Rustic Moose Pot Pie

Lean wild game, roasted to perfection, sliced into bite-sized cubes and baked in a pie topped with a hearty whole wheat crust is the kind of meal that can fend off consecutive days of negative 20 degree cold.

When a friend recently presented us with a two-pound moose roast, we were thrilled. But we were also a bit perplexed. Looking over the meat, I couldn’t find even a trace of fat. Add that to the fact that neither one of us cooks roasts, and I was at something of a loss as to what to do. “Stew,” was the suggestion I most frequently came across. “Stew or stir fry,” was a friend’s suggestion.

We love good stew. In fact, we have enough caribou stew in the freezer to see us through the end of the school year. So that was out. Stir fry, too, is a regular dinner item. I wanted to do something traditional but new for us.

In the end, I did roast the moose. Inspired by a recipe for lamb from the cookbook Nobu West by Nobu Matsuhisa, I marinated the roast in miso seasoned with garlic and ginger before putting it in the oven. Despite my best efforts it came out a bit drier than I had hoped, although the miso marinade helped to caramelize the roast when I pan-seared it prior to roasting. I served the finished roast sliced thin with a tosa-zu dipping sauce along with carrots and parsnips cut into long, thin strips and sautéed in a combination of olive oil, butter, garlic and soy sauce.

Dinner that night started with scallop, shrimp and smoked quail egg chawan mushi, segued to roasted beats with pan-crisped pine nuts, was followed by cedar planked shrimp on mushrooms and culminated with the moose roast. For dessert, Barbra brought out individual baked apples capped with pastry. Inside each apple was apple pie filling. The dessert was delicious – and fun, and the whole-wheat pie crust topping the apple gave us the idea of making a large pot pie stuffed with leftover moose, vegetables and gravy.

Regarding the recipe below, a note about bouillon: We’ve become fans of Better Than Bouillon products. In our opinion, the flavor is superior to other soup bases we’ve tried.

Rustic Moose Pot Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon Beef Base” (or other bouillon, or use beef broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 2/3 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 pound roasted moose meat, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced coarse
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced into discs or chopped coarse
  • 1/3 cup broccoli florets, cut coarse
  • (Optional) 1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • several generous grinds freshly cracked black pepper
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. **Baking time and temperature may vary depending on type of crust used.**
  2. Place the water in a pot and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in enough beef bouillon for a strongly flavored base. Add bay leaf and rosemary. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add potatoes. You will simmer potatoes till just tender, but do not overcook. When potatoes still have about 5 minutes of cooking to go, add the carrots. When there is about 1 minute, add all the remaining vegetables. Continue simmering until potatoes are just tender and remove from heat. (They will continue cooking in the pie.)
  4. Use a strainer to separate potatoes and vegetables from the beef stock. Remove bay leaf and place potatoes and vegetables in a large bowl. Return beef stock to original pot.
  5. Place approximately 4 tablespoons olive oil in small frying pan and heat over low to medium-low heat. When oil is heated, slowly stir in flour. Continue stirring until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
  6. Heating beef broth over medium heat, stir in oil and flour mixture. Combine thoroughly. This will result in a thick gravy.
  7. To the bowl that already has the potatoes and vegetables, add the meat, gravy and the remaining seasonings and mix together.
  8. Pour meat and vegetable mixture directly into a deep pie dish. Cover with a crust. Be sure to make holes in the crust to allow steam to escape. Brushing on a beaten egg will help create a golden brown crust.
  9. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 °F for 25 – 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serve piping hot with big glasses of Old Vine Zinfandel.

Spicy Chicken Farfalle Soup

A hot bowl of spicy chicken and bow tie soup is just the thing on a cold January day.

We’re both fans of Southwestern style rubs. Penzey Spices makes a good one, as does Dean & Deluca. I’m sure there are others. I whipped up this wonderfully spicy chicken noodle soup using leftover chicken thighs I’d rubbed and broiled for last night’s dinner. Vary your ingredients according to how much chicken you have on hand and what’s in your pantry. By the way, if you haven’t tried Better Than Bouillon brand, it really is–better than bouillon. Much better. In addition to plain chicken and beef, they make 42 other styles of soup base including a lobster base that is absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:

  • skinless, boneless chicken thighs rubbed with Southwestern-style seasoning and broiled
  • sweet onions, chopped coarse
  • carrots, chopped coarse
  • celery, chopped coarse
  • sweet corn
  • garlic, chopped coarse
  • Kalamata olives, chopped coarse
  • sun-dried tomatoes, chopped coarse
  • mushrooms, chopped coarse
  • fresh bow tie (or other) pasta
  • Cholula sauce
  • Better Than Bouillon, chicken flavor
  • olive oil
  • Italian herbs (fresh or dried)
  • smoked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • (If I had fresh, hot red peppers, I would have used them)

1. Cut chicken into small pieces and set aside.

2. Place enough water in a pot to cover the ingredients. Add bouillon and bring to a boil.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add chopped vegetables, starting with the carrots and onions as they require more cooking time. Add Italian herbs and stir in well. After two or three minutes, add celery, olives, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until onions are just turning translucent and carrots and celery are just barely crunchy.

4. Add sautéed vegetables to boiling water. Add chicken, Cholula sauce to taste, a few grinds of pepper and the smoked sea salt.

5. Add fresh pasta and continue boiling till just done. (If using store-bought pasta, it is better to add it to the boiling water before adding the other ingredients to cook it to desired tenderness without overcooking the vegetables.)

6. Serve piping hot.