High-spirited game

Cynthia Stone
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If you don’t care for moose or caribou, take a look at these recipes anyway — they work perfectly with a cheap cut of beef. If you do enjoy a nice hunk of game now and again, ’tis the time of year, and nothing spruces up a browsy piece of meat than booze.

Today’s dishes make plenty for a crowd — especially the burgoo — but they freeze well.

Moose pot roast braised in beer

When you’re done with the first few panfuls of moose and onions, give this dish a try. It’s what you do with that big chunk of roast you were too tired to cut into steaks.

If you’ve never used five-spice powder, it’s a great addition to your spice cupboard. It adds a magical touch of anise flavour to any meat, but goes especially well with game.

Just a note about cooking with beer. Apply the wine rule — if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

Flavour intensifies with braising so lots of hops will make the resulting sauce quite bitter — you might want to avoid pilsner or dark lager, for example.

If you don’t care for beer at all then consider substituting dry red wine.

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. each ground cumin, coriander and five-spice powder

4 lb. roast of moose

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 cups (2 cans or bottles) beer, preferably dark ale such as porter or stout

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes

4 fresh or 6 dried bay leaves

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch lengths

1 medium turnip, peeled and cubed

2 cups thawed frozen baby green peas

Whisk together flour, salt, pepper and spices. Roll meat in flour mixture, rubbing to coat thoroughly. Shake off excess flour but don't throw it away.

In a Dutch oven, brown roast on all sides in oil over high heat. Remove and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pot if necessary and add onions and celery. Cook, stirring, five minutes or until soft and golden.

Stir in reserved flour, brown sugar and garlic and cook another minute or two, just until fragrant and there are no white streaks of flour.

Stir in vinegar, beer, tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until sauce is thick. Return roast to pot. Cover and bake at 325 F for two hours.

Add carrot and turnip and roast another hour. Stir in green peas at the last minute and serve with boiled or mashed potatoes or egg noodles — something to soak up lots of the delicious gravy.

Caribou whisky burgoo

Like Mulligan stew, burgoo is a mélange of whatever is on hand. Google it and you’ll have at least a thousand recipes at your fingertips.

This version is my favourite, and by far better with caribou than any store-bought meat. If you wish, however, use all beef and it will still be delicious. Add lamb, chicken or any other meat you like — it is difficult to ruin this dish.

The original recipe called for lima beans and bourbon but I prefer kidney beans and whisky — pick the combination of your choice.

If you hate okra — as many apparently do — leave it out.

I know it’s a massive list of ingredients but the result is worth the effort. Relax with a glass of whisky and enjoy swapping tall hunting tales with your friends.

1/3 cup flour

2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 lb. roast of caribou

1 lb. pork side ribs

1 lb. beef steak — round works well

1/4 cup vegetable oil (divided)

2 large yellow onions, chopped

2 large stalks celery, thinly sliced

1 small can tomato paste

1 whole head of garlic, the cloves peeled and coarsely chopped

6 cups cold water

2 cups dry red wine

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

6 fresh or 10 dried bay leaves

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup dried white kidney beans (or other dried beans)

2 lb. small red potatoes

2 lb. peeled and coarsely chopped carrots

1 lb. coarsely chopped turnip greens (or cabbage)

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 (or more) jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

2 cups corn kernels, canned or frozen

2 cups okra, sliced into 1/2-inch wheels (frozen or fresh if you can find it)

1 cup whisky

1/4 cup each bottled steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp. hot pepper sauce (or to taste)

Whisk together flour, salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly on caribou, ribs and steak. Brown the meat separately in the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven; remove and set aside.

Add onions and celery and fry until they take on a little colour. Push them to one side and add tomato paste. If the pot is dry add a little more oil.

Fry tomato paste until it is starting to brown and coats the pot. Stir in garlic and cook another few seconds. Add water, wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and return meats to pot.

Rinse beans thoroughly. Soak for two hours or bring to a boil in a small pot of water. Discard soaking or cooking water and add them to the big pot.

Simmer, loosely covered, on low heat about 3 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender and the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove meat from the pot and cool long enough to handle.

Add potatoes, carrots, turnip greens, red pepper and jalapeños to the pot and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the meat with your fingers or two forks. Return it to the stew along with corn, okra, whisky, steak sauce and Worcestershire.

Simmer together another 20 minutes, until mixture is creamy and thick.

Some burgoo experts say you should cook it until you can’t differentiate any of the ingredients. I prefer to know what I’m eating.

Discard bay leaves and thyme stalks. Stir in parsley and hot sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in

St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her

c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL,

A1E 4N1.

Organizations: Google, The Telegram

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