As the leaves change colour and days grow crisper, we naturally turn to dishes that give us warmth and comfort. And for many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, this time of year also signifies the start of hunting season and the anticipation of filling our freezers with moose, caribou, rabbit, partridge or grouse.
Throughout history, game has been peasant fare, providing substantial simple food that kept families going. It was usually prepared without fuss as a roast, steak, sausage or stew. However these days, around the world, there is a culinary return to the formerly less glamorous types and cuts of meat - and game is certainly starring on some pretty fancy menus. The roots of the dishes are in tradition, but the preparations are varied, interesting and even exotic.
This month, our feature recipe combines moose with partridgeberries in a dish that oozes comfort but also tantalizes your taste buds with interesting flavour combinations. We have taken tourtière, a traditional French-Canadian meat pie usually made with ground pork, to new heights using ground moose instead and serving it with homemade partridgeberry mustard. It's wonderful to serve with salad for lunch on a cool day, or with boiled or roasted local root vegetables as a delicious dinner.
Moose Tourtière with Partridgeberry Mustard
For the crust, use your favourite pastry recipe or try this quick food-processor method:
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cold butter, cut into half-inch cubes (keep cold until ready to use)
½ cup cold margarine, cut into half-inch cubes
1 tsp salt
In a food processor, whiz together flour with salt. Drop in butter and margarine. Pulse just a few times to start chopping the butter. Then through the feed tube, slowly dribble in, while pulsing, 3-4 tbsp ice water. Keep pulsing until pastry comes together into a shaggy ball - but don't over process, you'll toughen the dough. (Open the lid partway through the water-adding process to test the dough; adjust by adding more water as needed.) Remove from processor - don't knead, just pat together into a ball. Cut the dough in half and on a lightly floured board, roll one half of the dough into a circle a little larger than a 9" pie plate. Fit the pastry into the pie plate, letting an inch or so of dough hang over. Let chill in the fridge while you roll out the other half of the dough into a circle of about the same size. Lay it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap and put in fridge also. (Chilling pastry makes it nice and flaky!)
1 medium potato, boiled and mashed
1 lb ground moose
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary (or ½ tsp dried)
¼ tsp each ground allspice, cloves and dry mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 tbsp Newfoundland berry wine, such as Rodrigues Barrens Blend or Auk Island's Nautica (alternatively, use any red wine, or water)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp four
In a large frypan with 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter, fry onion until softened; add moose and fry, breaking up as you go, until three-quarters cooked. Add oil or butter as needed. Add garlic, herbs and spices and fry a few minutes more, then add flour. Fry, stirring, until browned (a few more minutes). Deglaze pan with wine. When liquid is nearly evaporated, remove from heat and add potato. Remove from pan to cool 10-15 minutes or so. Remove pastry from fridge to warm up enough so that it's pliable (about 5-10 minutes). Pack filling into pie crust and place on pastry top. Press edges together and tuck them under. Flute the edges with your thumb and forefingers or press them with the tines of a fork. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes until crust is golden.
Serve with Quick Partridgeberry Mustard. Here's how to make it: Mix together 3 tbsp partridgeberry jam, 3 tbsp grainy mustard, 1 tsp wine vinegar, a pinch each of garlic and onion powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so to allow flavours to blend. Serve with tourtière.