Sheep and lambs
In the Viking Age a self-sufficient household would, among other domestic animals, have sheep. The hardy sheep is able to do on grazing grounds which are too poor for other domestic animals. Apart from the wool and and the tallow, which the Vikings used for clothing and tallow candles, the blood and the meat was used in the kitchen. Sheep and lambs where slaughtered on a regular basis maybe one or two at a time, and especially in the occasion of festivities.
The minute the sheep/lamb has been slaughtered, the blood is collected in a fairly big earthenware pot. It's important to stir the blood continuously to prevent it from coagulating. Add a little cold water in order to cool it down quickly and keep stirring until the blood has cooled completely.
5 cups lamb blood
5 cups milk
1 cup rye flour
A little salt
Lard for baking
Mix the rye flour and blood in an earthenware pot. Add milk, honey, spices, thyme, salt and eggs and whisk to form a batter.
Melt a little lard on a hot frying pan and bake the blood pancakes. Serve warm.
From excavations we know that pit cooking was a cooking method widely used in the Viking Age. To make a cooking pit or earth oven dig a hole which is 1 m broad and 0.5 m deep. The turves from the hole plus an equal amount are later to cover the pit.
Line the pit - bottom and sides - with stones the size of a big fist. Put the stones as close together as possible. Avoid using flint stones as they have a tendency to crack when heated.
Build a fire in the pit. You will need quite a lot of firewood - at least a couple of big baskets full of wood. When the fire is burning, add more stones to the fire. After a couple of hours the firewood will have burnt down to coals and the stones will all be very hot, but before then you need to prepare the meat.
The meat may be a boned leg of lamb, pork, veal or poultry. Rub the meat with a generous amount of salt, fresh herbs and garlic. Wash some Dock leaves, Curled Dock leaves or Burdock leaves. Tightly wrap up the meat and herbs in leaves and tie the 'parcel' with lime bast.
When the stones are sizzling hot you need to move the top stones and the live coals to the sides. At this stage it's necessary to work fast for the pit not to lose in temperature. Cover the hot stones lining the bottom of the pit with wet grass. Place the parcel of meat onto the grass and move the hot stones back to cover the parcels completely.
Next, cover the stones with two layers of turves. The first layer with the grass-side down. The second layer with grass-side up.
Allow 0.5 hour plus 1 hour per kilo of meat in cooking time. Then remove the parcel of meat from the oven, discard the burnt leaves to reveal the tender meat inside.
The temperature in a pit oven can reach about 200 degrees centigrade, which kills the soil bacterias.
Lamb and cabbage
1 kg diced lamb
0.5 kg diced smoked pork
Cracked wheat, soaked overnight
Chopped Cabbage leaves
Chopped fresh marjoram
Chopped fresh thyme
Chopped Angelica leaves/stems
Chopped spring onion
Cook the lamb, smoked pork and onions in a big pot till brown. Add the cracked wheat and enough water to cover. Leave to simmer until the meat is almost tender. You can add a little more water if necessary. Next, add the cabbage, Angelica leaves/stems and herbs and let it simmer a few minutes longer. Season to taste and garnish with chopped spring onions. Serve with e.g. flat bread.
Lamb rolls with herbs
Finely chopped garlic
Finely chopped onion
Herbs like e.g. leaves of parsley root, stinging nettles, thyme
Washed Burdock leaves
Cut the flank in pieces of 10 x 10 cm. Drizzle the pieces with salt, onion, garlic and plenty of herbs. Roll up the lamb pieces, wrap in Burdock leaves and tie each roll with lime bast. Place on a grill over live coal and cook till tender.
1 cup = 150 ml approx.
Ribe VikingeCenter's 2012 project 'Nordic food is Viking food' is supported by Region Syddanmark.