Arctic reindeer shank, oven cooked with mashed potatoes

Inspired by local produce from the Arctic nature, traditional production methods and old recipes adapted into everyday life at 70 degrees north, Bjørg Alvestad presents this mouthwatering reindeer recipe. After making, be sure to follow him on Instagram for even more delicious recipe inspiration.

MyArcticKitchen is located in Finnmark in the Arctic region of Norway. We don’t have wild reindeer here, so there is no hunting, but we do have around 150,000 so called tame reindeer, a Sami tradition that comes from the 15th to 16th century. Reindeer husbandry is still today driven by Sami tradition and by Sami people in “Siida.”

Even though we say that the reindeer is tame, it grazes freely on heather and reindeer lichen, and move between summer and winter pastures. Early in the spring the flock moves to the coast where they will be all summer during the midnight sun, before moving back to the fells on the inland in the fall and winter pastures in the dark season. The reindeer is slaughtered in the fall when it is at its peak after summertime.

It’s a long and good tradition to use everything on the animal, and for those who do not have their own herd, we buy it directly from Sami Siidas, and of course we got the whole reindeer. Some of it we eat directly, some of it we salt and hang to dry – like the heart which is a true delicacy.

Serves: 4 (calculate 1 shank per person)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 hours


First, set the oven to 175 degrees. You must have a pot and lid that can be used in the oven.

For the shanks:

Melt the butter, and let it brown lightly, fry the shanks quickly and season with salt and pepper. Take them out of the pan and immediately brown the vegetables.
Put the shanks on top of the vegetables and pour the stock or stock mixture over. Put the pot in the oven, leave for 3-5 hours.

When the shanks have finished cooking, remove from the pot, pack them in foil and keep them warm as you sift the vegetables from the stock. Put the stock back into the saucepan, boil it and add the crème fraîche. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired. Put the shanks back into the saucepan, replace the lid but don’t heat this time, and leave for 15 minutes before serving.

Served with a good mashed potatoes, possibly some steamed vegetables and Arctic lingonberry jam – as we do in Norway.

arctic reindeer recipe

For the mashed potato:

Boil the potatoes in water until soft, for about 25 minutes. Drain out water and add the butter. Mash the potatoes and butter together with a masher or wooden spoon, but never a mixer (unless you want it rubbery).

When the butter has melted, add the cream and stir until it has the consistency you want, add more milk if you wish for it to be more airy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


For the shanks:
4 reindeer shanks
About 8 dl stock (or enough liquid to covers 3/4 of the shank in the pot). Alternatively you can use a half and half mixture of stock and a dark beer.
50 g butter
1 carrot in cubes
1 celery in cubes
1 onion in pieces
15 juniper berries, crushed
3 laurel leaves, dried
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 dl cream fraiche
If needed, use some balsamic syrup, sugar, or sweet soy sauce to adjust the sauce before serving
Salt and pepper to taste

For mashed potato:
About 500 – 600 grams of potatoes, peeled
100 grams of butter
3 dl full fat cream
(1-2 dl milk)
Salt, pepper

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