This post was originally published on December 3, 2010. Re-posted today for Eat Alberta. I chose buffalo jerky for this year’s Eat Alberta tasting board because of the significant role that similar preparations played in the history of this province. Please read The Story of the Buffalo for more information.
Jerky is my nominee for best representation of southern Alberta by a single food preparation. This is partly because of its historical connection to the buffalo hunt and ranching, but also because it takes advantage of the arid landscape. In dry regions jerky can safely be made on hot days, when the temperature is around 30°C, simply by leaving the sliced meat to hang outside.
What Meat to Use.… Continue reading.
Liver’s robust flavour is perfect in dumplings, that humble but satisfying dish that was once made with left-over bread, milk, and eggs. I was able to pick up some buffalo liver from First Nature Farms last week.
First I cut the liver into pieces and seared them on high heat. I set the liver aside, sweated onions in the same pan, then deglazed with vinegar and water.
For moisture and body, I added leftover bread heels soaked in milk. I used eggs to bind the mixture, dried bread to tune the consistency, and finsihed with salt, pepper, and thyme.
The ingredients were then forced through the hand-cranked meat grinder above, at left, which used to belong to my grandmother. This … Continue reading.
A simple variation on the brine and boil theme.
The rule of thumb for brining hams is a half day per pound of meat. Tongues seem to take a week for the brine to penetrate, even if they only weigh two pounds. This could be because the meat is dense and fine-textured, but that’s only a theory.
As is easy to imagine, the tongue is a highly exercised muscle. It contains lots of connective tissue that moist heat dissolves into delicious, succulent gelatin. As such tongues are almost always boiled.
I had just made some good buffalo stock, so I decided to braise this particular tongue. I didn’t expect braising to affect the tongue much differently than boiling; I just … Continue reading.
When I first decided to make pemmican, I thought the process would be simple: make jerky, pound jerky, render fat, combine. In practice, there were a couple hiccups, but the results were surprising.
In the finest pemmican, the dried meat was pounded until it became a powder. I started grinding pieces of jerky with a mortar and pestle. It worked, but I realized it would take days to process a useful quantity of meat. I eventually found a rock and a solid piece of earth, wrapped the jerky in cloth and pounded it out. You could probably blitz the meat in a food processor and obtain similar results.
With my meat powder made, I ran into a problem:
… Continue reading.
How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?
-Ernesto Geuvara, in The Motorcycle Diaries
Eating the Buffalo
The poster-beast for the nose-to-tail movement is the pig, and I have devoted the last few years of my life to learning some of the near-countless preparations of that animal. I’ve cured hocks, bellies, and hams, stuffed intestines (“casings”), boiled trotters, skin, and bones to make stock, rendered fatback to make lard, made black pudding with pig’s blood, and tried my hand at making headcheese.
For some reason I only recently related the bison meat at the market to the buffalo I learned about in history class. Only recently did I recall a teacher telling us that the … Continue reading.