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Lamb Burgers With Feta Skyr Sauce In Iceland

Icelandic history tells us that the first person to settle in that country was a Norwegian clan chief, Ingólfr Arnarson, who brought his family to what is now the site of the city of Reykjavik in 874. At the time it must have felt like one of the remotest corners of the world, and even today when you travel through much of Iceland it feels as if no people have ever set foot there before you. The landscape seems much more suited for the giants and trolls that populate Icelandic sagas than ordinary human beings.

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All over Iceland volcanoes belch fire and lava while steam rises from vents in the ground. The island lies along the junction of some of the earth's great tectonic plates, and huge rifts appear in the ground which shift when earthquakes occur. Giant waterfalls thunder over dizzyingly high cliffs, throwing up a mist that drifts across the surroundings. The landscape is one of stunning beauty, with rolling green meadows through which rivers wind.

Many of the fearsome Vikings whose depredations terrified Europe for centuries set sail from Iceland, raiding along the coasts of England and France. It was not until the 12th century when Christianity was finally widely accepted across the Scandinavian countries that the ferocious raids finally ceased.

Þingvellir is the site where the Viking clans would meet each year, starting in 930, and make decisions. It is today celebrated as the site of the oldest parliament in the world and is a major tourist attraction in Iceland. It lies in a rift valley, with towering rock cliffs on both sides, and you can still see the sites of old cabins that were built and rebuilt centuries ago on the same locations every year.

Iceland is famous for its geysers, some of which erupt frequently and throw up steam and hot water tens of meters up into the air each time. It is a remarkable sight to see a pool of water bubble gently and then, all of a sudden, roar and throw up a massive plume before subsiding again.

The countryside is dotted with small family run farms, nestled among the mountains. Magnificent Icelandic horses with shaggy manes run playfully in the fields, while cows and sheep graze peacefully nearby. The scene is so idyllic and picturesque that you can stop your car by the deserted roadside and take as many photos as you want!

On our recent trip, we stopped off for lunch at Efstidalur II, a popular farm and B&B. Not only is the scenery around the farm stunning, the food is memorable too. Famous for their home made ice cream and burgers, the place is well worth a stop. We had their incredible house made skyr sauce with our burgers and might never go back to using mayo again!

The feta skyr sauce in this recipe is easy to make and versatile to use. The salty, tart flavours of the sauce go well with the lamb burger. It makes a great salad dressing too and can be thinned out with a little buttermilk if desired. If you wish, you can substitute mint in place of the dill. If you'd like an alternative to lamb burgers, try spicy Masala chicken burgers

Lamb Burgers With Feta Skyr Sauce

Feta Skyr Sauce:

1/4 cup each: crumbled feta, plain skyr or Greek yogurt

1 tbsp each: lemon juice, chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Lamb Burgers:

1 lb ground lamb

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 cup each, finely chopped: red onions, fresh parsley

4 hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls, sliced horizontally in half

Toppings:

Fresh leaf lettuce

Sliced ripe tomatoes

Sliced red onions

Sliced cheese (optional)

To make skyr sauce, combine all sauce ingredients together in small mixing bowl. Mash well with a fork to blend. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Combine all burger ingredients in large mixing bowl, mixing well with your hands to incorporate. Divide into four equal portions. Shape each portion into a thick patty, flattening it to fit the size of the bun.

To cook burgers, either grill them on a medium hot barbecue or pan fry them in a skillet over medium heat until done to your liking.

To assemble burgers, evenly spread the feta skyr sauce on top and bottom halves of all the buns. Line bottom halves with lettuce leaves. Place a cooked lamb burger patty over lettuce. Top with cheese (if using), tomato and red onion. Cover with top halves of the buns.

Serves four