Following on from my story about Moose Hunting in Norway (Elgjakt), here is a recipe for elggryte, a traditional moose stew utilising the flavors of the forest. Gryte means pot in Norwegian, and what better way to cook in the colder months than with everything stewing together in one pot.
The mountainous regions of Norway are famous for moose and other types of venison. These meats are used in a variety of dishes such as karbonader (meat patties), kjøttkaker (meatballs), pølser (sausages), and spekemat (cured meats). Stews are a great way to tenderize the meat and concentrate the flavors. They are warming and filling, and easy to make. Best of all, they cook together in one pot and can be made both indoors and outdoors.
It is common in Norway to make a viltsaus (game sauce) to add to the stew. This is usually flavored with brunost (brown cheese) and einbær (juniper berries). Vegetables such as turnips, celery root, potatoes, carrots, and onions are added and reflect what is on hand and what is seasonal.Wild mushrooms make an excellent addition as well as lingonberries and blueberries. Nothing quite celebrates the forest more than a warming stew with a variety of wild ingredients that is cooked over an open fire in the middle of nature.
Elggryte (Moose Stew)
(Serves 4-6 people)
- 500g (1.1. lbs) moose steak, cut into chunks (you can subsitute with other venison)
- 2 Tb butter
- 2 Tb oil
- 1 large onion
- 2 large carrots
- 200 g (2 2/3 cup) wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles
- Blueberries or lingonberries (optional)
- 60g (4 Tb) butter
- 60g (½ cup) flour
- 1 litre (4 cups) stock (see recipe)
- 2 dl (0.8 cup) heavy cream
- 6 juniper berries, crushed
- 4 slices brown cheese (brunost)
In a large pot, melt 1 Tb of the butter and 1 Tb of the oil together. Place the moose meat in the pot and brown on all sides.
Once the meat has browned, pour water in the pot until it just covers the meat. Add one carrot, cut into large pieces, and half of the onion, cut into four quarters. Simmer on low for about 1 hour. Remove the pot from the heat and take out the vegetables and discard. Strain the liquid and keep for use in the viltsaus. This will make a nice stock equal to about 1 litre/4 cups. Place the pot and the meat to the side.
Begin making the viltsaus. In a medium sized pan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is starting to foam, add the crushed juniper berries and flour and whisk continuously. Stir until you get a nice, deep brown color, this will take a couple of minutes. Be careful that the heat is not too high or a burnt flavor may develop. Once the flour mixture has browned, slowly pour in 1 litre/4 cups of the reserved stock, whisking constantly. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add in some salt, the heavy cream and brown cheese slices. Stir together and simmer for another couple of minutes. Take off the heat.
Take the meat out of the large pot and put to the side. Add the remaining 1 Tb of butter and oil to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Chop the remaining ½ onion and carrot and add to the pot and sauté. After a couple of minutes, add the wild mushrooms and continue to sauté until the vegetables are softened but slightly firm. Add the meat and the viltsaus back into the pot and stir together. Season with salt. Cook for some minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
When ready to serve, top with blueberries or lingonberries and a little thyme. Serve with boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes.
*Feel free to use vegetables that you have on hand. Parsnips and celery root go great as well.
*For a slightly easier version that requires only one pot: brown the meat together with the onions and vegetables and season with salt, pepper and some crushed juniper berries. Cover with a nice stock and simmer for half an hour or so. Add wild mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes. Add some heavy cream and a couple slices of brown cheese. You can thicken the sauce with a slurry made of cornstarch and water. Serve with potatoes and berries.