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Ethical Eating

We Ate Reindeer Over the Holidays: Why You Should Too

We know a lot of chefs over here at Clean Plate Charlie.

So when we get a crazy idea in our heads, we know who to contact.

Just before Christmas, we decided we wanted to get some ideas on how to eat Santa's favored mode of transportation for the holiday. And yes, we're fully aware that our sense of humor is slightly morbid.

To help us drum up some ideas, we reached out to The Dubliner's executive chef, Greg Schiff, who is quite the wild game enthusiast, to walk us through different ways of preparing reindeer.

Little did we know at the time that he would take that idea and run with it; after hanging up the phone with us, Schiff ordered up some reindeer sausage and stew meat to whip up in the restaurant.

Obviously, we had to get in on that; we dined on reindeer right around Christmas. As disturbing as it may sound -- sorry, Rudolph -- it's actually a more environmentally friendly, healthy, and humane animal protein to eat than anything you'll find in your corner grocery store.

See Also: Reindeer Meat for Christmas: Four Ways to Eat It

To take out some of the gamey taste from the meat, Schiff created a dry rub with rosemary, smoked sea salt, and peppercorns before adding it to the stew of onions, carrots, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and parsley.

In terms of flavor and texture, it could probably be compared to venison or even grass-fed pasture-raised beef: firmer and gamier than regular corn-fed beef found in supermarkets, but by no means overpowering.

Obviously, reindeer is a slight departure from the normal "American diet," but that's what makes it a better option from an ethical point of view.

Most of the reindeer you'll find for purchase is semidomesticated; for centuries, Arctic and Subarctic people have been raising and herding them as free-ranging animals feeding on a natural diet of grasses, herbs, and lichens. They live on the tundra, eating, walking around, and pooping, thereby fertilizing the ecosystem.

The vast majority of reindeer roam free until the day they are killed for consumption.

Sure, it's Blitzen, but there are cultures that regularly dine on reindeer, such as the Norwegians, who consume about 300 grams a year. And, because it is not industrially farmed, in comparison to the cow that created the McDonald's burger you ate for lunch today, it's like comparing a death row inmate to someone who dies suddenly in an accident.

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Sara Ventiera

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