28 July 2011

Rudolf, the Thoroughly Cooked Reindeer

I'm quite looking forward to autumn. It's less frenzied, life returns back to normal and I certainly don't spend my days being lazy and blogging excessively. But the ultimate highlight has to be the food – tastes of the forest, juniper berries, bilberries, moose meat. It's all very pleasing to the tongue. I dare say I don't even mind the rain, as long as the wind behaves responsibly. But this post is not about the weather. It is about stews. And reindeer.

My maternal grandmother, mormor, makes a mean autumn stew. Of course, she makes the entire stew with fresh ingredients – homemade sour cream, homemade black currant saft, moose meat shot by my uncle. As I cannot be trusted with a rifle (as clumsy as I am, I'm sure I'd end up shooting the neighbour's cat), moose hunting is out of the question, but I've got the second best thing: reindeer meat. 

Reindeer have been eaten in Norway since the start of time. In fact, the very word 'reindeer' is Norse, deriving from the word hreindȳri, meaning 'running animal' (in Norwegian, reinsdyr). Reindeer meat is still widely eaten, particularly in the autumn and winter. Because it is awesome. I've never understood people who wouldn't eat game meat. Understandably, it can be difficult to nibble on deer meat whilst you're thinking of Bambi, or reindeer meat with Rudolf, Cupid or Vixen on your mind. No, the best thing would simply be to forget all about these lovely creatures, and just eat your dinner. There is simply no time for anthropomorphic sentimentality here, because reindeer meat is delicious! It is not as 'heavy' as moose meat, but just as tender, dark and moist. And if that isn't enough for you to start eating Rudolph (sorry), let me add that reindeer meat is incredible healthy, stuffed with vitamin E and omega-3. There you go. Now go and eat.

{Mormor's Forest Stew}

700 g. reindeer, elk or moose meat
1 onion
2-3 carrots
1 parsley
5 crushed juniper berries
4 dl water
5 tbsp sour cream 
1 dl milk
1-2 tbsp flour
2-3 tbsp black currant saft or concentrate
1 tsp thyme
100 g. fresh mushrooms
Salt and pepper

1.Cut the meat into square pieces and sauté in the butter until thoroughly cooked. Remove and reserve. Add more butter, enough to coat the bottom of your pan, and add the onion, carrots and parsley. Cook until they turn limp. In a large casserole, place the reindeer meat, vegetables and the crushed juniper berries. Let it cook over warm heat, then turn the heat down and allow the meat to soak for 30 minutes.

2.In the pan, sauté the mushrooms in butter and add to the casserole. Mix the sour cream, milk and flour together and pour into the casserole along with the black currant concentrate, salt, pepper and thyme. Let it cook over warm heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn down the heat, and allow the stew to simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the meat is tender. 

Serve with potatoes and lingonberry jam

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