This post is made in partnership with TINE.
The 6th of February is samenes nasjonaldag, the national day for the Sami. The Sami are the northernmost indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.
The Sami diet is characterized by a lifestyle that’s reflective of their closeness to nature. They live by a ‘nose to tail’ diet where every part of the animal is used, including the hooves. Reindeer is their livelihood, along with berries and fish.
In honor of this day, it’s common to celebrate with a meal made of reindeer. So, I’m sharing this recipe for Norwegian Brunost toasts with creamy reindeer and mushrooms. It’s a twist on the classic finnbiff, a creamy reindeer stew with mushrooms and a few slices of brown cheese thrown in the sauce. Rather than serving it as a stew, it’s thickened and served on top of toasted bread enveloped by a generous amount of melted Brunost slices. You get the salty, punchiness of Brunost in each bite that pairs so well with the earthy reindeer and creamy mushrooms.
The reindeer meat that is used here and in finnbiff is shaved or thinly sliced (reindyrskav), which is a more ancient way of cutting reindeer meat. It’s possible that this way of cutting the meat was to reduce the need for tenderizing. It could also have been for faster drying and salting. The Sami have followed this tradition for thousands of years, scraping meat from the neck and shoulder while it was frozen. It provides a quick and nutritious snack that can be easily prepared over a fire or at home.
Shaved reindeer can be found throughout Norway, but if you can’t access it you can substitute venison, moose, or even beef. Be sure to use thin strips. Also, it’s not necessary for the meat to be frozen or semi-thawed before adding it to the pan even though this is ideal for the shaved reindeer.
As mentioned above, you can substitute the reindeer with venison or moose and even beef if you have no other options. For a vegetarian option, you can take out the reindeer completely. Enjoy these scrumptious toasts with fresh herbs and some lingonberries, if you have any.
Brunost Toasts with Creamy Reindeer and Mushrooms
- Butter, softened
- 4 large slices of bread, such as sourdough or farmhouse
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 shallots, diced
- 9 ounces (250 g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 10 ½ ounces (300 g) frozen shaved reindeer meat
- ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
- 5 juniper berries, crushed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Ski Queen®/Gudbrandsdalen
- Fresh parsley or thyme
- Lingonberries (optional)
Spread a good amount of softened butter over both sides of each bread. In a large frying pan, add the bread slices and toast over medium-high heat for a few minutes, turn over, then toast the other side until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on a baking sheet.
In large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. When the butter has melted, add the reindeer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until browned. Return the mushroom mixture back to the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Add the heavy cream and juniper berries and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat a broiler.
Top each toasted bread with a layer of Brunost slices. Place the breads under the broiler, keeping a close watch, and heat the toasts for 1 minute or until the Brunost begins to melt and bubble. Remove from the broiler and transfer to individual plates.
Divide the reindeer mixture evenly among the Brunost toasts and garnish with fresh parsley or thyme and a few lingonberries, if desired. Serve immediately.