Mamuq: Great balls of caribou
Ragout de boulettes is a French recipe for meatballs in rich gravy that my mother often made. She generally used beef, veal and pork; however since moving to Nunavut, I’ve replaced the veal and beef with caribou or muskox (or both) for a delightfully tasty and nourishing main dish.
It’s perfect after a day spent outside on the land or sea when you want something delicious and warm.
Garlic mashed potatoes, fresh bread and a salad would be great with this dish. For the garlic mashed potatoes, simply throw in two or three garlic cloves as you are boiling the potatoes. I’ve also included a recipe for a basic salad vinaigrette and ways you can add to it.
Nunavut ragout de boulettes
1/2 lb ground caribou
1/2 lb ground muskox
1/2 lb ground pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup white flour
salt and pepper to taste
finely chopped celery leaves (about a handful)
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 to 15 mushrooms
In a medium-sized bowl mix together the meat, egg, onion, allspice, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into balls and roll the balls in the white flour.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the meatballs in batches so that they roast a little on the outside but do not cook all the way through. Once all the meatballs have been roasted, put them back in the pan, and cover them with water. Add the chopped celery leaves, bay leaf and mushrooms. Turn the heat down low and let simmer for at least an hour. I sometimes add in a few carrots at this point as well.
Simple Salad Vinaigrette
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 medium-sized garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a jar and shake. This dressing will keep for a month or more in the fridge. Vinaigrettes gather flavour as they age and are best used at room temperature.
I love vinaigrettes because you can easily create new flavours by adding a variety of ingredients to the base. Here are some additions to choose from:
Herbs: Try 2 tsp dried oregano, parsley, basil, herbes de province or thyme (or 1/3 cup fresh).
Sweeteners: Adding 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup makes a sweet, tangy dressing.
Fruit: Add 1 tbsp orange juice and 1/2 tsp finely grated orange rind.
Seeds: Use 1 tbsp poppy or sesame seeds.
Vinegars: Try mixing part wine, cider or any fruit vinegar you have to make up the 1/3 cup needed.
Oils: Mix peanut, olive and vegetable oil — or any flavoured oil you have.
Back in September, I described what I hoped this column would become. I wanted it to be a place to share old and new recipes, cooking tips and to discuss food. With that in mind, I invite readers to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me your recipes, along with stories about how you use them or how you developed them. Please make sure to include your name, the community you live in and a little bit about yourself. If you do not have access to a computer, you can send your recipes to Nunatsiaq News by fax at (867) 975-4763 or by regular post to Box 8, Iqaluit, Nunavut X0A 0H0.