Reindeer sausages are certainly not a new idea in Norway, the Vikings were likely making them as a way of using every part of the animal, to preserve and transport the meat, but it is only recently (the last year) that a fresh line of reindeer sausages has hit the mainstream shelves.
Usually you can find reindeer products in specialty sections of the supermarket, as salami or jerky, or in the frozen section in shavings and steaks. Reindeer meat is more common the further north you go in Norway. Some small commercial reindeer producers sell out of their vans or trailers. However, Thuleford reindyrpølse is the first brand that I have seen sitting in next to the fresh chicken and meat in the supermarket as if they are an everyday item.
Since their arrival on the market, we have had our fair share of reindeer sausage. They have a very gamy flavour, are sweetened by juniper berries and spiced with pepper and nutmeg. Even though they are considered ‘fresh’, they are actually precooked. This means that it is a ‘heat and eat’ item – great for quick dinners when we have after school activities during the week. Being a health conscious mum, I don’t like feeding the family cheap or fake meat, but these pølse are surprisingly healthy. Reindeer meat is very nutritious and has five times more iron than beef – good for the cold winters. Also, sausages have a bad rap with using all the undesirable meat but the way indigenous people survived eating only meat, especially in the north where no vegetables could be sourced under five feet of snow, is by eating all parts of the animal. Only then could they get all the vitamins they needed to digest the food.
In these pølser there is 35% reindeer meat and 35% of beef and pork, and the rest primarily being made up of water and potato flour with some spices. The kids love them. The sausage is very dense and firmer than usual Norwegian pølse, much more hearty, and works well as both a featured or complimentary ingredient. Often the kids prefer the simple reindeer pølse meal – meat and two veg. The dish goes well with gravy and with cranberry or cowberry jelly sauce.
The pølser work great with lapskaus or leftover fårikål – kind of how bacon can add that little burst of flavour to soups and stews. Chopping and frying up the sausage releases the flavour of the meat.
Reindeer pølse has successfully crossed the local to commercial market, but it’s not surprising since pølse is already an everyday food in Norway and reindeer is a traditional food source. I’m sure it won’t be long before the company can change the nyhet (new) to vanlig (regular) on their packaging.