Moose Meatballs with Low Bush Cranberries and Smoked Cabbage

I felt so honored and humbled while preparing this dish. After the experience we had on our adventure out the road the day before our feast I knew I wanted to make this dish incredibly special. I think we succeeded.

There are a few easy substitutes if you don’t happen to have a freezer filled with ground moose. That can easily be swapped for either ground beef or pork. For the low bush cranberries, feel free to use conventional cranberries (fresh or frozen). Adjust the sweetness to your taste.

2 pounds moose meat (used ground beef or pork instead)

1 medium onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground

1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

1 piece bread, roughly chopped or torn

¼ cup milk

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 ½ cup cranberries

¾ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup butter

½ a head of Napa cabbage

Olive oil

Flake salt

1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley

In a large bowl combine the moose, onion, garlic, fennel, rosemary, bread, milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well to completely combine.

Set a large skillet directly over the coals or over a grill grate set over flames. Sear off a small piece of the mixture to check the seasoning.

If you’re happy with the seasoning form the mixture into roughly 2 inch meatballs. Add to the skillet and sear on all sides. You want to get a good deep crust. The meatballs are tender so carefully move them around with tongs or a spatula.

Once seared add the cranberries directly to the pan along with the brown sugar, soy sauce, five spice, and vinegar. Add a pinch of salt as well. Let this gently simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the cranberries have broken down. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Cut the cabbage in half and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Set over a hot grill and sear for two minutes, until the edges are charred but the interior is still crisp and fresh. Remove from the grill and set on a platter. Drizzle the wedges with red wine vinegar and finish with flake salt.

Add the meatballs and sauce to the platter and finish with flake salt, Pecorino and parsley.


Alder Smoked Cured Salmon Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Smoked Corn and Whipped Shallot Cream

We were downright giddy when we walked into the otherwise sparse grocery store in town, when we saw heirloom tomatoes on the produce shelves. Our timing was quite serendipitous as a fresh produce shipment had come in the day of our feast. We loaded our baskets to create this bountiful salad with bright, fresh flavors.

You could skip the step of smoking the cured salmon but why miss the chance to impart a soft, sweet smoky flavor whenever possible? This tender piece of fish only sits on the fire for a few brief moments and it is somewhat protected from direct heat as it rests on a bed of fresh Alder branches. The goal here isn’t to cook the fish but rather gently baste it in smoke.

Cured Salmon

1 lb wild salmon fillet

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon fennel pollen (optional)

2 tablespoons bourbon

Rub salmon with olive oil. Lay salmon with skin on bottom in the deep dish & coat both sides with salt mixture. Drizzle Bourbon over top. Cover with plastic wrap, keep in fridge, & baste frequently (36 to 48 hours). Take out of dish with brine and slice salmon thin diagonally.

To smoke the salmon set up your fire with very hot coals. Place a grill grate about six inches above the coals. Gather a couple of fresh, green Alder branches. Set these on the grill grate then place the cured salmon directly on top. Smoke the fish for 5 to 7 minutes. This is enough time to impart a soft smokey flavor but will not cook the fish. Move the salmon around if it’s getting too much heat and it starts to cook.

For the Shallot Cream:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

¼ cup heavy cream

1 shallot, minced

Salt and pepper

Combine the cream cheese, heavy cream and shallot along with a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Beat well with a spatula until completely mixed and fluffy.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week if you don’t plan to use straight away.

Assembling the Salad:

1 ear fresh corn

1 lb heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced

15 basil leaves

Olive oil

Flake salt

Fresh horseradish, grated on microplane, to finish (optional)

Shuck the corn and set the cob on a grill grate set over hot coals. Cook until blackened in parts, about five minutes, rotating every minute or so. For an even more intense flavor add green hardwood (such as Alder) on the coals and although the corn to char and get bathed in that smoke.

Set the corn aside to cool before slicing the kernels off the cob.

On your serving platter layer on the shallot cream then top with the tomatoes, salmon, basil and corn. Sprinkle on good olive oil, flake salt and freshly grated horseradish.