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Reindeer stew This dish is typical of Lapland, the northern province of Finland, and is traditionally served with sugared lingonberries or lingonberry jam and potato puree made with Lapland almond potatoes.

To make this stew, very thin, frozen slices of reindeer meat are slowly braised in lots of butter.

There is readily sliced, either fresh, packed or frozen reindeer stew meat sold in many Finnish grocery stores, but the meat is almost always of a poor quality and badly trimmed (tough, sinewy) and much too thickly sliced, with an unpleasant, stuffy taste. Also all sorts of canned reindeer stew or meat products often found sold at Nordic airports and tourists shops are quite inedible, and would leave a very bad impression on anyone tasting reindeer meat for the first time.

Instead of using these inferior products, buy a whole reindeer roast, preferably fresh or, lacking that, frozen. If using fresh roast, wrap it up airtight in a freezer bag and freeze until semi-frozen, or hard enough to be cut into paper-thin slices with a sharp knife. If using frozen roast, let it thaw in refrigerator, unwrapped, until soft enough to be cut into paper-thin slices with a sharp knife  —  it should feel rather similar to carving a piece of wood :-)

700 g frozen reindeer roast
100 g butter
fresh or frozen lingonberries or cranberries, or lingonberry jam

Start with cutting the half-frozen reindeer roast into paper thin slices (see the pictures below). Melt the butter in frying pan.

Slicing a frozen reindeer roast
Frozen reindeer roast Arrow Slices cut from the frozen roast

When the butter is hot, cook the meat slices in it in batches, stirring until the excess moisture has evaporated. Do not brown the meat. Transfer the cooked slices in a saucepan. Repeat with the remaining meat slices. Season with salt. Traditionally no other seasonings are used  —  or indeed needed  —  to flavour this stew.

Rinse the frying pan with a dash of water and pour the water on the meat in the saucepan. Cover the pan with lid and let the stew simmer for a short while. Reindeer roast is very tender and does not have to be cooked for a long time.

Mix fresh berries with sugar and let stand until the sugar has dissolved. Bring frozen berries to the boil in saucepan with some sugar to taste. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved. Serve with the stew.

Serving suggestions:
Spoon some potato puree on the middle of a plate. Top the puree with reindeer stew and sugared lingonberries or jam like in the picture above.
For a slightly unorthodox reindeer stew, you can add some thinly sliced onion sautéed in butter and black pepper to the dish.
Serves 2 - 4.

Recipe source: family recipe/traditional Finnish recipe.


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