Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my Amma made two things that were essential to the Walker family Christmas - rullupylsa and molasses brown bread. Rullupylsa is an Icelandic cured meat dish that is traditionally made with lamb flank (we use beef flank and always have). It is seasoned and tenderized and then left to cure in the fridge for a week. You then boil it for several hours and store it in the fridge. It will last for weeks - if it doesn't get eaten first.
My Amma passed away in 2003 so the responsibility for making this traditional food went to my Dad. My sister learned to make it a couple of years ago but strangely, it took until this past Christmas for me to learn (and cross an item off my life list!). Aside from loving to eat rullupylsa, I'm really happy that I can now carry on this tradition and introduce my own family to the delights of rullupylsa.
At the beginning of December we went out to my Dad's for a lesson and marathon assembly session (I think we made 11 total). I took some pictures to show the basic process and will also include the recipes for anyone wanting to try their hand at making it.
2 lb. flank steak, beef or lamb
3Tbsp Morton's Tender Quick meat cure salt
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped fine (almost pulverized)
Heavy duty needle
Lay the flank out flat. There is a thin membrane on one side of the flank - lay that side down so that when you roll the flank it is easier to sew closed. Mix the salt and spices and rub 3/4 of the mixture all over the flank. Spread chopped onion over 2/3 of the flank.
Roll the flank up starting from the end with onions - rolling will push the onions over the whole flank. Using the heavy thread and needle start sewing from the middle down to one end. Tie it off and return to the middle to sew the other side. Rub the remaining spices over the outside of the flank. Wrap your cylindrical flank tightly with kitchen string.
Wrap in two layers of plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, turning daily.
Boil for 2-3 hours, continually replenishing the water to keep the flank covered. Press with a pile of books or other heavy objects until cooled. Wrap with plastic and tin foil and freeze until needed.
Makes 3 medium sized loaves
1 Tbsp yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar
6 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup cooking or blackstrap molasses (NOT fancy)
3 cups warm water
4 to 5 cups white flour
4 to 5 cups whole wheat flour
Place the liquid in a large bowl with the sugar, salt, oil and molasses. Stir in 2 cups of flour and beat to form a smooth batter. Stir the yeast mixture well and stir into batter. Beat until mixture is very smooth and elastic. Work in remaining flour (you may not need it all) and knead until smooth, springy, and slightly sticky. Cover and let rise to double its size. Knead and let rise again. Shape into 3 medium sized loaves, place on parchment paper covered baking sheet, cut slits in the tops, and let rise for a final time. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Turn temperature down to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes, depending on size of loaves. Loaves should be a nice golden colour.
This is quite a dense bread with the nice molasses flavour. Cut off a slice, butter it, and serve with a slice of rullupylsa on top. (We ate all the rullupylsa before I remembered to take a picture.)
Is there something your family eats every Christmas?