The vension stroganina (sliced frozen venison meat). Svetlana Kozeiko, "Tsarskaya Okhota", Murmansk Press office of the project "Gastronomic map of Russia"
For inhabitants of the Russian North, reindeer meat is not an exotic delicacy, but a staple food. Restaurant chefs from Murmansk Region spill the beans on how to cook dishes made of real northern deer.
1. Reindeer soup
Maxim Galetsky, brand chef, M-Club restaurant, Murmansk
Reindeer soup is a traditional Arctic dish. Although deer meat is considered dietary, this soup is very thick and rich. It’s how it has been cooked for centuries, to impart strength and vigor to northern hunters.
How to prepare
- Before boiling the broth, fry celery root (80 g) and onions (160 g)
- Pour cold water (1.5 l) over the mixture and a reindeer fillet (240 g), add juniper berries (8 g), black peppercorns, salt, bay leaf, and thyme.
- Cook the broth on low heat for 1-2 hours until the meat is well boiled. Take out the meat and strain the broth.
- Bring the broth to the boil, add peeled and diced potatoes (160 g), sauteed onion, boiled venison and simmer on a low heat until the potatoes are tender (15-20 mins). Add cowberries (100 g) to the soup 10 minutes before the end of boiling.
- Next, fry raw buckwheat (130 g) in butter for 2-3 minutes, add thyme and rosemary, pour in the broth (300 ml) and heat for 10-12 minutes.
- Put the cooked buckwheat on a plate and pour on the soup.
2. Reindeer pelmeni
Sergey and Yulia Biksaleev, owners of Teribersky Bereg tourist complex, Teriberka, Murmansk Region
It’s not so easy to get to the northernmost village on the Barents Sea — more than 130 km through the tundra. Tourists often arrive hungry, tired - and frozen stiff. Thankfully, this dish is here to lift their spirits and thaw them out.
How to prepare
- Chop reindeer meat (400 g), rinse and remove the veins, cut into pieces for the meat grinder and add lard (40 g). Grind the mass with two onions into minced meat, add black pepper to taste, plus half a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- Next, knead the dough by combining 2 eggs, milk (130 ml) and flour (500 g). After kneading the dough, leave for 20 minutes.
- Cut and roll out circles from the dough, place the minced venison and lard in the middle, shape the pelmeni and then boil in salty water.
- As soon as the pelmeni start to float, fish them out, sprinkle with herbs and serve piping hot.
3. Stewed reindeer with porcini mushrooms
Igor Bliskun, chef, Eco Home hotel restaurant, Murmansk
The delicate mushroom sauce, steamed asparagus and pleasant cowberry acidity perfectly complement the traditional combination of stewed meat and mashed potato. In the chef’s own words, this dish makes for the perfect romantic dinner.
How to prepare
- Place chopped green onions (5-7 leaves), 2 celery stalks and reindeer meat (400 g) in a saucepan with thick sides and put on low heat for 2.5 hours. After an hour, add salt, a finely chopped sprig of basil, half a chili, and black pepper (10 corns) and 1-2 sprigs of rosemary and leave to stew until ready.
- Boil peeled, chopped potatoes (300 g) in salted water until soft. In a stewing pan, heat half a glass of milk. Dissolve butter in the hot milk. Add the milk and butter mixture to the potato and beat with a blender.
- Next, prepare the mushroom sauce. Wash 3-4 fresh porcini mushrooms, dice into small cubes and boil for 25 minutes in boiling water. Pour half a teaspoon of cream into a preheated stewing pan, lay out the mushrooms, add concentrated mushroom stock to taste, bring to the boil and remove immediately.
- After that, take 7-10 asparagus stalks and steam until tender.
- Now it's time for the sauce. Place the washed cowberries (around 200 g) in a saucepan. Beat with a blender until smooth. Bring the cowberry puree to a boil and add sugar to taste, plus herbs, ginger and lemon zest as desired. Boil on low heat for 10 minutes. It's better to make the sauce beforehand to give it time to infuse and thicken.
- Lay portions of reindeer meat on a pillow of mashed potatoes and pour on the hot sauce with porcini mushrooms. Add the asparagus stalks, and garnish with cowberries and cowberry sauce.
4. Stewed pearl barley with reindeer, mushrooms, sauerkraut and cowberries
Katya Mun, founder, V Svoey Tarelke (“In One’s Element”) Arctic cuisine cafe, Kirovsk, Murmansk Region + Ilya Maksimov, Director of photography for the people's television of Khibiny and gastro-enthusiast
Being the most widespread and cheapest cereal in Soviet times, pearl barley was often fed to soldiers. The founder of the first Arctic cuisine cafe in Russia’s polar region explains how to make a gourmet dish out of it.
How to prepare
- Wash pearl barley (1 kg) and soak in cold water for five hours.
- Pour vegetable oil (150 g) into a saucepan with thick sides and place on high heat. The oil should be very hot so that the venison instantly forms a crust.
- Dry the reindeer meat (1 kg) with a paper towel, cut into large pieces, put in the saucepan and start frying.
- Cut onions (300 g) into half rings and add to the fried meat. Together with the onion, add garlic cloves slightly pressed with a knife and a handful of grated juniper berries.
- Cut carrots (300 g) into long strips and add to the meat and onions. As soon as the carrots become fried and tender, reduce the temperature and add water to the pan to completely cover the meat and vegetables. Add salt, pepper, grated juniper berries and leave the dish on low heat for 40-50 minutes.
- Cut porcini mushrooms (200 g) into strips and fry with the remaining onions in butter. Add the mushrooms to the meat without mixing and pour the washed barley onto the mushrooms.
- Make sure that the barley is level before carefully adding hot water so that it covers the cereal by about 1.5 cm. As soon as the water boils, reduce the heat to medium. When the water has nearly boiled away, add red hot pepper (1 pod) and a small branch of rosemary to the barley and sprinkle with juniper berries ground with salt.
- Spread the remaining butter over the surface of the dish, close the saucepan tightly with a lid and place on very low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 15-20 minutes. Gently mix the barley, then serve with sauerkraut and cowberries.
5. Reindeer heart on bilberry spelt
Svetlana Kozeiko, brand chef, "Tsarskaya Okhota", Murmansk
Deer heart is tender and delicate with a silky texture. To feel its natural taste, cook it rare.
How to prepare
- Soak the heart in cold water for 3 hours to remove excess blood. Cut out the inner partitions and chop into steaks. Roast in a mixture of butter and vegetable oil — with the addition of thyme sprigs — on each side for 2-2.5 minutes. Lay the heart on a paper napkin.
- Next, prepare the bilberry cream. For this, boil the berries (500 g) until softened, grind with a blender and run through a sieve. Add water (50 ml) and sugar (50 g) to the mass.
- To make the spelt garnish, boil the cereal (120 g per serving), add cream (50 ml, 33% fat), as well as bilberry cream (20 g) to the porridge.
- For decoration, thoroughly dry a small amount of the cooked spelt and fry in hot fat until crisp. Lay out on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
- For an aesthetic serving, drip bilberry cream onto a plate, spread out the spelt garnish, place the deer heart on top and sprinkle with the crispy spelt.
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