This is the second recipe I’m making using my stash of reindeer meat. After the recent Reindeer Fillet, Porcini, and Lingonberry Bulgur, here’s a triple reindeer tartare, with three different reindeer cuts and preparations: tartare-perfect tenderloin, super-smoky and salty cold-smoked reindeer fillet, and reindeer salami. The first tenderloin and fillet strike a kind of balance together; it’s like seasoning your chopped meat with salt and liquid smoke. Then, the reindeer salami is definitely a different taste from one’s usual pork charcuterie, since it’s made with red meat. It might sound a bit like garnishing your meat with more meat, but the portions are small.
Part of my inspiration also came from the reindeer tartare I tried at Knut restaurant in Stockholm. Knut seems to favor game both in its very seasonal, very Swedish menu, and in its rustic decor. The tartare is served with pickled rowanberries, spruce shoot mustard, and porcini mayo — none of which I kept here. But it was also mixed with diced apple, and topped with an egg yolk that wasn’t raw but cured, and I kept both of these ideas. The apple’s moisture-releasing properties compensate for the dry mouthfeel that raw chopped red meat can sometimes have (the same holds true for the diced onions, tomatoes, and pickles which one typically finds in tartare). As for the egg yolk, curing it in salt makes it firm without cooking, retaining the same rich taste as the raw stuff, as well as the very attractive bright orange color.
For the rest of the recipe, I’m mostly sticking to the same Northern Russian theme as last time. Even the marinated mushrooms are returning, although this time they’re chanterelles rather than porcini. And potato, here in the form of thin chips, is always a safe way to Russify your food.
Finally, there’s my chive and olive oil texture… I can’t quite remember how it came to be, but I must have decided that the dish needed something green. I love chives, and they pair beautifully with many of the other elements on the plate. At the same time, I thought the tartare could use a drizzle of oil. I could have just redone my beloved chive oil, but I wanted to have a thicker texture, because… well, because why not? Enter one of molecular gastronomy’s darlings, the glycerin flake. Glycerin flakes aren’t some new kind of breakfast cereal, and don’t even contain any glycerin — they’re actually mono- and di-glycerides, and they have the ability to thicken oils, among other things. You can buy some from Modernist Pantry here. It took me a few tries to get the result I wanted, which means that my chive and olive oil “texture” looks like sad, greasy green puddles in most of my pictures. By the time I got it right, of course, I didn’t have any reindeer left.
The result is a visually stunning dish that departs from canonical tartare recipes in every aspect, except for the chopped meat. I urge you to give it a try, albeit replacing the reindeer with a more readily available red meat.
You may also think it would be nice to have some kind of bread with this… but you’ll have to wait until my next recipe post!
Cured egg yolk
Yields 4 servings
150 g kosher salt
150 g sugar
4 egg yolks
- Combine the salt and sugar, and pour half of the mixture into a bowl. Place the four egg yolks on top, keeping some space between them, and bury completely with the rest of the salt and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 days, to taste (more time produces a yolk that’s firm throughout, while less time leaves the center of the yolk very slightly runny).
- Take the yolks out of the salt and sugar, and rinse under cold water for about 1 minute. Pat dry with paper towels, and reserve.
Chive and Olive Oil Texture
Yields about 8 servings
65 g extra virgin olive oil
60 g canola oil
8 g glycerin flakes
20 g chives, coarsely chopped
1.2 g salt
- Place the olive and canola oils in a saucepan, and add the glycerin flakes. Gently warm over low heat until the flakes dissolve, stirring constantly. Pour into a plastic container, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
- Transfer the oil mixture to a blender, add the chives and salt, then process until smooth. Pour back into the plastic container, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Thin potato chips
Yields about 4 servings
300 g peeled large Idaho potatoes
cooking oil spray
- Cut the potatoes into thin, large, round slices using a mandoline. The slices should be only slightly thicker than paper-thin (if they’re too thin, they tend to brown unevenly and too quickly).
- Spray two Silpat mats with cooking oil spray, making two passes. Place the first Silpat on a baking tray, and arrange the potato slices on top in a single layer, leaving space between them (you’ll probably have to proceed in batches). Cover with the second Silpat, and cook in a 120 C / 250 F oven for 45 minutes, rotating the baking tray at half-time for even cooking.
- When taking the chips out of the oven, immediately transfer to a cooling rack, and reserve.
Yields 4 servings
40 g scallion whites
15 g butter
240 g cleaned fresh reindeer tenderloin
80 g cold-smoked reindeer fillet
40 g peeled apple
black pepper, ground
4 drops Worcestershire sauce
8 g olive oil
10 g chive and olive oil texture
- In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the scallion whites in the butter, and let cool.
- Cut the fresh reindeer tenderloin and the smoked reindeer fillet into a brunoise, and transfer to a bowl. Cut the apple into a brunoise as well, and add to the bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper (salt may not be needed if the smoked reindeer is already salty). Add the Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and chive and olive oil texture. Mix with a spatula until combined, and reserve in the refrigerator.
Yields 4 servings
1/2 of chive and olive oil texture
thin potato chips
24 thin slices (about 100 g) reindeer salami
16 medium-size (about 140 g) marinated chanterelles
cured egg yolk
- Place the chive and olive oil texture into a piping bag fit with a decorating tip.
- On each plate, form a circle with potato chips, with an external diameter of about 16 cm. Form a smaller circle with six slices of reindeer salami inside the circle of potato chips, with a slight overlap. Pipe 4 rosettes (or other shapes) of chive and olive oil texture onto the potato chips, and garnish with 4 marinated chanterelles. In the center, use a 6.5 cm diameter ring mold to place a cylinder of reindeer tartare. Top with a cured egg yolk.