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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Adventures in Pemmican Making



I have been on a quest for beef hearts for a while now. It's harder to get organ meat than you would think in the area where I live; the only organ meat that is sold regularly is beef liver. There are a few reasons why I suddenly required all the beef hearts I could get my hands on. First, its one of the least gross organ meats (it basically just tastes like steak). Secondly, its very nutritious; beef heart is high in B vitamins (especially B12), coenzyme Q10, and has more than double the amount of collagen and elastin compared to other muscle meats (source). And the best reason of all for my sudden fascination with beef heart; pemmican! After calling quite a few places and having no luck, I left my name at a health food store to order beef heart in for me. A few weeks ago, they called me; they got 4 in! I bought them all. No regrets.



Pemmican is a traditional food that is mostly concentrated protein and fat. It was invented by the native people of North America; you might vaguely remember learning about it in high school. It is made by dehydrating meat, grinding it into a powder, and then mixing with fat to create basically a primitive version of a protein bar (or ball). It can be incredibly difficult to figure out what to eat on the go when eating paleo, and even more difficult when eating AIP. I took an interest in making pemmican because it is not only grain-free, but doesn't contain nuts, seeds, or plant protein sources (such as pea, hemp, or soy protein). It is a perfect energy bar for someone who is on an extremely limited diet because it only contains meat, fats, greens, and some dried fruit. I looked to the Paleo Mom's pemmican recipe for guidance, but ended up changing a fair amount of the recipe, so I have outlined my version below.


Ingredients:
  • 1 lb grass fed beef heart
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 4-5 medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp true cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


I don't own a dehydrator, so I did all my dehydrating in the oven. Follow the instructions The Paleo Mom outlines for slicing the beef heart. Use the lowest setting possible on your oven (mine was 200F). Lay the slices of beef heart on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put in the oven along with a second parchment lined cookie sheet with the kale and spinach on it. Line a third cookie sheet with parchment, lay the frozen blueberries on it, and put this in the oven as well. Time will vary quite a bit depending on what the lowest temperature setting on your oven is. Because mine was kind of high, it took approximately 3-4 hours for the heart and greens and 5 hours for the blueberries to fully dehydrate. For best results, check in on your pans every hour or two.

Once everything is fully dehydrated, throw the greens and meat into a blender and blend into a fine powder. Add the spices, dates, and salt; blend thoroughly. Transfer this mixture into a bowl and add the melted ghee and coconut oil in. Mix thoroughly, and then add the blueberries. Press this paste into a 9x9 inch pan, and put in the fridge to set. Once it has hardened up it can be cut into bars.




I was warned by a friend that pemmican isn't exactly appetizing so I swapped the apricots for dates and added a few spices to try to improve the taste, and I would like to think I was successful. The pemmican I came out with had a sweet and savoury taste. The most dominant flavours I could taste was the fat from the ghee and coconut oil in combination with the dates and greens; the meat wasn't very noticeable to me. I thought it tasted great but something tells me its an acquired taste (I eat a lot of weird things). Anyways, I brought it with me on a road trip to Seattle and it definitely keeps to full when you don't have much time to eat.


So, what do you think about pemmican? Does it sound disgusting? would you like to try it? 
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.




     
                                                                         

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