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Swedish dinners: Suovas/Smoked reindeer

Swedish dinners: Suovas/Smoked reindeer
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  • Swedish dinners: Suovas/Smoked reindeer

    Post #1 - February 4th, 2009, 4:28 am
    Post #1 - February 4th, 2009, 4:28 am Post #1 - February 4th, 2009, 4:28 am
    Suovas are a delicacy firmly rooted in the heritage and culture of Sweden's indigenous Sami. Additionally, suovas are the first (and one of only two) Slow Food Presidia products attributed to Sweden. In other words, special stuff.

    Searching the links above, you'll quickly read that suovas officially refer to the dry-salted, cold-smoked (in an earthen hut and probably with birch) "inner loin" of the reindeer. I'm not too happy with the Swenglish "inner-loin" term used by Slow Food. It's actually the same cut I recently used for preparing steak tartare(with beef) and seems to be a part of the bottom round/eye of round.

    One quick word about the word "suovas". It simply means "smoked" in the Sami language and therefore is applied to any part of the reindeer that has been smoked. However, for the rest of Sweden, suovas refers to this particular cut of reindeer. Suovas is also the word that normally is used to described the finished dish even though the finished dish can be anything from a stew to a kebab-like roll. It's a pretty vague term.

    I stumbled across some frozen suovas the other day at a speciality store in Stockholm and knew I had to make a batch.

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    This piece was a whole cut, weighed about one pound and cost (using today's exchange rate) about 20 bucks.

    Ingredients:

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    Dried winter chanterelles, an onion, the frozen suovas, creme fraich, beef stock, about 10 juniper berries and a pinch of thyme. If I'd have had more time and thought of it, I'd have made game stock from the frozen carcasses I'd saved from my ptarmagin dinner.

    Start by letting the suovas defrost slightly. Slice the meat across its grain and thinly.

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    Get a pan hot, throw in a knob of butter...

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    ... and brown the meat:

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    Remove the meat from the pan when it has browned/is cooked.

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    Strangely, it isn't until the meat is cooked that the smoke ring becomes visible...

    Lower the heat in the pan, add the minced onion and perhaps a little extra butter.

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    Scrape the crusty bits off of the bottom of the pan as the onions saute.

    When the onions have softened and browned, add the meat back to the pan...

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    ... and add the stock, spices and mushrooms:

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    I went ahead and reconstituted the mushrooms a little in the warm stock to speed things up a little. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the stew simmer for about 10 minutes.

    After 10 minutes, add the creme fraiche.

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    Stir and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

    Ready to serve:

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    And served:

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    The suovas are, as expected, wonderful. The smoke flavor is pronounced and the salt in the meat is ample to not require any extra salt for the entire dish. The texture of the meat is, well, not unlike other cured meats and slightly tough. In good, chewy way, though. I wasn't more than two bites into dinner before I reached for the jar of lingonberry preserves as the sweet tartness of the preserves acts as a perfect offset to the rich, smoky stew.

    All in all, an excellent dinner. Although, considering the limited availability of this delicacy, one you'll probably just need to take my word for...
  • Post #2 - February 4th, 2009, 7:09 am
    Post #2 - February 4th, 2009, 7:09 am Post #2 - February 4th, 2009, 7:09 am
    Great post and as usual great pics to accompany! Is suovas ever eaten "raw?"
  • Post #3 - February 4th, 2009, 7:25 am
    Post #3 - February 4th, 2009, 7:25 am Post #3 - February 4th, 2009, 7:25 am
    Thanks JayK!

    I'm sure that suovas can be eaten raw. Also, I'm thinking that there must be different types of suovas and/or differing degrees of smokiness. The batch I had was close to raw in consistancy and was obviously cold-smoked. Suovas is made in mostly closed earthen huts, though so I'm guessing that pieces hanging close to the fire are more warm-smoked than cold-smoked. I'm sure that stuff would be great simply thinly sliced and eaten on a sandwich.

    Dried reindeer meat is also a product that is available. It's simply been salted and dried and is, well, reindeer jerky, I suppose.
  • Post #4 - February 4th, 2009, 9:26 am
    Post #4 - February 4th, 2009, 9:26 am Post #4 - February 4th, 2009, 9:26 am
    Yay! A new Bridgestone post! Always makes for a good day.

    Beautiful stuff, Bridgestone - if we're really motivated, it's possible to try this: caribou (or reindeer) is available from exotic meat purveyors, though you'd have to smoke it yourself.
  • Post #5 - February 4th, 2009, 9:36 am
    Post #5 - February 4th, 2009, 9:36 am Post #5 - February 4th, 2009, 9:36 am
    Bridgestone - from halfway across the world you have given me a new idea for the wild Illinois venison (deer) loin I have in the freezer from last fall's successful hunt.

    I already make a carpaccio of venison loin (not smoked) by allowing it to thaw slightly and slicing ultra-thin, serving with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and capers, but the idea of cold-smoking, thin slicing and then cooking (!) in such a manner hadn't occurred to me. The thin slice and short cooking time would obviate any concerns over toughness (since wild venison has no internal fat) - something that is always a concern.

    As usual - BRAVO! Your posts are just wonderful.

    Davooda
    Life is a garden, Dude - DIG IT!
    -- anonymous Colorado snowboarder whizzing past me March 2010
  • Post #6 - February 4th, 2009, 9:47 am
    Post #6 - February 4th, 2009, 9:47 am Post #6 - February 4th, 2009, 9:47 am
    Thanks you two!

    Let me know if you need any help with recipe specifics or otherwise.
  • Post #7 - February 4th, 2009, 6:27 pm
    Post #7 - February 4th, 2009, 6:27 pm Post #7 - February 4th, 2009, 6:27 pm
    Very interesting, and all the more so since my brother is right now in Jokkmokk for the annual Sami reindeer fair. I suspect, however, that in deference to his vegetarian wife, no red meat will be consumed. Clearly unfortunate!
  • Post #8 - June 24th, 2015, 3:22 am
    Post #8 - June 24th, 2015, 3:22 am Post #8 - June 24th, 2015, 3:22 am
    It's actually stunning Bridgestone, actually I belong to India so I have not seen this type of food before. I love the technique that you put in to make this food and I really want to try this it at my home, thanks for everything and also for motivating.

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