Reindeer meat stew with mushrooms (renskav)

Take a trip to Lapland with this reindeer stew with mushrooms. Renskav is a traditional reindeer meat dish prepared by the Sami people in Northern Europe. Thinly sliced reindeer steak is cooked from frozen with mushrooms and cream. A delicacy from the Arctic, and a healthy meat dish to enjoy year round.

But first, let me start this post with a beautiful picture of a reindeer I captured shortly after I moved to Sweden, while exploring my home region of Dalarna.

Single reindeer with big antlers against overcast sky. Dalarna, Sweden.

Reindeer meat

Reindeer meat is one of the healthiest meats you can find. Very lean and rich in vitamins and fatty acids, it has long been the main nutrient supply in the diet of the people of the Arctic. In fact, reindeer meat is so healthy it’s been compared to fish for its nutritional values. Reindeer herding is rather limited geographically, and there is no intensive breeding. So reindeer meat is rightfully on a more exclusive side. But it is commercially available especially frozen.

Northern Europe is an easy place to buy reindeer meat. In Sweden I find it in supermarkets quite easily. Larger stores usually have a separate freezer with meats from wild animals in various cuts. But even medium-sized grocery shops may carry frozen reindeer. The most common packaging consists of thinly sliced meat that goes by the name of renskav.

Renskav consists of thinly sliced reindeer meat. It usually is from the back of the animal, and might not always be from the same cut. This is the meat you need to make sautéed reindeer with mushrooms, and renskav often refers to the dish as well.

Renskav as a dish

Thinly sliced reindeer meat, renskav, is cooked from frozen. The first time I saw someone preparing this dish for me (one of my Uni teachers here in Sweden, actually) I was fascinated. It turns out that cooking from frozen is the traditional way to prepare renskav. Reindeer herders in Lapland store reindeer meat under the snow to preserve it. Meat is then cut in thin slices and added to the pan frozen. Thin slicing allows to use even the chewier cuts of the animal, ensuring no part of it goes to waste.

Traditional renskav consists of reindeer meat fried in reindeer fat over an open fire. Despite being a traditional dish from the northern part of Sweden, it has spread all over the country. The most common way to prepare it is with butter or oil. Onion and mushrooms – in particular wild mushrooms such as chanterelles when they’re in season – are udually sautéed with the meat, then stock and cream are added to make a sauce.

Reindeer stew with mushrooms (renskav) served with a creamy gravy.

Reindeer stew recipe

Here’s my renskav recipe as I learned to make it from my Swedish teacher. The only variation I have introduced is the use of white wine, which is not common in the traditional Sami recipe. But as the dish spread throughout the country, a splash of beer or wine became a common addition.

So here are the ingredients needed to make reindeer stew with mushrooms:

  • Renskav, thinly sliced reindeer meat, frozen
  • Mushrooms of choice, I have used small button mushrooms but chanterelles are fantastic too
  • Shallots
  • Olive oil
  • Game meat stock reduction (or a beef stock cube dissolved in little water)*
  • Cream
  • White wine, can be subbed with ale beer
  • Black pepper
  • Breadcrumbs, for thickening.
Thinly sliced reinder meat (renskav) that is cooked from frozen.
Thinly sliced reinder meat (renskav) is cooked from frozen.

*If you don’t have a stock concentrate for wild meat, you can use liquid beef stock concentrate. If you can’t find any stock concentrate at all, you can dissolve a beef stock cube in 1/4 cup water and use that. If you’d rather not use a stock cube but stick with the natural fond we’re producing, add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp juniper berries to your sauce.

Step by step instructions

  • Heat up a large pan and add the oil. Mince the shallots and add them to the oil. Sweat the onions on medium heat until tender; lower the heat if they start browning.
  • Add the sliced reindeer meat from frozen, or just lightly thawed so the slices separate easily. Sauté the meat on medium-high heat 2-3 minutes, using a spoon to separate the meat slices as soon as the heat allows.
  • Increase the heat to high and pour in the stock concentrate and the white wine. Stir to distribute and cook 2 minutes.
  • Halve or quarter the mushrooms (I prefer to use small mushrooms and just cut them in half) and add them to the meat. Add a sprinkle of black pepper. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and let cook for 15 minutes.

Reindeer meat and mushrooms cooking with white wine.

