I’ve never understood the point of hunting, so it’s from the height of hypocrisy that I admit I’ve always wanted to cook and eat moose meat. While visiting family in Dawson Creek at Christmas, I might have mentioned this to my niece and her husband who just happened to have some in their freezer. Without hesitation, they offered me a brisket which I readily accepted.

The simplest way to cook a challenging piece of meat is for a long time over low heat. I needed a tried-and-true recipe and so Boeuf Bourguignon became Élan Bourguignon and Spaetzle. I used a vegetable stock instead of beef stock so as not to interfere with the flavour of the moose. Plus I used the entire tin of tomato paste (it’s only 155ml) and a full bottle of wine. Cooking time is just under 4 hours and I used a 5.2 L Staub pot.

To source wild game in Calgary, contact Rocky Mountain Game Meats.

Meat

If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to a moose brisket, you could of course use other game meats like bison or elk or stick with beef – any which way, this is a great recipe.
Author Karen Ralph

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts water, 4 litres
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt divided, 45 ml
  • 3.5 lbs moose brisket, 1.5 kg
  • 1 cup flour, 130 g
  • 3 tbsp salted butter

Instructions

  • Boil water with 15 ml (1 tbsp) salt.
  • Simmer moose brisket for 10 minutes to remove any strong flavours. Drain water.
  • Once cool, cut brisket into 2½ cm (2-inch) cubes, pat dry. Toss cubes in flour with 2 tbsp (30 ml) salt until completely coated.
  • Melt 3 tbsp (45 ml) salted butter in large deep casserole pot with a lid. Sear meat cubes in small batches, setting aside when finished. Once cooled, meat can be stored sealed in the fridge until needed.

Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp salted butter, 15 ml
  • 3 medium carrots

Instructions

  • Add butter to the pot, melt it and sautée the carrots until tender. Remove from pot, cool and set aside — these will be added to the stock.

Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp salted butter, 45 ml
  • 1 1/2 lbs mixed mushrooms, sliced (brown and shiitakes), 700 g

Instructions

  • Melt butter in the pot and add small batches of mushrooms, browning them as evenly as possible. Once browned, removed from pot, cool and store in sealed container in fridge until needed.

Pearl Onions

Ingredients

  • 2 pkgs white pearl onions, approximately 30
  • 4 1/2 cups water brought to a boil, 1 litre
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • bowl of ice water, set aside
  • 3 tbsp salted butter, 45 ml

Instructions

  • Onions can be frozen and ready to use, or you can use fresh and prepare them yourself.
  • If preparing, add the onions to the boiling water and leave for 4 minutes. Drain and shock in ice water. Cutting of the furry end, slip the onions out of their skins.
  • Melt butter in the same pot used to fry the moose cubes and add the onions, gently rolling them around until browned all over – they won’t be uniform. Don’t worry about it.
  • Remove them from the pot and once cooled, store them in a sealed container in the fridge until needed.

Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bacon cut into matchstick-sized lardons, 225 g

Instructions

  • Fry the bacon in the pot, remove, pat the excess grease off and store in lidded container in fridge until needed.

Stock

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock, 1 litre
  • 3 cups red wine, 750 ml
  • 5.5 oz of tomato paste, 155 ml
  • sautted carrots (from above)
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed and green centres removed
  • sprigs of rosemary and thyme

Instructions

  • Combine ingredients in 5 L (5 qt.) pot, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, and store in fridge until needed.

Spaetzle

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb package of frozen spaetzle, 1.3 kg
  • 4 qt boiling water, 4 litres
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt, 30 ml
  • 3 tbsp salted butter, 45 ml

Instructions

  • Boil water, add salt and spaetzle, stir briefly to ensure they don’t stick together and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  • While noodles are cooking melt 45 ml (3 tbsp) butter in a large frying pan.
  • When the noodles are done, drain and dump them into the hot skillet and sautée for about 3 minutes until the noodles are coated with butter.

Assembly

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
  • Discard layer of coagulated fat that will have risen to the top of the stock. Add the stock and the seared moose cubes to the cast-iron pot. Cover and cook for 2.5 hours.
  • Remove from oven and add the carrots, onions, bacon lardons and mushrooms. Give the pot a good stir, return it to the oven and cook for another 1.5 hours. If it seems to be cooking too quickly, turn the heat down to 150 C (300 F).
  • When it’s finished, the sauce should coat a spoon. Using tongs, remove the herb twigs and using a spoon, skim off any fat. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a bit of water, and if it’s too thin, reduce it on the stove top, but after almost 4 hours in the oven, it should be perfect.

Serve

  • Tilt spaetzle onto a serving platter, garnish with chopped parsley and serve alongside the pot of Élan Bourguignon with a hearty bread.