The GP Advent Calendar of Cuisine – Puffin in milk sauce (Mjólkursoðinn lundi)

JWP, Going Postal
What the fuck!

I don’t care much for puffin and other sea-birds as food, but many people love them and eat them whenever they can. This recipe resembles the recipe for rock ptarmigan, in that the birds are cooked in milk.

  • 4 puffins
  • 50 g smoked bacon
  • 50 g butter
  • 300 ml milk
  • 300 ml water to taste salt

Puffins should be skinned or carefully plucked and singed. Remove the innards and discard. You can use the breasts alone, or cook the whole birds. Wash well in cold water and rub with salt, inside and out. If you are using whole birds, truss them. Lard the breasts with bacon fat. Brown the birds on all sides, and stuff them tightly into a cooking pot. Heat the milk and water and pour over the puffins. Bring to the boil and cook on low for 1-2 hours (test the birds for softness). Turn the birds occasionally. Remove from the cooking liquid and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

The sauce:

  • 30 g butter
  • 4 tblsp flour
  • 400-500 ml cooking liquid
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • as needed caramel/sauce colouring
  • to taste redcurrant jelly (optional)
  • to taste whipped cream

Melt the butter and stir the flour into it like you were making white sauce. Strain the cooking liquid and gradually add to the butter/flour mixture. Add colouring and spices to taste, and redcurrant jelly/cream, if using.
Serve with boiled and/or caramelized potatoes and lightly boiled vegetables, like carrots, peas and brussels sprouts.

Recipe taken from Helga Sigurðardóttir’s “Matur & Drykkur”, Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

JWP ©