for lamb in Greece is around Greek Easter (spring time) whereas autumn is the traditional lamb season in Iceland, with the 4 – 5 month old livestock being slaughtered after grazing in the highlands throughout the summer.
Actually, each September after being free to roam the mountains and fjords grazing on a diet of sedge grass, moss and berries during long, sun filled summer days, about 800,000 woolly mammals are rounded up by farmers on horseback and driven down the hillsides into communal sheepfolds in more than 150 locations across the country; a celebratory traditional event called Réttir that dates back to more than 300 years!
For more info on this event check out my blog post Celebrating Sheep Herding in Iceland!
Although I very rarely eat meat, when I’m in Iceland, I can’t resist the wonderfully lean and tender Icelandic lamb meat with its unique flavor . . . results from grazing in the country’s wild pastures and being raised without hormones or antibiotics in a pure and clean environment . . . something I can’t vouch for in Greece!
My absolute favorite for a family gathering is an oven roasted Saddle of Lamb with fresh thyme or rosemary that is easy to prepare and always a real treat with roasted potatoes, fresh veggies or salads. Here is a link to our family recipe!
In my grannies time I can’t remember the saddle of lamb being roasted with fresh herbs but it was always rubbed with lots of butter, salt and pepper. Mom and I started using olive oil mixed with butter and playing around with the seasoning and herbs.
My brother Rafn, who is a great cook, normally makes an incision alongside of the backbone (see photos above) which speeds up the cooking a bit and makes it so much easier to cut the meat (the whole loin) away from the bone before serving. A great idea that I hope you keep in mind if you decide to cook a whole saddle of lamb!
Another must, when in Iceland, is the traditional hearty Lamb/Veggie Soup. Normally we make it with rutabagas and other veggies and herbs. It’s a really healthy, filling and satisfying meal that we eat all year round in Iceland. In Greece however, I only make it during the wintertime . . . and since rutabagas are sometimes hard to find, I normally use pumpkin instead; a bit different but delicious just as delicious! Here is the link to the recipe!
For Easter in Greece it’s all about pit roasting whole lambs whereas in Iceland we like oven roasting whole legs of lamb, marinated or not, with any kind of herbs or spices.
Here is my recipe for the oven roasted Leg of lamb with a pepper/oregano crust.
I’ve already mentioned some of my favorite lamb dishes that I cook but the one I cook the most often, whether I’m in Iceland or in Greece, is my Mediterranean/Greek lamb shank recipe with lentils or beans that is both healthy and delicious!
It's the perfect one-pot meal to cook for a happy meal with family or friends and should you have some vegetarians coming, you can always cook and serve the lamb shanks with the herbs separately from the veggies; adjusting the broth, chopped tomatoes and seasoning accordingly.
Sometimes I add a glass of red wine to the meat recipe, especially when I’m in Greece where good red wine is readily available at reasonable prices . . . at least compared to wines available through the monopoly in Iceland!
With that thought in mind . . .Cheers with a glass of red wine, or another beverage, that I hope will accompany a delicious lamb dish . . . wherever you may be!
Until soon again!