There are roughly 200.000 reindeers (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in Finland. They all live up North, in the area which covers one third of Finland. That’s practically the whole Lapland and more. Closest relative to reindeer in North America is called Caribou (Rangifer tarandus).
Size of a male reindeer is typically 3ft 7in (110cm) height and it weighs 200-400lb (90-180kg), whereas female is 2ft 11in (90cm) in height and weighs 133-220lb (60-100kg). Living on arctic circle, reindeer have adapted to conditions, where temperatures can go as low as -94°F (-70°C)!
Reindeer meat is rich in iron, protein, selenium and vitamins. In addition to meat, the heart, liver, tongue and blood are also excellent material for various delicacies.
This recipe is about reindeer stew, in a charcoal grill!
For the stew I use reindeer roast or shoulder. Both cuts call for long cooking, which on 285°F (140°C) means about 3-4hrs. When cooking stew, we use low temperatures and indirect heat. However, this recipe starts with direct heat by searing of meat cubes. You will need a cast iron pan for searing and a cast iron pot for low-and-slow cooking.
Meat for this stew is 2.2lb (1kg) reindeer shoulder.
First thing to do is to remove any silver skin. Second thing to do is to cut the whole shoulder on 1 ½ “ (4cm) cubes. Then sprinkle salt and black pepper all over the cubes and put into the fridge for an hour or two.
Before heating up your grill, it is practical to prepare all other ingredients. Here comes the list:
- 3 shallots
- 3 big carrots cut in 1 ½ “ (4cm) blocks
- 1 parsnip cut in 1 ½ “ (4cm) blocks
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup (2 ½ dl) of red wine
- 1 cup (2 ½ dl) of broth
- few branches of thyme
- 5 whole black peppers
- 5 juniper berries
- Take you reindeer cubes out from the fridge, heat up your grill to 395°F (200°C) and prepare for direct heat grilling.
- Place cast iron pan on top of the burning charcoal and let heat up with splash of vegetable oil on it. Then sear all the cubes well and place in a cast iron pot.
- Continue searing shallots, carrots, and parsnip. Put them into the pot also.
- Switch your charcoal grill on indirect heat. I use ceramic deflector plate.
- Finally, pour all other ingredients into the pot and place it on top of the deflector.
- Adjust the heat down to 285°F (140°C).
- Cook first 30min with pot lid open (grill lid closed) so the stew will get more that fantastic charcoal flavor.
- Then continue for 2 ½ - 3 ½ hrs with pot lid closed.
Timing is not really so critical on this recipe, but longer you cook, softer the root vegetables get. I like mine not too soft, so I keep the cooking time within the instructions given.
Enjoy the reindeer stew with potatoes or rice and glass of your favorite red wine.