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The Reindeer Recipe Book

At my last publication, The Kernel, we published some reindeer cooking tips for Christmas that had readers up in arms. The author, talented young journalist Chris Tilbury, was assaulted by comments from the public for days. Not vegans, incensed at the inhumanity of roasting Rudolph, if that’s what you’re thinking. No: it was Icelandic caribou connoisseurs who said we’d got our culinary advice all wrong.



I am happy to set the record straight on Chris’s behalf: anything above rare is likely to ruin the lean, tasty flesh of one of Santa’s enchanted Cervidae steeds. And, for burgers, we missed an essential sauce combo: minced reindeer meat comes alive with a dollop of béarnaise and some red onion jam. Cranberry sauce is an acceptable alternative if that’s all you have to hand.


Reindeer meet is remarkably versatile and a brilliant, posh alternative to conventional seasonal meats. So if you fancy getting your teeth into Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet or Cupid, you should feel free to experiment. My own inquiries have suggested peppercorn as the ideal drizzling sauce for a nice rare bit of Blitzen–though dining companions reported finding the piquancy of the pepper slightly obscuring; fruit and cream-based condiments are definitely more conventional.


As Chris wrote last year, reindeer meat is highly nutritious yet packs fewer calories and less fat into a 100g portion than turkey does. So why the controversy? In 2010, Lidl had to remove reindeer from its shelves following a public outcry from sloppy-hearted animal rights types, including vegan charity Viva!, who accused the supermarket of “destroying the magic of Christmas.”


(We asked Viva! at the time whether they recommended reindeer meat should be served rare or medium rare, but they declined to provide a recommendation, answering simply: “Are you joking?”)

The truth is that reindeer culls in Norway and Finland are subject to stringent EU controls and closely supervised by public bodies, who instruct local farmers how many of the antlered deer to slaughter and how to do it, to minimise the animals’ discomfort. The only difference between a reindeer steak and a hunk of prime beef is the sentimentality we cling to when it comes to Christmas animals.


Paul Webb from exoticmeats.co.uk says the best way to cook reindeer is grilling or pan-frying, as with beef, though he recommends it be served medium, which contradicts recommendations we received from Icelanders. Breitbart readers are encouraged to try both levels of thoroughness and report back in the comment section so this enduring controversy can finally be laid to rest. Oh, and Merry Christmas!


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