You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen... but did you know that they're all absolutely delicious? People the world over feast on reindeer year-round, and for many cultures, Rudolph is the main course on Christmas. So, in honor of each of Santa's hoofed helpers, we've unearthed eight tasty preparations for reindeer that you can actually find in restaurants or make at home. And before calling morbidity, remember that you also eat eggs on Easter. You monster.
Embrace the Elements With Fire & Smoke Burgers
Jerky Where to find it: The Reindeer Ranch in Kalamazoo, Michigan; pretty much every country store in a deer-heavy area
Santa's gotta munch on something for energy while flying around, and subsisting on cookies alone would result in a sugar crash. So why not just use the remains of the original Dancer, who got put down last year, and make some amazing and lean jerky?
Reindeer Heart Tartare Where to find it: Chicago's Nellcôte; Bambi's nightmares
The Grinch's heart may have grown three sizes, but it has nothing on Dancer's, which is just generally huge. So use it to whip up some delicious tartare, topped with one of the geese a-laying's eggs from that horrible song!
Meatballs Where to find them: They've been knownto drop on the specials menu at New York's Meatball Shop, plus on plates throughout Denmark, Sweden, and Finland
Reindeer meat's a mainstay at the Swedish Christmas feast, so it's really no surprise that Prancer often ends up in meatball form. His antlers, on the other hand, might be on sale at Ikea on Boxing Day.
Reindeer Roast Where to find it: Seasonally at wild game restaurants throughout the Midwest, or order your own via Bur Oaks Red Deer, then say you shot it yourself
Reindeer has a lot of the same qualities as cow, but you don't get a name like Vixen by being covered in fat (unless maybe you're a day-shift stripper). That's why roasts are a great choice for preparation; the process keeps all the gaminess and juice in tact, but unlike, say, prime rib, it's got only a fraction of the fat.
Stew/Soup Where to find it: Rippinen Wild Game in Kuusamo, Finland; Gunnels Krog in Stockholm; pretty much any hunter's camp in Canada or Alaska
Stews and soups are the best way to maximize Comet's carcass, as you get to make a stock from his bones and excess meat. There are dozens of variations, but the folks in Greenland do it proper with the awesomely named Suaasat, which is pretty much just meat and potatoes but not American somehow.
Reindeer Sausage Where to find it: More or less every general store, bar, and game shop in Alaska; Beez Neez Gourmet Sausages in Portland, OR
Cupid probably didn't get his name from his ability to produce hot, thick sausages, but that's something that has endeared him to Alaskans, who feast on a variety of reindeer sausages ranging from salami to brats and hot dogs.
Reindeer Steak Where to find it: Boston game emporium Prezza; fancy-pants LA joint Craft; Ted Nugent's freezer
The tastiest preparation would have a certain reindeer contemplating a Donner Family scenario, with the gamey, tender, and ultra-lean meat serving as perhaps the most well-loved meat you'll ever remove buckshot from.
In countries and states-that-are-kinda-countries like Finland and Alaska, it's inevitable that important foodstuffs get canned, which's why you can score Blitzen's cousins in cans in most groceries and, if you've left the fjords and permafrost, online. Because it just isn't Christmas without the cast-off sinew and meat scraps of your favorite holiday icons.
Andy Kryza is Thrillist's National Eat/Drink Senior Editor, and has proudly lived vegetable-free since 2001. Follow his adventures/slow decline via Twitter at @apkryza.