  • Pour the cream into a small bowl. Take a few spoonfuls of the natural broth the meat is cooking in and stir it into the cream. Pour the cream mixture into the pot and stir. The addition of the warm broth will prevent the cream from separating, something that may occur when adding cold cream directly into a hot dish.
  • Add the breadcrumbs and stir in. Lightly increase the heat to evaporate the excess liquid and cook 5-10 more minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

About the game meat stock concentrate

When sautéing the meat at the beginning of the recipe, a natural fond develops. Put very simply, fond is made from the brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan (for a more technical read I recommend “What is fond?” by Food52). Those are like small particles of big flavour.

When we add the wine the bottom of the pan deglazes, bringing those flavourful brown bits back around in the dish. Now, this reindeer stew consists of meat and mushrooms in a creamy gravy. To make the gravy we would be adding some stock. But the mushrooms release quite a good share of water, plus we added the wine and will add cream. So we don’t want more liquids. This is why in this recipe I use a stock concentrate, in liquid form or a stock cube.

Viltfond, a stock concentrate used in game meat dishes.
Liquid stock concentrate for game meat, with a scent of juniper.

Here in Sweden there is a wide choice of liquid stock concentrates. They go by the name of fond, although technically they’re fond that’s been deglazed and turned into a concentrate. Since wild meats are quite popular, there is a game meat fond which is perfect for this kind of preparations as it has some flavourings (such as juniper) that pair very well with wild meat. This is the stock concentrate I have used in my reindeer meat stew.

How to serve the reindeer stew

The most common side to renskav in Sweden is lingonberries and mashed potatoes. A very classic side dish, often also served with Swedish meatballs. Honouring my north-Italian background, I like to serve my reindeer stew with polenta. Here are some side dish ideas:

Renskav with mushrooms and polenta on the side.

Did you ever try reindeer meat? Was it a fillet or a stew? Or maybe a sausage? I remember finding reindeer sausage at Ikea in Italy, my first taste of this exclusive meat. Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to pin this recipe for later use.

Reindeer stew with mushrooms in a creamy gravy. Renskav is a traditional Sami dish that has become popular all over Sweden. Thinly sliced reindeer meat is cooked from frozen together with mushrooms to make this delicious reindeer stew, perfect to serve on a winter day.

This recipe was originally published in 2015 and has been updated with new pictures in December 2020.

Reindeer stew with mushrooms (renskav)

Renskav is a traditional Sami dish that has become popular all over Sweden. Thinly sliced reindeer meat cooked with mushrooms in a creamy gravy.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Sami, Scandinavian
Keyword game meat, meat stew, reindeer meat, sami cuisine
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 413 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 500 g reindeer meat thinly sliced, frozen
  • 500 g mushrooms
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp liquid stock reduction
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 120 ml cream
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat up a large pan and add the oil. Mince the shallots and add them to the oil. Sweat the onions on medium heat until tender; lower the heat if they start browning.

  2. Add the sliced reindeer meat from frozen, or just lightly thawed so the slices separate easily. Sauté the meat on medium-high heat 2-3 minutes, using a spoon to separate the meat slices as soon as the heat allows.

  3. Increase the heat to high and pour in the stock concentrate and the white wine. Stir to distribute and cook 2 minutes.

  4. Halve or quarter the mushrooms (I prefer to use small mushrooms and just cut them in half) and add them to the meat. Add a sprinkle of black pepper. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and let cook for 15 minutes.

  5. Pour the cream into a small bowl. Take a few spoonfuls of the natural broth the meat is cooking in and stir it into the cream. Pour the cream mixture into the pot and stir. The addition of the warm broth will prevent the cream from separating, something that may occur when adding cold cream directly into a hot dish.

  6. Add the breadcrumbs and stir in. Lightly increase the heat to evaporate the excess liquid and cook 5-10 more minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional information is based on an estimate. This recipe yields 4 portions if served together with a side dish, otherwise it would be enough for 3 people.

Nutrition Facts
Reindeer stew with mushrooms (renskav)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 413 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 145mg48%
Sodium 151mg7%
Potassium 887mg25%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 441IU9%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 62mg6%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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3 Comments

  1. mmelling23 August 31, 2015 at 00:08

    Wow, something I have always intended on cooking and tasting! Unfortunetly Portugal has no raindeer xD plenty of pork though!

    Reply
    1. Eva August 31, 2015 at 07:13

      Keep it in mind if you ever visit a Nordic country. Or, as you said, pork should work well, too!

      Reply
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