Yesterday, Poul’s mother served us the most delicious skerpikjøt (dried, fermented lamb). Skerpikjøt is characterized by a strong, distinct taste (and smell), and you either love it or hate it. I belong to the first group, and if nobody stops me, I can easily eat up most of a leg all by myself. With a little salt, skerpikjøt tastes heavenly, and a good piece of skerpikjøt is in my opinion, comparable to some of the finest prosciutto. It almost melts in your mouth and the taste is complex and nut-like.
I asked Poul’s mother about the process of producing skerpikjøt, and she told me how the meat (the hind legs and the saddle of the lamb in one piece) is hung out to dry in October in designated sheds. A couple of months later, around Christmas time, the less meaty parts (such as most of the saddle) are cut down and eaten as ræst kjøt. At that time, the fermentation process is in the early stages, which gives ræst kjøt a very sharp and almost rotten smell.
In April, the legs are finally brought in, and the meat, now called skerpikjøt, is ready to eat. The taste and the quality of the skerpikjøt depends on many factors including how the weather and temperature has been during the drying process, but also on the fodder. Most Faroese agree that the best skjerpikjøt is from lambs, which have been grazing in the mountains for a longer period with plenty of opportunity to run around.