This small breed is very rare, but has a few admirers in the Jamtland region of Sweden, where it resides on just a few farms such as Raftsjöhöjdens Gårdsmejeri. Jamtland is increasingly becoming known for internationally unique cuisine, including cheese, so this hardy little landrace may stand a chance of surviving. Once tens of thousands of Svensk Lantras could be found in Sweden, but now it is considered a threatened breed (landrace). There are less than 2,500 of these goats in the world, with 120 of the living at the farm mentioned above. One of the owners, Gunilla Andersson is not going to give up the goat anytime soon, since their cheeses are sold all over the country. Besides, she says “It’s incredibly fun to work with such intelligent animals as goats”. Go Gunilla!
“It is a shining, delicious treasure of food produced in small scale on farms and in small communities. A hand-made work of art, with products of a special nature and flavour. Products that can tell a story, a legend. A richness that makes us proud. The people behind the products are important.”
This quote from the Eldrimner Center for artisanal foods says it all. This area is becoming increasingly famous for both traditional Scandinavian fare and the more unusual Sami foods, which are the staples of the indigenous reindeer herders. The center itself makes a great first stop for foodies touring the region. Visitors to the region should stop there first and maybe even sign up for a 2-day tour of the local artisans’ operations. As part of the tour, a visit to a creamery that produces the famed ‘cellar matured goat cheese’ (that’s what it’s called, it doesn’t have another name), will be included, goats and all. Contact the center at www.eldrimner.com
Cellar matured goat cheese is the delicacy that keeps all of the Andersson’s and a few other farmers goats in winter hay.
This photo is courtesy of Slow Food, who provided a great deal of publicity on this endangered taste from an endangered breed.
The artisanal nature of this relatively simple cheese is found in the pasturage as well as the process. Each producer’s cheese is made unique by the elements of the summer pasture on which the goats graze as well as the natural molds of the old stone aging cellars.
This cheese comes both salted or unsalted. The brick-shaped cheese forms are matured on wooden boards in stone-lined earthen cellars and emerge with uniquely colored rinds, courtesy of the local molds that live in that particular cellar. It takes up to 7 months to produce a cheese full of character, and if cured for a full year it acquires a slightly spicy taste. And now on to the recipe portion of things. The recipe below is a delightful fusion of Sami and Scandy traditional ingredients.
Reindeer Stuffed With Swedish Goat Cheese topped with Rosemary and Portwine Sauce
Head Chef Jens Seitovaara of the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in the Lappland of northern Sweden has created this dish. If you don’t have any reindeer steaks handy, I am sure a de-boned leg of lamb would do just fine. It’s hunting season here in Colorado just now as I write this, so for us, elk or venison might also be a tasty substitute for reindeer. My own goat cheese will ripen to 3 months of age next week, and since I am not good at delayed gratification, I am going to cut into a round and see if it will work for this recipe with thinly pounded elk steaks, rather than waiting another 2 months.
600g smoked Reindeer meat , or smoked veal or venison (1.3 pounds)
200g Cellar matured goat cheese, or other firm goat cheese (1/2 pound)
50g Butter (3 tablespoons)
8 Basil leaves
Cut the reindeer meat into 8 pieces and pound out the meat with a meat hammer until very thin. Cut goat’s cheese into 8 pieces and add to each piece of meat a leaf of basil. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Fold meat into a roll and hold together with a toothpick if necessary. Alternatively, you can pound out the entire piece of meat and add the cheese and basil evenly across, then roll it up like a burrito. You will need to secure the log with 8 pieces of culinary twine, both to keep the roll intact and to preserve the presentation of the individual slices the way the photo above shows.
Melt butter in a pan, add meat and brown on all sides. Then place in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes at a temperature of 300 degrees.
2 tbsp Olive oil
4 cups meat stock
1.5 cups port wine
2 tsp tomato puree
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
Fresh Rosemary sprig
Peel the shallots, cut finely and fry gently with olive oil, pepper, and the tomato puree. Add the thyme, bay leaves, and port. Reduce heat to half. Add the meat stock and lower the heat to a simmer. Reduce the sauce by ½, stirring every five minutes or so. Then, using a slotted spoon, scoop out any solid bits such as herbs and shallots. Reserve them for vegetable soup another time.
Using kitchen shears cut the larger bottom leaves off of a generous sprig of fresh Rosemary, making sure to cut each leaf in half. About ½ way up the stem, just strip the leaves off with your fingers. At least that’s how I do it. This way you don’t end up with any one bite of this dish tasting like an infusion of medicinal strength rosemary essential oil.
Ät hjärtligt! (Eat Hearty)