I was fortunate enough to be invited to an event that I’ll link up as soon as some of the attendees post about it. It was a fairly large pot luck comprised heavily of bloggers, and the hostess shared similar pot-luck ethics as I, so it was highly enjoyable. My dish? Cured and smoked tongue of moose. Not your average dish for a pot-luck, for certain. I know a few folks who if served this wouldn’t touch it with a 10-thousand-foot-pole. But that’s okay – I figured that type of folk weren’t invited. It was cut really thinly, and was so approachable that my fussy 3-year-old even popped back a few pieces – akin to a heavily cured and smoked ham. I therefore conclude [right or wrong] that even super-fussy 3-year-olds can be more adventurous than fussy adults!
Cured in dry cure for a week, cooked in a bag under-water for roughly an hour per pound [1.03kg, in this case] at 200C, peeled, rubbed in oil+ sage+oregano, then smoked with applewood for roughly 3-4 hrs. I used a slicer to get it thin. The whole thing worked out exceptionally well. I’d originally planned on finishing with fleur de sel [among other things], which upon tasting was clearly a poor idea, as the week in cure made this more than salty enough. It needed nothing. I settled on serving it plain, paired with a too-young-but-still-appropriate saskatoon wine. Any chance I get to serve wild game meats with wild fruits from the bush where they live, I take.
One thing of note that I will rely on others’ photos for [again, I'll link up shortly]: I cut the tongue in half, roughly, and sliced each half separately. The back and front of the tongue not only are different shapes, the nature of the meat is shockingly different. The front, or ‘tip’ part if you will, was much darker, denser, and uniform in shape. The back ‘throat’ section varied in neat shapes, and almost looked more like a pork product. Interesting.
I just had an unexpected notable ‘moment’. I have long contemplated the concept of ‘what grows together goes together‘ when it comes to the game meats we hunt. It’s a reasonably undisputed culinary rule. So thinking of moose and elk, it has begged the question of pairing it with saskatoons, high bush cranberry, labrador tea, and other similar items you’d find in the bush where the animals live. I’ve given the concept the odd shot, with varied and moderate success. But tonight.
I figured I should get around to bottling my 2009 Saskatoon/Juneberry/Amelanche ‘Batch 2′. It’s been in carboy in the wine cellar since October, and periodic tastings indicated that the theoretic winemaking improvements were paying dividends [details in the linked post]. So into bottle it went, and a half-a-half-bottle remaining was to be tasted:
Nose: big, large volume. notes of wet soil, a pleasant light stink, woodsy – mostly evergreen/junipery with a definite dose of heavy flowers in the rose/lavender vein. Overall fresh, bright, big, and complex. Uniquely saskatoon. Massive notes of intense wild blueberry in the empty glass.
Palate: voluptuous and finely textured – nearly creamy, with a light metallic-style tannin finish. The texture was a shocker, I’d put it into the 92-94 range. The flavor profile is well defined and the oak is well balanced. Saskatoon wine may not be for everybody, but if they do like it, I’d wager a bet they’d like this.
The moment: My fridge happened to contain a previous day’s fire-grilled comparison between tough-2009-bull moose tenderloin vs. calf moose blade steak. Sliced cold with some fleur de sel, with a solidly made saskatoon wine was poetry. Finally.
Because I know it’ll be asked: the bull tenderloin did edge out the calf blade in tenderness, but not by much. which imo, says a lot.
I’ve made a fair whack of jerky, both in the oven and over wood fire, sweet-glazed versions, plain versions, smoked and unsmoked. I’ve recently come across a recipe that’s worth sharing. Not only is it dang tasty, it avoids the onion/garlic powder route which even ‘Charcuterie’ suggests [a rare shortcoming of the book]:
per pound of meat [in this case, very tough 09 moose]:
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried chili [optional]
1 tsp cracked black pepper [optional]
Slice meat thin and most importantly – evenly – while still partially frozen. Mix with marinade ingredients above, and refrigerate for a day or three. Dry via your method of choice. Note that jerky pieces never finish all at the same time, so you have to pull them off as they get to a texture you like.
