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Sarah Palin and Slow Cooker Moose Stew Recipes
Sarah Palin, Moose, and Me
© Roberta Kyle 2008, all rights reserved
Now that Sarah Palin has gone home to Alaska, she’s back in the kitchen, whipping up mooseburgers for the gang and giving interviews to the press. I watched Palin’s perky press conference on TV the other day and I got kind of curious as I saw her ladling out steaming bowls of moose stew to journalists while asserting that “yes”, she did know that Africa was a continent and “no”, she wasn’t a compulsive shopper. Sarah Palin is still doing her beauty-queen, hockey-mom thing and I have to say she’s good at it. I noticed the kitchen too—cathedral ceilings, granite counters, stainless steel appliances and the obligatory center island. It looked big enough to comfortably house a family of four.
My kitchen is about the size of Palin's center island, but I do own a slow cooker and I do like to try new things, so after Sarah’s press conference I logged on and started looking around the web for moose recipes and general moose info. I’ve had venison, rabbit, quail, horse, whale and even smoked puffin, but I have never eaten moose meat. So on a lark, I thought it would be fun to drag out my crock pot and cook up a mess of moose stew for my friends and neighbors.
I found out a lot about moose on the internet and even found some moose recipes, but I also found that you cannot buy moose meat either in person or online. It’s illegal. You can hunt moose, and eat what you kill or give it to friends, but you can’t sell it commercially. I guess Sarah and Todd Palin bagged their freezerful of Alaskan moose themselves. I guess that’s also why you never see moose meat on a restaurant menu—at least not in the lower 48. Too bad, since like elk and buffalo, moose meat is evidently low in fat and high in protein and very tasty. Thoreau described it as being “like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor” But in a stew or on the hoof, the moose is a mighty interesting animal.
The moose is the largest member of the deer family, weighing in at over 1000 meaty, muscled lbs. Its scientific name is alces alces and it inhabits woods and forests throughout the northern hemisphere, eating up to 20 kg of leaves and twigs a day. Actually, the North American moose and the European elk are the same animal. The name difference was caused by early European explorers in North America. They encounterd cervus Canadensis, the second largest member of the deer family, in the New World and mistook it for an American version of the European elk—which it wasn’t, but they started calling it an elk anyway. In order to avoid confusion, they called the real elk, when they came across it, by its Native American name which became anglicized to “moose”. Moose, it seems, comes from an Algonquin word which translates roughly as “eater of twigs.” It’s all very confusing, but the bottom line is that in North America a moose is what is called an elk in Europe and a North American elk in is an entirely different member of the deer family.
Just what the difference is between a North American moose (alces alces) and a North American elk (cervus Canadensis) is, I do not know. But I do know that you absolutely cannot buy moose meat on the internet. However you can order up some elk if you want to and have it delivered right to your door.
Native Americans and Moose
The native peoples of America lived in intimate contact with the moose for millennia, hunting it, eating it, and definitely respecting it. I came across several traditional Native American stories which illustrate the relationship. They show that native peoples saw the animals they ate in a way that is miles removed from the corporate feedlots of today’s agri-business. Here’s one of my favorites.
An American Indian Legend
One night, a family of moose was sitting in their lodge. As they sat around the fire, a very strange thing happened. A pipe came floating through their door! Sweet-smelling smoke came from the long pipe and it made a circle around their lodge, passing close to the Moose People.
The old bull moose saw the pipe, but said nothing, so it passed by him. The cow moose said nothing, so the pipe passed by her, too. The pipe passed each of the Moose People until it reached the youngest bull moose who was near the door, of the lodge.
"You've come to me," he said to the pipe. Then, he reached out, took the pipe, and started to smoke it.
"Oh, my son," said the old bull moose, "now you have killed us! This is a pipe from the Human People. They're smoking this pipe now and asking for success in tomorrow's hunt. They will find us now. Because you smoked their pipe, they will find us."
"I'm not afraid," said the young bull moose. "I can run faster than any of those Human People. They can't catch me."
The old bull moose said nothing else.
When it was morning, the Moose People left their lodge. They went across the land looking for food. But, as soon as they got to the edge of the forest, they smelled the hunters. It was the time of year when there is a thin crust on the snow, and it made it hard for the Moose People to move quickly.
"These Human People will catch us!" said the cow moose. Their feet have feathers, like the grouse. They can walk on top of the snow."
Then, the Moose People started to run as the Human People followed them. The young bull moose who had smoked from the pipe ran away from the others. He was still sure that he could outrun the hunters. But, the hunters had on snowshoes, and the young moose's feet sank into the snow. The Human People followed him until he was tired, and then they shot and killed him.
After they killed him, they thanked him for smoking their pipe and for giving himself to them so that they could survive. They treated his body with care, and they soothed his spirit.
That night, the young bull moose woke up in his lodge surrounded by his Moose People. Next to his bed was a present that the Human People had given to him. He showed it to the others.
"See," he said. "It wasn't such a bad thing for me to accept the long pipe that the Human People sent us. Those hunters treated me respectfully. So, it is right for us to let the Human People catch us."
And, so it is to this day. Hunters who show respect to the moose, and other animals, are always the ones who have successful hunt.
A Great Moose Cookbook
Cooking Your Moose
There are actually a number of moose recipes floating around the internet. Here’s one for a generic moose stew—definitely adaptable to a slow cooker, I should think, from a website that specializes in wild game recipes I imagine that elk or venison can be substituted if moose is unavailable.
2 1/2 lbs Moose meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbs Shortening
1/4 tsp Cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp Salt
2 cans beef broth (10-1/2 ounces each)
1 cup Dry red wine
1 lg Onion; diced
3 Carrots; peeled and sliced
18 small Whole white onions
12 small New potatoes; peeled
2 tsb Butter
2 tsb Flour
Sauté meat cubes in shortening until brown on all sides. Add pepper, paprika, bay leaf, salt, beef broth, red wine, onion, and carrots. Cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours. Add whole onions and potatoes; cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are barely tender. Mix butter and flour into a paste. Drop into simmering stew. Cook, stirring, until stew bubbles and thickens. Serve with rice or polenta.
Jellied Moose Nose
It seems the moose has a big nose which can be served up as an epicurean delight. Here’s a recipe from justgame recipes.come
1 Upper jawbone of a moose
1 Onion; sliced
1 Garlic clove
1 tbsp Mixed pickling spice
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 cup Vinegar
Cut the upper jawbone of the moose just below the eyes.Place in a large kettle of scalding water and boil for 45 minutes.Remove and chill in cold water.Pull out all the hairs - these will have been loosened by the boiling and should come out easily ( like plucking a duck).Wash thoroughly until no hairs remain.Place the nose in a kettle and cover with fresh water.Add onion, garlic, spices and vinegarBring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender. Let cool overnight in the liquid.When cool, take the meat out of the broth, and remove and discard the bones and the cartilage. You will have two kinds of meat, white meat from the bulb of the nose, and thin strips of dark meat from along the bones and jowls.Slice the meat thinly and alternate layers of white and dark meat in a loaf pan.
Reheat the broth to boiling, then pour the broth over the meat in the loaf pan.Let cool until jelly has set. Slice and serve cold.
So there you are, folks-- more than you ever wanted to know about moose. Happy cooking and Bon Appetit. Personally, After learning more about the moose and writing this hub, I've decided to leave the moose cuisine to Sarah and stick with a hearty beef stew for me and my friends.