IN NORWAY, shaved reindeer meat melts into a creamy juniper-spiked mélange of bacon and wild mushrooms in an ancient dish called finnbiff. Our version uses venison from a deer but otherwise adheres to Norse tradition—including the use of brunost, a caramel-sweet whey cheese. Many large supermarkets stock it—look for the Ski Queen brand—but if you can’t find it, just substitute a spoonful of brown sugar. To slice your meat thinly enough, firm it up in the freezer for about half an hour first. (For bonus authenticity points, you can use a vegetable peeler to shave a hard-frozen roast.) Lingonberries are the Nordic cousin of cranberries, and the latter work fine; canned or jarred, look for whole berries, not the jellied version.


  • 1 lb. venison roast, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ lb. high-quality bacon, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, more as needed
  • ¾ lb. wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, shiitake, and/or maitake
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 12 juniper berries, crushed and chopped
  • 2 oz. Brunost or Ski Queen brand Gjetost cheese, sliced (optional; see note above)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Boiled potatoes and jarred lingonberries (or cranberries), for serving
hand holds meat steady as it's being thinly sliced on cutting board sitting next to pay of mushrooms, plate of cheese, and bowl of berries
Partially freezing the venison before you begin cutting it will allow you to get razor-thin slices. Christopher Testani; food and prop styling by Roscoe Betsill


1. Add the bacon to a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is golden and sizzling but not yet crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a bowl.

2. You should have at least a tablespoon of fat in the pot. (If not, add a knob of butter or some oil.) Raise the heat to medium-high and add about half the sliced venison, letting it sit and sear for about 30 seconds before stirring it vigorously, as with a stir fry, until just a bit of pink remains, maybe a minute more. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon and repeat with the remaining venison.

3. Add the butter and, when it’s melted, the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are browned and beginning to sweat their juices. Add the stock, cream, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and juniper berries and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and let it gently bubble for 12 minutes.

4. Return the bacon and venison to the pot along with the cheese and sour cream, stirring to melt the cheese and incorporate the sour cream. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Stir this into the stew, a splash at a time, until the stew liquid thickens into a saucy consistency. (You may not need all of it.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Serve over boiled potatoes. Some bright red lingonberries spooned on top add an earthy bittersweetness. Serves four

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