Hangikjöt, The Christmas Tradition In Iceland

No traditional Icelandic Christmas season is complete without the centerpiece, hangikjöt. The name and curing method originate in Iceland’s Viking age settlement era when meat was preserved by hanging it in a smokehouse. Hangikjöt, which means “hung meat” in Icelandic, is savory smoked lamb. It can be served raw as an appetizer, either sliced or in tartare. Well, prepared raw hangikjöt is the Icelandic answer to all the prosciutto of the world.  Most of it is cooked and served with potatoes in bechamel sauce (Icelanders love good sauce), green peas, pickled red cabbage or beetroot, and the traditional Icelandic Christmas bread, laufabrauð. 90% of Icelanders will feast on the delicacy during the Holidays. It´s also used sliced as on sandwiches and Icelandic rye flatbread. There are two main methods of smoking the meat, based on the main fuel used. After curing the meat it should be smoked with either birch wood or sheep dung. Which sprouted out of an age-old necessity for the lack of fuel in a country, that frankly does not have a lot of trees.

Check out our recipe for old-school hangikjöt here.