What’s white, salty, has a thick texture and you only eat at Christmas? You guessed right, it’s Uppstúfur, often called Jafningur, or white sauce. You put hot potatoes in it and spray it all over Hangikjöt and you have yourself the most Icelandic dishes of them all: Hangikjöt with Jafningur.
Uppstúfur is more or less made out of wheat, milk, sugar, salt and a lot of butter. It’s fairly easy to cook. And if you are in a really raunchy kind of mood, you can also buy yourself some smoked sausage and drain it in the white bliss of uppstúfur, chuck it all down with some good old fashioned Malt Extract and contemplate on how your life ended up so terribly sad.
Uppstúfur is surprisingly sweet and is more or less the only reason anyone would eat hangikjöt, or smoked lamb. The meat is often served cold, tough on the tooth and reminds you of how it must have been absolutely miserable for the old Icelanders in a turf cot in the middle of a December storm with nothing more than hangikjöt, which literally means “hanging meat” and is usually smoked in dung.
Uppstúfur is probably, like all nasty things, Danish. The word comes from the Danish word opstuvning. Icelanders used to use this recipe to make their sauces thicker but somehow it ended up as an unbreakable part of Icelandic Christmas tradition—forcing innocent children to eat smoked lamb, which they drown in the white sauce to avoid the bitter taste. It doesn’t work. But you can’t help trying.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!