The reality is that fire makes smoke, and so long as you have a place to put some fire, you’ve got a place to smoke some food. The only other ingredients are some ingenuity and can-do-attitude.
Shots of my outdoor smoking apparatus are here, here, here, and here. Today’s smoking: moose jerky. I found a really good recipe that I can get behind that gets devoured, and I may even post it…soon…maybe.
The other enlightening bit worth sharing is that the wines were rock stars, but were relatively unexciting with food. Perhaps one of the least food-friendly varietals I’ve come across. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. We had smoked jerky. Pepper steak with saskatoon, balsamic, and horseradish on potato. We had charred asian greens with ginger black bean moose on rice. We then moved to Big Turk. Yes, the candy bar. It was perhaps the best pairing of the night with the wines. Unusual pairing award winner: jerky with toblerone and shiraz.
B 2004 Kilkanoon The Covenent Shiraz $40
Far and away the most kick-ass of the bunch for my palate. Has a real gunpowdery, herbaceous, moldy streak that is super funky an huge. It’s a monster on the palate, which normally turns me off, but I just dug this. Caraway, heaviness, and herbs. 96+
C 2005 Rolf Binder Heysen Shiraz $55
Lovely, then kinda flatish. Subtle, earthy, and most elegant style of the bunch. Supple with a pithy finish. Great wine, had tough competition. 93
D 2005 Mitolo Savitar Shiraz $63
THE most candified fruit-bomb I’ve ever encountered on the nose. Grape nerds. Intense fruit in the mouth, gorgeous wine, lovely, big, and dry. A stunner. If the fruit was not so candy-driven, I’d have scored it even higher: 95.
Lastly, this was the first night of the use of a tool that I love my friends and family too much to not employ: the breathalizer. Everyone blew prior to going home. I highly recommend it, and the one I bought is this one. It takes a few goes at it to get a feel for how to time and pace the blow, but other than that, it’s excellent.
Sometimes family from out of town that you rarely get to see are suddenly in town. And sometimes they’re very dear friends that just happen to be family. And sometimes it’s coincidentally their 20th anniversary. And sometimes this happens at thanksgiving. What’s one to do?
Herb and Garlic Brined Roasted Turkey Dinner
2008 La Stella Rosé, Okanagan
Moose loin carpaccio [butchered that day] with BC blue cheese, garden horseradish, garden tomatoes.
2001 Chateau de la Riviere
Moose Kalbi with sesame and leek
Cold pear, Hot Ugandan Vanilla Bean Peach & homemade Butterscotch
NV Yalumba Museum Release Muscat
First wine to pair: 2006 Paul Zinck Riesling Grand Cru Pfersiberg. I’d tasted it at the winery in Alsace, and scored it a 92. Found it here, had to try it. Fortunately, my geek streak left me with tasting notes to help with pairing: lemon and rock predominated on a dry structure.
Smoked salmon gummies on smoked salmon mousse. Still with the white. The texture from the cure was unlike any I’d experienced. Akin to gummy bears. The smoking was done in a flash post-alarm-not-going-off-pre-seminar. 25 minute smoke, so it was light, but the whole worked with the wine.
The denouement of the evening was a few crappy hours of sleep followed by a hungover morning of seminar sessions. In this case, a small price to pay.
1 pack ground calf moose [not trying to be cool, it's just what I got. beef would be awesome too, or any other quality red meat for that matter]
some leftover mashed potatoes [cause I had them, and they and ground meat get along]
a tbsp or so of soy sauce [mushroomy salty + meat = good]
An egg [= glue]
Scant tbsp of fennel seeds or so, ground [personal favorite spice with Italian meat dishes]
Salt and pepper [apply + (taste+adjust)*(until it's right)]
A tbsp or two of flour mixed into some milk [sloppy panade, likely redudant with the potatoes already pitching in some starch binder]
Some home-made tomato sauce [canned tomatoes, few cloves garlic, sugar, and red wine vinegar]
Oh yeah, 100g spaghetti per person.
I know. Totally awesome and original recipe. Gong show ingredient list that by no means needs to be adhered to to make a good meatball. But for whatever reason, when done properly, spaghetti and meatballs rocks my world – again and again. I should start a campaign for real spaghetti and meatballs..