My family is fond of a recipe that I first encountered in a recipe collection included in a medieval Icelandic medical miscellany, hence refer to as "Icelandic Chicken." A scholar who studied it and a group of related manuscripts concluded that they were all daughters of a lost original, probably from southern Europe. So the recipe is Icelandic in the sense of having been in a written text in Iceland but did not originate in Iceland and may never have been made there.
To make it, you cut a chicken in half, roll out a flour and water dough, cover it with sage leaves, cover those with bacon, and wrap each half chicken. Each ends up enclosed in successive layers of bacon, sage, and dough. You then bake it. The dough, especially the dough under the chicken that gets the drippings and the bacon fat, is yummy, the meat juicier than with an ordinary baked chicken.
This Christmas we decided to experiment with Icelandic turkey. The bird was about fourteen and a half pounds, that being the smallest we could get for five of us—my immediate family and my wife's mother. Out of respect to Christmas and Thanksgiving tradition I used the whole turkey instead of cutting it in half.
I made the dough with about ten cups of flour and three or four of water, enough to be kneaded into a soft but not wet dough. The turkey was stuffed, the dough covered with sage less densely than the chicken usually is, due to not enough sage leaves. The half of the dough that went under the turkey was covered with bacon strips, the rest of a pound of bacon went on top of the turkey and the other half of the dough on top of that. The two halves of the dough were sealed together.
The pan we usually use for roasting turkey in being unavailable, I put the wrapped turkey in a large oval Le Creuset pan, into which it barely fit. Then the whole thing was baked in a 325° oven, that being the temperature we use for Icelandic chicken. From time to time I basted the top with drippings. It ended up breast down, not by my intent but because once it was wrapped it was unclear which side was which.
It came out pretty well—the meat a little better than with our usual version of roast turkey. The bread on top of the bird was distinctly crunchy, the bread underneath soft and tasty. Next time I will do it in a larger pan and probably use more sage and bacon.
Anyone curious about the Icelandic chicken recipe can find it in How to Milk an Almond, Stuff an Egg, and Armor a Turnip: A Thousand Years of Recipes
, webbed as a pdf
on my site, available as a hardcopy