Icelandic lamb and wild thyme hotpot

Icelandic lamb and wild thyme hotpot

This recipe is actually a reproduction of a dish I made while camping in Iceland in 2015 in a 30 year old Land Rover, with my husband Tim and my great friend Liz. We were camping in the most beautiful campsite at Þakgil just north of Vik – almost a secluded canyon – green carpeted and surrounded by steep mountain walls high above a glacial valley. We had climbed up the winding gravel roads in the old Landy, stopping to take in the breath-taking views. When we got to the site Liz and I went for a bit of a wander in the surrounding mountains – including crossing a shallow but very icy stream! I recognized the purple flowers of the wild thyme growing all over the hillside, and picked a wee handful to go with some fat lamb neck fillets we’d bought earlier that day.

I cooked this on a little two-ring gas stove and it was one of the most delicious meals ever – sweet rich lamb, tender melting onions layered over a bed of sliced potatoes eaten out in the open air. There were a few fellow campers with eyes on somewhat jealous stalks – who says camping has to mean beans and instant noodles! We had a great foodie adventure together around Iceland and I really loved the country – between the friendly people, the excellent food (langoustine fresh out of the sea at Höfn, smoked puffin at Húsavík…) and the spectacular countryside it is a destination I’d highly recommend.

Feeds 3 (greedy people)

Ingredients:
3 nice fat lamb fillets
75g butter
3 onions, thinly sliced in half rings
4 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (£1 coin thickness)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
A small handful of thyme sprigs
A good glug of white wine
About 250g chicken stock

Method:
Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan – I use my amazing lidded cast iron “Dutch Oven” pan, which happily goes from stove top to oven and holds heat beautifully.

Add the sliced onions, stir the butter through and stick a lid on and let them sweat on a low heat for 6-7 minutes.

In the meantime get a big pan of water to a rolling boil, then add the sliced potatoes. Let them parboil slightly for maybe 5 minutes – you don’t want to cook them through, just give them a bit of a head start so you’re not waiting forever for your dinner (I may be impatient…). Then drain them carefully (so they don’t break up) and allow them to steam off for a few minutes.

Remove the lid from the onions and turn the heat back up to medium-high, give them a good stir and let them caramelize into a soft gooey tangle. Add your thyme leaves, garlic and be generous with some pinches of sea salt and black pepper.


Take the onion mixture out of the pan and set aside. Begin layering potatoes into the pan, then spread the onions over, add another potato layer to top it.

Sear the lamb fillets on a high heat (be fierce with them) to brown them nicely all over, before adding them on top of the potatoes and onions.


Deglaze the lamb pan with the wine, pour it over the fillets and then add the stock until it just comes up to the level of the potatoes. Don’t overdo it with the liquid otherwise your top layer of potatoes will be too mushy to crisp up on the top.

It will cook through on the hob (or the camping stove), but to make life easier this time I popped it into the oven at GM6 for about 20mins until the potatoes were soft. Then I took the lamb fillets out to rest somewhere warm and whacked the heat up to GM9 for another 10mins to crisp up the potatoes.

I found a shot of the original and our amazing camping site!

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