I hesitate writing a recipe that would require a trip to the Arctic Circle to purchase (or hunt down) the main ingredient, but here you have it. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bob Sparrow (Sparrow Meats in Kerrytown) could get you a caribou tenderloin if you wanted one.
Our friend, Jack, went hunting with friends on the Arctic Circle for caribou in October. It’s too late for outsiders to go caribou hunting now, as it’s become so cold the hunting is left to the locals and native tribes in this frigid northwestern Arctic region.
Jack and his cronies bagged a caribou and he brought back a tenderloin for me to mess around with — a first for me, but I’ve always enjoyed wild game and a culinay challenge. Jack tells me that the natives like to leave the fat on the meat, which is some of the most flavorful in the world. Most of caribou killed in the region are taken by locals, not sport hunters, and caribou is sustenance for the natives.
I could only find two recipes for caribou online (!), one of which was a very complicated recipe from Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, Utah that incorporates spicy gingerbread, boniato squash puree, and a cranberry-port wine jus. The only element of his recipe I adapted was the rub used, which was a perfect marriage of flavor with the caribou.
We relished the flavor of the meat, which was mild and tasted of lichens and moss, the Arctic fauna on which the animals grazed. The meat was “toothsome,” like grass-fed, leaner cuts of beef. The next time I’m lucky enough to have this meat, I’ll tenderize it by cutting them into individual steaks and marinating 12-24 hours before cooking. After that, I’ll use the same recipe below — it was marvelous.
This was meat from the second caribou catch of the hunt. The men butchered the first animal caught by a stream, bundled it up, then returned to the tents to sleep. The next morning the tarp was gone and the meat was stolen from the game bags. The thief was so confident the men wouldn’t come after him, he didn’t cover his tracks, which were the footprints of a large grisly — much larger than Jack’s size 13 boot (pictured).
Says Jack….”We thought we were at the top of the food chain until the bear came along.”
Excellent served with Balsamic Red Cabbage.