Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Make Your Own Ojlmsfjaegger

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
 We at the Blickbild have been innundated with letters and e-mail asking us for recipes for ojlmsfjaegger. As every Norwegian knows from earliest childhood, ojlmsfjaegger are special treats that are served for a person's birthday. Ojlmsfjaegger are pickled reindeer hearts covered in a chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. They are loved by children and adults alike. Since we at the Blickbild do not have any Norwegians on our staff, we decided to send one of our intrepid reporters to Norway to learn all about ojlmsfjaegger. Our reporter met with injured Norwegian skier Kjetil Jansrud, who shared his grandmother's special ojlmsfjaegger recipe with our readers. He also gave us his secret tips for making perfect ojlmsfjaegger that everyone will love.
BB: First of all, Kjetil, we at the Blickbild want to wish you a speedy and full recovery from your knee injury.
Jansrud: Thank you. It will be a long road, but I should recover fully. Grandma's ojlmsfjaegger will be a big part of my recovery plan.
BB: Aren't you only supposed to eat them on birthdays?
Jansrud: Every day is someone's birthday, right? (smiles)
BB: That's true. In most countries people eat cake, ice cream, or other sweets on their birthdays. How did Norway come up with eating reindeer organs with fish sauce and chocolate?
Jansrud: Not just any reindeer organs, just the hearts. You have a lot to learn about Norwegian party cuisine.
BB: I evidently do.
Jansrud: In Norway we have a lot of reindeer and salmon. We pickle the reindeer organs to preserve them, even though we now have refrigerators and freezers. Smoked salmon is also one of Norway's national foods. Someone a long time ago had the idea of combining pickled reindeer hearts with smoked salmon.  A little bit of chocolate added to them gives them just the right amount of sweetness. Every family has its own variation on the basic recipe.
BB: What is Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger recipe?
Jansrud:  Grandma starts with a small to medium sized reindeer heart, which has been pickled in brine for at least six weeks.  Then she cuts the heart into cubes that are approximately one centimeter on each side. Reindeer hearts normally weigh between one and two-and-a-half kilograms (note to our US readers: that's about 2.2 to 5.5 pounds). But the smaller and medium hearts are the best. The larger ones are tougher and don't taste quite as good.
BB: Where does she get the reindeer hearts? Does someone in your family kill the reindeer or can you get reindeer hearts at the supermarket?
Jansrud: She buys them at a local butcher who sells the freshest meat in Norway. There are also jars of pickled reindeer hearts already cut into cubes that you can buy at a supermarket, but they aren't the same. You can even get reindeer hearts that are frozen in brine at the supermarket, but they are awful! If you want good ojlmsfjaegger, never buy frozen reindeer hearts.
BB: In most other countries reindeer aren't as plentiful as they are in Norway. Can someone substitute a beef,  deer, or moose heart because of the unavailability of fresh reindeer hearts?
Jansrud: I wouldn't do it. That sounds terrible! I would imagine that the taste of the hearts would be different and then it wouldn't be real ojlmsfjaegger. I'm not sure how they would mix with the smoked salmon and chocolate sauce.
BB:  What comes next after the reindeer hearts are cut into cubes?
Jansrud: Then we make the sauce. You need a big pot because the reindeer hearts will be put into the pot after the sauce is made. It's the best way to ensure that every side of the heart cubes are covered in sauce.
BB: Tell our readers how Grandma makes her sauce.
Jansrud: First she takes about 250 to 300 grams of smoked salmon and liquifies it in the blender or food processor. Grandma's smoked salmon is the best because she has her own smoker.
BB: Does the salmon have to be home-smoked, or can you use store-bought smoked salmon?
Jansrud: Home-smoked salmon makes the best ojlmsfjaegger. I have had it with smoked salmon from the supermarket, but it was not as good as Grandma's. Then Grandma puts 250 grams of butter and 250 grams of chocolate into the pot and melts them over low heat. When the butter and chocolate have melted together, she adds the salmon and stirs it all together.
BB: Does it matter if you use milk or dark chocolate?
Jansrud: I eat ojlmsfjaegger with either type of chocolate. But the secret to Grandma's ojlmsfjaegger is the butter. She uses reindeer butter instead of butter from cows. You can really taste the difference.
BB: I see. What happens when the sauce is ready?
Jansrud: Then Grandma puts the reindeer heart cubes into the pot and stirs them gently until they are all covered in sauce. You don't want to stir them too hard or they will get smashed. After the cubes of reindeer heart are covered in sauce, they are taken out of the pot one by one and placed on a plate or sheet of baking or wax paper and put into the refrigerator. They must stay in the refrigerator at least two hours to allow the sauce to cool and stick to the reindeer hearts. One of my fondest childhood memories was dipping my finger in the pot after all of the ojlmsfjaegger have been removed and licking the sauce from it.
BB: It doesn't seem like it takes very long to make ojlmsfjaegger. But women these days have careers and often don't have time to make them. Can you buy them in a bakery or pre-made in a grocery store instead of making them?
Jansrud: The best ojlmsfjaegger are homemade, especially Grandma's. The ones from the bakery are okay, and they will do in a pinch. But the ones from the grocery store have preservatives to keep them fresh on the shelf. Who knows how long they have been sitting in the store? I would never eat ojlmsfjaegger from a grocery store. The fresher, the better.
BB: Did you know that your teammate Aksel Lund Svindal bought Julia Mancuso a box of Milka chocolate hearts and replaced half of them with heart-shaped ojlmsfjaegger?
Jansrud: You go, Aksel! What a true romantic! Actually my teammate Henrik Kristoffersen and I were in on it too. Unfortunately, I had to leave Schladming because of my injury. But Aksel told me that he and Henrik finished making the ojlmsfjaegger hearts just in time. How did Julia like them?
BB: I heard that the box was empty before she left for Meribel and it looks like she survived.
Jansrud: I'm sure she enjoyed them very much because everybody loves ojlmsfjaegger. If she and Aksel get married, she will learn how to make them. Aksel also hates store-bought ojlmsfjaegger. It's also valid grounds for divorce in Norway if your wife can't make ojlmsfjaegger.  Speaking of homemade ojlmsfjaegger, I just happen to have some that Grandma made especially because she knew I was being interviewed by the Boston Blickbild. Would you like to try a piece?
BB: I'd really love to, but I had a very big lunch and am still full from it. But I'll take it with me.
Jansrud: No, you really must try it now.
BB: I'd like nothing better, but I'm having a big dinner tonight and need to save some room for it.
Jansrud: I did this interview with you because the Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business. You're not very intrepid at all!
BB: OK, I'll try it.  (taking a piece of ojlmsfjaegger, then taking three deep breaths)  Here goes! (with eyes closed eats the piece of ojlmsfjaegger). Hey! This is really good! Do you think I can have some to take back to my hotel with me?
Jansrud: Of course. Grandma made a whole batch this morning for me to give to you. OK, I admit that I took a couple of pieces because I just couldn't resist.
BB: Kjetil, I want to thank you for your time and for the ojlmsfjaegger. Tell your grandmother that they are delicious. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters have eaten ojlmsfjaegger and lived to tell about it.

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