Recipe: bison pemmican from Keriwa chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe
By Aaron Joseph Bear Robe
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
REFRIGERATION: 5 days
BRAISE TIME: 2 to 4 hours
COOK TIME: 1 hour
Serves 4 to 8
1 bison or beef tongue, 1–1¾ lb
1 small sprig sage
4 cups water
¼ cup each coarse salt and granulated sugar
1 bay leaf
½ tsp each juniper berries and black peppercorns
1 star anise
8 cups homemade bison stock or veal or beef broth
1 tsp juniper berries
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 small sprig thyme
1 cup saskatoon berry jelly or blueberry jelly
1 pint fresh saskatoon berries or blueberries
¼ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp each sherry vinegar and maple syrup
1. Stir brine ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Let cool, then pour over raw tongue in a bowl. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 days.
2. Preheat oven to 250º F. Fold braising liquid spices in a cheesecloth to form a sachet. Tie and add to stock. Bring stock to a boil over high heat in a large ovenproof pot. When boiling, reduce heat to low. When stock is no longer boiling, carefully add tongue. Cover and place in oven. Braise until tongue slides off the blade when poked with a knife. This will take 2 to 4 hours.
3. Remove tongue from braising liquid; strain liquid and sachet. Reserve both separately and refrigerate. Remove and discard tongue’s outer membrane. Place tongue on a tray and top with another tray. Weigh down with a can. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Stir braising liquid, jelly and sachet in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat for 45 minutes until reduced by half. Add salt, pepper, vinegar and maple syrup to taste.
5. Cut tongue lengthwise in ⅛-inch slices. Pour sauce overtop. Garnish with berries and sage.
You can find saskatoon berry jelly at Forbes Wild Foods (358 Danforth Ave.,
AARON JOSEPH BEAR ROBE
Pemmican, the Aboriginal superfood of dried bison meat ground up with fat and berries, has been a survivalist standard for hundreds of years. At his Parkdale bistro, chef-owner Aaron Joseph Bear Robe (pictured with his son, Elijah) has reinvented the gut-busting concoction into a surprisingly light entrée. The dish is beloved by his diners for its terrific taste rather than hearty sustenance. First, he brines, kneads and pounds the tongue into tender submission (if you can’t find bison, beef works just as well). Then he braises the meat in an emulsion of juniper berries and clove and serves it with a sweet-tart saskatoon berry compote sharpened with sherry vinegar. The final product—which goes great with bannock, that other Aboriginal power food—is a fresh harmony of Canadian flavours.