#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Take venison – what could be tastier? And most important thing, it is more useful. The Norilsk woman knows a lot of recipes for its preparation.
Cutlets, sausages, roast meat, venison dumplings… Galina Kovalenko, who came to Norilsk in 1982, highlights northern cuisine.
“In my opinion, reindeer have the most delicious meat among wild animals”, Galina notes. “Perhaps because these animals themselves are great gourmets. Reindeer love young shoots and buds rich in vitamins, fresh leaves, lichen, so their meat is very tender and healthy. They are always on alert and on the move, and therefore do not tend to accumulate fat. Their meat is lean compared to pork or beef – about 100 calories per 100 grams. Therefore, venison is considered a dietary meat. In addition, it is enriched with vitamins C, B, A, iron, does not contain harmful cholesterol”.
One of the chef’s favorite recipes is venison medallions with lingonberry sauce. The dish is simple to prepare. You need a reindeer tenderloin for it. The meat should be washed in cold water, cut and, in order to completely get rid of the blood, soak in dry mustard diluted in a small amount of water for half an hour. Alternatively, you can soak the venison in milk.
Then prepare the marinade. Among its essential ingredients, the chef calls juniper – berries or bush twigs. You can start harvesting them in the fall. However, our chef has her own secret – Galina Kovalenko buys dried berries… in a pharmacy.
“Juniper is usually used as a spice with a peculiar aroma and tart taste, so juniper is an invariable seasoning for game dishes. Its berries contain essential oils to aid digestion. You can also add rosemary, pepper, other herbs and spices to the juniper, even a drop of soy sauce – depends on your preferences. We leave venison in the marinade for three hours, or even overnight. After that, the meat becomes softer, juicier and acquires a lightness and freshness of taste due to the delicate aroma of pine needles that juniper gives it”, the chef explains.
Next, beat off the meat and fry for a few minutes on both sides in a grill pan with a small amount of vegetable oil. Medallions are brought to readiness in an oven at a temperature of 180 degrees.
“It will take about twenty minutes, no more. It is important not to overroast the meat: excessive heat treatment will make it tough”, adds the chef.
The classic venison is served with lingonberry sauce. That is no coincidence: the sour taste of northern berries add to the unique flavor and piquancy. The sauce recipe is pretty simple. The berry is boiled in red wine with various spices – cloves, pepper, coriander and a little sugar. The mixture is whipped in a blender and rubbed through a fine sieve – that’s it, the sauce is ready. A few lingonberries can also be left to decorate the finished dish.
“Each chef has his own recipe for lingonberry sauce. There are many variations. How do I find interesting combinations? In our profession, you need to constantly develop. Therefore, I subscribe to specialized magazines, go to other restaurants to try what they cook there. I watch the Hell Kitchen program with great interest. I like to improvise. I can say, for example, that in addition to lingonberries, it is also good to add blueberries, sour apples to deer meat. Each recipe will be tasty and original”, says Galina Kovalenko.
The side dish for the medallions can be any – boiled or fried potatoes, vegetables, including grilled. However, our chef opted for a fresh cucumber and Chinese cabbage leaf. At this time of year, the Norilsk people need vitamins, she reasonably noted.
For more recipes using authentic Taimyr products, see our Taste of the North section.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: Alexander Ulyanov