Watch this audio slideshow on how to make rúllupylsa, literally: rolled sausage, a popular bread topping in Iceland. It is made from lamb bellies and filled with all sorts of delicious ingredients, including onion, ginger and parsley. Rúllupylsa tastes best complemented with strong mustard, cheese, or fresh vegetables.
Photos and narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir [email protected].
Click here to download the audio slideshow.
Many Icelanders are shopping economically these days and, in the fall, buy boxes with recently-slaughtered lambs at the supermarket, containing whole and/or chopped legs of lamb, a saddle, soup meat and bellies (not including variety meat and heads), to store in their freezers, which is less expensive than buying each piece of meat individually.
The best way to use the bellies is to make rúllupylsa, literally: rolled sausage, which is a popular bread topping in Iceland, usually bought ready-made. However, making it yourself is quite simple and, of course, a lot more fun.
Use one large or two small bellies. First wash and dry them. Then use a sharp knife to cut out the ribs (even though there’s no meat on the ribs, you can use them to make broth for soup, if you like). You may also want to remove some of the fat. To soften the bellies, beat them with a meat hammer.
If you want your sausage to be meatier, cut some of the soup meat into pieces and place on top of the first belly. Then place the second belly on top of the first so that they form a square. Complement with some more soup meat.
The filling can be made of a variety of ingredients and not all of the following are necessary. The proportions also depend on individual taste; some might perhaps prefer more salt and pepper. This recipe is not particularly spicy.
Chop one onion and put it into a bowl. Add two tablespoons finely-chopped parsley and rosemary. Then add some ginger, either fresh or dried; half a teaspoon is enough. If you use fresh ginger, peel it and finely shred it. Some finely-shredded garlic is optional.
Add two tablespoons coarse salt, one teaspoon sugar and one teaspoon freshly-ground pepper. One fourth teaspoon clove adds a distinct and Christmassy flavor to the sausage. Some recipes also include thyme, allspice and saltpeter.
Mix everything together in a bowl and spread the mixture evenly on the bellies. Roll the sausage as tightly as you can and then use a string to keep it together. Tie the string tightly around the rolled sausage.
You can either boil the sausage straight away or let it soak in brine for a few days first for an increased salty flavor and in order to preserve it longer.
Either way, boil the rolled sausage for approximately one hour. Then put it on a plate and cover it up with a plastic bag or a kitchen towel and place something heavy on top of it. Let the sausage compress overnight.
Once the sausage has been flattened out, remove the string and cut it into thin slices. Butter some bread—Icelandic rúgbraud (dark rye bread) or flatkaka (flat bread) is best—and place a slice of rúllupylsa on top.
To make it spicier, smear the rolled sausage with some strong mustard. It also tastes good in a combination with slices of Gouda cheese, a hard-boiled egg, pickles or fresh vegetables.
For example, a leaf of lettuce, a few slices of tomato and cucumber, complemented with some freshly-ground pepper, makes the sausage absolutely delicious.
However you choose to serve it, rúllupylsa is perfect for a long and relaxed brunch on weekends or during the holidays.