Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Reindeer sliders

We don't really have any particular heirlooms in the family. But we do have a recipe for traditional Nordic flat bread, rieska, that has been devoured and loved for generations. I, too, used to be in the possession of it and I remember it being cherished in my kitchen too. At some point, however, I lost the recipe. Luckily there's more to Facebook than stalking Sasha Baron Cohen so I was able to reach back to the great women of the family. The effort paid off and I was awarded with the recipe for "the best rieska in the world". But the instructions, etched in the fingertips of all those generations before me, were every bit as vague as can be expected:

1 l water and another of buttermilk. Liquid must be warm.
about half a sachet of dry yeast
1 tsp bicarb
2 tsp salt
barley flour 1/3 of the total quantity and regular all purpose flour the rest
The oven should be as hot as possible.

Even high on nostalgy I had the sense to cut the portion in half - when a Northeastern mother of 14 gets cracking with baking, the quantities needed are somewhat different from sliders that my urban needs called for. But crikey, there was dough! 

I was up well into the night baking away with tears running down my cheeks (both out of sheer exhaustion and the smoke coming out of my oven, cranked up to the maximum). I'm glad (my voluntary rescue service activist Dad might have a differing opinion on that one) I had decided to get rid of the smoke alarm...

I remember my Nan baking these in the massive wood fire oven they had and the instructions state that the temperature should be as high as possible. My oven only goes up to 250 (what kind an oven does that?!), which apparently is a bit of a problem. The key to achieving soft rieska is the coldness of the dough combined with very, very hot oven where the bread is supposed to bake only until the brown spots start forming in the surface. Since my oven didn't go as high, the baking time was inevitably longer and the end result was tougher. The taste was as I remembered, but they certainly gave our cheeks a workout!

Since then we have had another Northern addition to the family: my sister's husband. Who owns reindeers. Through him I've come to some reindeer mince. The plan was to turn it into those oh, so trendy sliders a.k.a. miniburgers. With a Northern twist. Reindeer mince is so lean that I was advised to mix it with a fattier mince such as pork. I fried some chopped up pork side and added it (along with its fat) into the mince. I also added some capers for extra omph. The sliders were built with thinly sliced red onions, a couple of leaves of baby spinach and cranberry mayonnaise. Oh, my. OH, MY they were good. Though as we went for seconds (and thirds and fourths...) we decided to do without the rieska. My Nan might have done ok without her own teeth- not so sure we would

The sliders were served with rosemary potato wedges that I wanted to roast in the oven with duck fat. But couldn't find any. So, I did them in oil instead. But damn, they taste fine...


appr. 600 gr reindeer mince
3 large slices of toast
1 dl stock
1 large onion
5 slices of side of pork (or bacon)
1 heaped tbsp small capers
salt, pepper

Soak the bread in stock. In the meanwhile fry the bacon over moderate heat until the fat starts seeping out. Fry the finely chopped onion in the fat and add to the bread mixture. Add mince and capers, season well and let rest in the cold for about half an hour. Then shape into burgers of desired size and fry in the pan. The portion makes about 20 miniburgers.

Cranberry mayonnaise

1 dl mayonnaise
(Either make your own or happily settle for a good store bought one. A.k.a. Hellmans)
a little less than 1 tbsp good cranberry jelly
(I used Baxter's. Which comes with Hyacinth Bucket-approved royal warranty)

Mix well. And eat. Insanely good with reindeer. And lamb.

Rosemary potatos

Half the potatos lengthways and then cut the halves in 3. Parboil in salted waterfor about 10 minutes until almost done. Steam until dry. Place oil (or duck fat) in an oven dish and put in the oven. Heat the oven as hot as you can. When the fat is hot, put the potato wedges in. Roast for 30 - 40 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Keep basting to make sure all potatos are covered in fat. Drain on kitchen towel and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly chopped rosemary.

I doubt I'll be dabbling with rieska in the future. But I did take the ingredients and devised a barley roll recipe out of them that I'll happily be using for my sliders from now on...

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