Iceland has many nice restaurants. Yet, eating out is also very expensive. I rented an apartment with a full kitchen, just in case. It turned out to be the smartest decision I made! Most important of all, I surprised myself to work with limited supplies and ingredients in a foreign kitchen and still delivered yummy dishes (at least, according to my travel companion)!
My first night – Roasted Lamb Leg
Iceland has the most purest breeds of sheep. Lamb is the most widely consumed meat there. My travel partner, who arrived one day ahead of me, was dying for trying out a lamb dish. Yet, we were also in a limbo as we were waiting news on whether we could get on a northern lights tour that night. I roasted lamb shank and rack of lamb all the time back home in Toronto. Yet, I could not find that in the supermarket closest to us. I only found frozen lamb legs. Without any planning, I roasted a lamb leg FIRST TIME EVER in Reykjavik!
Although we had a full kitchen, we had to buy our own ingredients and seasonings. So, I decided to get some universal seasonings – salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, Dijon mustard, mint and rosemary – so that I could use those again for other dishes in the days to come.
How should I get started? I decided to treat the lamb leg as if I was doing my prime ribs, with some variations. First, I put a thin layer of Dijon mustard on the leg. Also, I sprinkled salt and pepper all over – never too much or too little. I punched some holes on the leg and put the peeled and smashed garlic in them. Then, I added freshly minced mint leaves and rosemary, generously, all over the lamb. Then, I covered everything with a thin layer of olive oil. Before I put that in the oven, I put in some extra onions, cloves of garlic and rosemary on the side.
How much time I did I use? I didn’t really look at the clock as I wasn’t so familiar with the power of the oven. So, I just kept looking at the colour of the lamb meat. I did use high heat (450F) to roast for about 15 minutes first. Then, I turned the heat down to about 300F. Roasted for approximately for another hour. I did turn it around once. Also, I added in some mushrooms and diced tomatoes during the last 15 minutes or so. And, it turned out to have my favourite medium-rare lamb leg! It was hard to explain but I felt like the lamb was talking to me and told me, “take me out now!”
My culinary skills are just a side-show. The real gem is the lamb – the texture and the flavour are really first-class. Anyone with reasonable culinary skills can make it right! It is a MUST-TRY in Iceland!