If you follow French Fridays, you might notice that the fish in the dish above isn’t the one called for in this week’s recipe. My local fishmonger is an Ocean Wise establishment, which means they carry only sustainable seafood. It also means there was no skate in sight there, as it’s currently being over-fished worldwide. So instead of skate, I picked up halibut, which is a firm-fleshed recommended alternative. It’s also one of my favourites, so I was pleased to make the substitution.
A lot of conversations about ethical and healthful eating in my house revolve around my partner’s choice to move toward veganism and my philosophy of eating meat less often than I eat vegetarian. But another important part of all this, for me, is where food comes from. Sourcing wild or humanely raised meat is something I strive toward (though I don’t always succeed). I also think the same attention needs to be paid to non-animal food, as well. So, I’ve been following the controversy around Jeanette Winterson and the rabbit with interest. Many of these questions are being discussed in the wake of the Twitter frenzy her photos created. There certainly doesn’t seem to be one answer to the question of what ethical eating looks like.
In the case of this French Friday, the sustainable choice was also a delicious one. If only all ethical decisions had outcomes so rewarding. Halibut was perfect for pan-frying and serving with tangy, brown butter sauce. I couldn’t believe how well the cornichons fit into to the dish – their crunchy tartness was a nice contrast to the tender fish. I usually bake fish, but this dish reminded me that I should get my skillet out more often.
Not much else is needed for accompaniment, as Dorie points out in the head note to this recipe, so buttery rice and steamed vegetables made good companions for the fish – a perfect summer meal.
I cheated and just took a quick snapshot of the dish after saucing it, because I was eager to eat and didn’t feel like letting that beautiful halibut get cold. If you want some gorgeous photos of this week’s dish, you’ll have to go and see what the rest of my French Fridays colleagues got up to: Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce
It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’ve been mostly neglecting the blogosphere for the past few weeks. I did manage to read Hank Shaw’s thoughtful post on hunting and it inspired me to share a recipe that I’ve been making for years. Though I don’t hunt myself, wild game has always been a part of my diet. My father started hunting as a young man and he’s passed on his skills to my brother, my nieces, and my nephews. When I buy meat, I try to choose organic, humanely raised meat as often as possible, but between the game my family provides and the meat from my parents’ hobby farm, I don’t have to shop for it very often.
Moose meat is one of my favourites, especially when it’s ground. It’s lovely wherever you’d use ground beef, and as I’ve said before, it’s not as scary a proposition as commercial ground beef can sometimes be.
Think of the recipe below as a starting point – I’ve varied it many times over the years. The last time, I used HP Sauce in the mix and then glazed the top with a little more before popping it in the oven. Sage, thyme, and summer savoury made lovely herbal additions to this particular loaf. The rice and milk are important (I used brown rice this time), because moose meat is very lean. The mixture might seem a little wet, but the excess moisture gets absorbed nicely by the rice and allows the loaf to have a nice jus when it’s just out of the oven. That jus will disappear, though, if you have any leftovers – the loaf will reabsorb it, keeping your next servings tender.
1 lb ground moose meat
1 cup cooked rice
1 small onion
1 cup milk
3-5 tsps dried herbs
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or 3 Tbsps HP Sauce
salt and pepper
a clove (or three) of garlic (optional)
Combine ingredients, place in a greased loaf pan, and cook at 325° F for 45 minutes to an hour.
I count myself lucky that I’ve had more than my share of humanely raised and wild meat. I think it’s helped me avoid the disconnect between food and its origins that is so ubiquitous in this culture. I know that not everyone has access to food from the sources I’ve had and that for many, ethical eating means vegetarian or vegan eating. I do believe that choosing to eat meat responsibly can be an ethically sound choice and Hank Shaw’s essay is a great explication of how that may be.