Come va Rodolfo? Smoked reindeer and mushroom gnocchi


Holiday!! Two weeks of well deserved annual leave for me. I like my job a lot, but the prospect of not having to get up at 5.50 to join the car park on M4 en route to Abingdon for two whole weeks fills me with happiness. Also on my last day at work a pigeon pooped on my jacket - really, I wouldn't have thought that a particular risk in a quiet office job. But one got in our London office, couldn't find his way back out, got all flustered and pooped everywhere including on my jacket which luckily was hanging at the back of my chair not on me.

I will be going to Finland and husband will join me with his kids for some of the time. We'll do a boat trip to Sweden as well and then spend time at my brother's lakeside cabin and my parents house in the country and their island cabin in the beautiful lake Päijänne.

I am already planning what to bring back, reindeer and moose of course but other things as well that are difficult to get here. I still have some meat left in the freezer that I brought when I last went in March, so I made a tasty reindeer and mushroom gnocchi dish to get us in the mood for our Nordic adventure.

smoked reindeer slices

I was originally planning to do this with smoked moose, which would have also been lovely, but decided to go with reindeer in the end.

I obviously can't blog a reindeer recipe without including a weird Lapland fact or a reindeer story. There was earlier a story about Aatu, the reindeer who loves Heartbeat, runaway lawn mowing reindeer Viljo, who was never found and Maija, the police reindeer who got overrun on her traffic duty.

This time I thought I'd introduce the traditional distance measure Poronkusema. It loosely translates as Reindeer's wee.  It is the distance a sleigh pulling reindeer can travel before having to take a comfort break. They can't run and wee simultaneously or maybe they just think it would be uncivilised so they never do. Apparently it's about 4.6 miles, 7.5k. About the same as for Paula Radcliffe. A proper Lapland man might still use the measure today, but officially they have gone metric and poronkusema is not included in any navigation apps, road signs etc. I think we are the poorer for it.

In the south of the country the term is sometimes used when the person doesn't know exactly how far something is.

I don't know what the above mentioned proper Lapland man would say about gnocchi, probably nothing suitable for printing, but they look a bit like the Lappish "puikula" dwarf potatoes, so maybe I would be forgiven.

This recipe is a simple combination of basic things that always work with reindeer. Herbswise I went with the famous Simon and Garfunkel herb mix omitting the parsley, just because I hadn't bought any and my own parsley is a bit pathetic this year. But feel free to add it, it will work well here.
And if you can't find smoked reindeer, only place in UK I have seen it is IKEA, you can use other smoked meat.

Smoked reindeer and mushroom gnocchi

Reindeer and mushroom gnocchi recipe (serves 3)

4 shallots (or 1 yellow onion)
3 cloves of garlic
Half a red capsicum
150 gr mushrooms
1 tbsp fresh sage
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 cup water or game/beef stock
50g soft cheese
100 gr smoked reindeer
500g gnocchi
1 tsp truffle oil (optional)

Cook the gnocchi according to pack instructions. I promise one of these days I will make my own gnocchi from scratch, but the ready made fresh gnocchi will do just fine for a week day meal.

Chop the shallots and mince the garlic, slice the capsicum and mushroom, chop the herbs, slice the reindeer meat. Heat oil in a pan, fry the onions for a couple of minutes, add the garlic and continue frying, add the capsicum, mushroom and herbs and cook until all vegetables are done.

Add a cup of water or stock (I used the cooking water from the gnocchi with a bit of game fond), the soft cheese, salt, pepper, truffle oil and the reindeer meat. Heat through and check the seasoning.

Dinner table with reindeer gnocchi and a green salad

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