Wednesday, May 22, 2013

HomeStead Eating: Braised Caribou Roast, two ways

We've had braised caribou roast twice in the last fortnight.  The best part about these meals?  I didn't thaw the roasts beforehand, and the cooking time was still pretty reasonable!

The first time, I braised the roast in watered red wine with onions and garlic and herbs: parsley, thyme, basil, bay.  I cooked it our enameled cast iron cook pot, and the liquid was probably halfway up the sides of the roast.  I think it was too much liquid.  It leached out some of the juices of the roast I think, and there was lots of liquid left over at the end.  But though a little dry, the flavor was delightful, and we enjoyed it thoroughly with mounds of brussel sprouts.  They were on sale at Fred's and it is distinctly possible that I came home with almost 5 pounds of them.  I like brussel sprouts.  A lot.

The second braise, I cut way way down on the liquid.  I slathered the still frozen roast with a local mustard made with roasted peppers and pilsner from the local brewery in Fox (the one I pass every day on my way into town).  I only put less than half an inch of water in the cast iron skillet with a splash of balsamic vinegar for depth.  I covered it with a lid and let it braise while I got the rest of the meal ready.  When the mustard started to slide off of the top of the roast and into the pan, I whisked it into the liquid, and turned the meat over.  The bottom was nicely seared, and roast itself swelled to almost twice its frozen size.  Sweet potatoes baked in the oven, and collards sautéed on the stove as I made a pie crust.  The collards were sliced in thin ribbons and sautéing in olive oil with garlic and balsamic vinagre, my default preparation for both kale and collards.  I tasted them though, and noticed that they were evincing the bitterness peculiar to brassicas that have spent too many days in the refrigerator.  In a moment of pure brilliance, I decided to try countering this with a tablespoonful of the "5 pepper jelly" (made with green and red peppers, Serrano, habanero, and jalapeno) which my father-in-law had left with us when they left for Hawaii.  I stirred the jelly into the collards and mushed it against the side of the pan so that it mingled with the oil and vinagre into a saucy coating on the greens instead of hanging out in globs.  It did WONDERFUL things for the collards, both the hint of sugar to counter the bitter and the hint of pepper to pull out depth, but even more than that, the pepper flavor complemented the roasted peppers in the mustard and pulled the meal together phenomenally.  I look forward to trying the same combination with moose.  The roasted pepper mustard played off of the slight gaminess of the caribou in a way that made it deeply palatable.  Sometimes I find moose a little too gamey straight up, so I'm eager to see if this preparation pulls together a similar flavor meld with moose.  And the braised meat this time was still full of its own juices and the liquid in the pan cooked down to a lovely reduction sauce.  I topped the meat with carmelized onions, to be just a little gourmet with the meal.  The plum and cherry pie we had later did not match the flavors of the meal, but was way too delicious on its own and was made out of fruit I canned and had in the pantry.

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