Flash forward to the current chapter of exotic, foreign living, now in Fairbanks, AK. I havve since given up the strict vegetarianism, preferring what my sister-in-law instead calls "flexitarianism." I'll eat meat, but I don't favor it.
However, I have come to appreciate quality and healthy food--whether that means organic and/or local produce, preservative-free products, and good, lean meat and wild-caught seafood. Our good Fairbanks friends, the Martalleros, include Brent, the premier Alaskan hunter. He hunts the big stuff--bear, Dahl sheep, moose, caribou--the old-fashioned way, with a bow and arrow. So when they offered us some of their freezer spoils, this former vegetarian had to do a little research on how best to prepare them. Below are 3 recipe that I've cooked over the past couple of months. Some Mexican friends will swear by the "albondingas de caribu" (meatballs), and our neighbors (seasoned Alaskan carnivores themselves) proclaimed the moose roast and caribou steak "exquisite."
Caribou Meat Balls
ready in: 30-60 minutes
• 1 pound ground caribou
• 1/4 pound ground pork
• 1/4 cup quick oatmeal, bread, or cracker crumbs
• 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 cup ketchup OR 1 egg, BLENDED WITH 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl; shape the mixture into small balls, using a teaspoon of meat mixture for each. Cook in a skillet over medium heat in a little hot fat. Turn frequently until brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce and slices of unbuttered French bread.
Garlic Rosemary Moose Roast
Author: Melissa Baker (adapted from Canadian Living)
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 90 mins
Total time: 1 hour 40 mins
• 3-4 lb moose roast (beef is acceptable if you don't have moose)
• 7 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
• ¾ tsp (4 mL) pepper
• 1 tsp (1 mL) dried rosemary
• ¼ cup (50 mL) red_wine
• 1.5-2 cups (500 mL) sodium-reduced beef broth
• 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose_flour
• ⅓ cup feta or blue cheese
1 Place roast on a rack in roasting pan (ensure your roasting pan isn't too big so your drippings don't spread out too much and burn, you can add a little water and oil to the pan to help prevent this). You can also add onion and celery to the pan to help flavor your gravy.
2 Mash garlic with salt; stir in oil, ½ tsp of the pepper and rosemary. Spread all over roast.
3 Oven-sear roast, uncovered, at 450°F (230°C) for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 315°F, roast for 80 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140°F (for medium-rare -- recommended) or 155°F (for medium).
4 Transfer to a cutting board; tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. This ensure the juices don't run out of the roast when you cut it - and it is the perfect time to make the gravy with the drippings and throw biscuits in the oven.
5 Place roasting pan over medium-high heat (or pour drippings into a pot, scraping the bottom). Add wine, whisking up brown bits. Add broth, vinegar remaining pepper; bring to simmer, stirring. Whisk flour with ¼ cup COLD water until smooth; whisk into pan.
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat, add cheese and simmer for about 3 minutes or until thickened. If you're using salty feta be sure to use no/low salt beef broth or the gravy will be really salty! Serve on roast with warm biscuits
Grilled Caribou Steaks
Marinate Time: 24 hours
• Caribou steaks, 1/2" thick
• Bacon fat or lard
• 1 1/2 cups Red Wine
• 3 Tbsp Oil
• 1/8 tsp ground Ginger
• dash Hot Pepper Sauce
• Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Combine all the basting sauce ingredients in a large zip-lock bag. Marinade the caribou steaks for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove steaks and reserve the marinade sauce. Put the steaks on a board and pat it dry, then rub them all over with the fat or lard.
Heat the grill to medium-high and cook the steaks until medium-rare. Baste with the reserved sauce while cooking and turn once. When done, transfer the steaks to a warmed serving platter, and serve with the remaining sauce in a sauce boat.