Icelandic Shoulder of Lamb with Caramelized Cabbage and Cognac-Red Currant Jelly

Icelandic shoulder of lamb with caramelized cabbage and cognac-red currant jelly.

When I visited Iceland, I was shocked by the dramatic changes in terrain over very short distances. I learned that this is due to its extreme climate – little can grow or survive here. Still, the Icelandic people have found ways to use what does grow to make hearty and flavorful dishes – and in many cases, incredibly unique ones. I decided to spare you regional specialties like fermented shark and cured lamb’s head; instead, we’re focusing on comforting roasted lamb and melted cabbage, both very easily attainable ingredients in Iceland.

Icelandic Shoulder of Lamb with Caramelized Cabbage and Cognac-Red Currant Jelly

If cabbage simply wilts and doesn’t gain much color or caramelization, don't worry – it will still taste great!

Serves | 6 |


  • 2 lbs lamb shoulder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup Riesling
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cognac-Red Currant Jelly

  • 5 Tbsp salted butter
  • ½ cup red currant jelly
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp cognac
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom, plus more to taste

Caramelized Cabbage

  • 4 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp agave syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste


  • olive oil
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

| Preparation – Lamb | On a clean work surface, rub lamb with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme and sugar. Transfer to a 2-gallon zip-close freezer bag and add bay leaves, Riesling and pepper. Seal bag and gently shake to fully coat lamb with marinade. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

| Preparation – Cognac-Red Currant Jelly | In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add red currant jelly, sherry vinegar and cognac. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Whisk in ground cardamom and lightly tent with aluminum foil to keep warm; set aside. Reserve skillet with pan fond for cooking lamb.

| Preparation – Caramelized Cabbage | In a large skillet over medium heat, add butter. Once foaming, add cabbage, onion, agave syrup, garlic and salt, adding more to taste. Cook until cabbage is soft and slightly caramelized. Remove to a 9-by-11-inch baking dish, using a spatula to evenly spread mixture across the bottom. Lightly tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

| Assembly | Preheat oven to 300°F. In the same large skillet used to prepare jelly, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of pan and generously season with salt.

Remove lamb from zip-close bag and reserve marinade; discard bay leaves. Using paper towels, pat lamb dry; add to skillet with hot oil. Brown lamb on all sides, using tongs to flip halfway through, about 8 minutes total.

Remove foil from cabbage and transfer lamb to baking dish, burying meat in cabbage so it’s completely covered. Pour reserved marinade over cabbage and sprinkle sugar over top. Roast in oven for at least 2 hours or until meat falls away from the bone. If the top of the cabbage starts getting too brown, cover baking dish with aluminum foil and continue cooking.

| To Serve | Divide and center caramelized cabbage between 6 serving plates. Make a well in the top the cabbage. Pull apart large chunks of tender lamb meat and place in wells of cabbage. Top each with a spoonful of warm jelly; serve.

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