A Taste of Home Discover the tastes of your own food nation with these recipes from five of them by Gary Paul Nabhan
Bison Nation: Buffalo Jerky Wasna With a Medley of Native Berries
2 lbs. dried buffalo meat
1/4 cup dried chokecherries
1/4 cup dried elderberries
1/4 cup dried buffalo currants
1/4 cup dried wild plums or prunes
Mix the dried meat and berries. Using a food processor or a mortar and pestle (a Mexican molcajete would work as well), grind half a cup of the mixture at a time. Place in small leather or cloth bags and use as ceremonial or trail food.
Pinyon Nut Nation: Pinyon-Crusted Churro Lamb on a Bed of Yucca Blossoms
1 leg Navajo-Churro lamb
20 sprigs triangle-leaf bursage
1/3 cup thin-shelled Nevada pine nuts, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons ground berries from three-leaved sumac (a.k.a. lemonade berry)
3 tablespoons jelly made of bushmint and buffalo berries or wolfberries
6 cups fresh or frozen yucca blossoms, soaked in water
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
Cut small slits in the leg of lamb and insert sprigs of bursage. In an adobe oven fired with juniper wood, roast and smoke the lamb 15 minutes per pound. The meat should be smoke infused but still somewhat red in color, with the juices kept inside by a slightly seared skin. Remove from oven and let cool for half an hour. Cut the lamb into inch-thick chunks, three to five inches in diameter. Place the chunks in a paper bag with the ground sumac berries, pine nuts, and jelly. Shake until the meat is crusted with the nuts and berries, then place in a serving dish and keep warm.
Meanwhile, remove the sepals (the creamy white petals) of the yucca blossoms and saute or stir-fry the blossoms in sunflower oil until they are reduced to half their volume. Layer on plates and place the lamb on top. Serves six.
Wild Rice Nation: Manoomin With Spring Greens, Hickory Nuts, and Hazelnuts
1 1/3 cups hand-harvested wild rice
4 cups water
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup hickory nuts, chopped
4 wild onions or O'odham shallots (I'itoi siwol)
4 tablespoons wild prairie parsley or lamb's-quarter, minced
Wash wild rice in hot water, rinsing three or four times. In a saucepan, bring water, rice, salt, and half the oil to a rolling boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the water, roughly 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put remaining oil in a no-stick skillet and toast the chopped nuts. Toss in the onions and greens and saute briefly, then add contents of pan to the rice. Serves two.
Salmon Nation: Alder-Smoked Sockeye Salmon Glazed With Huckleberries
10 2-foot alder sticks for skewers, plus alder firewood and chips
1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
2 cups huckleberries, simmered with 1/2 cup water until reduced to 3/4 cup of sauce
1 tablespoon ground ginger or cinnamon
5 sockeye salmon fillets, cut 5 to 6 inches wide and at least 1.5 inches thick
Soak two cups of alder chips in warm water. In a bowl, mix the sea salt, turbinado sugar, huckleberry sauce, and ginger or cinnamon. Place mixture in a bag, then insert salmon fillets one by one to coat. Cool in refrigerator or cooler for two hours while alder fire is started, creating a good bed of coals. Skewer each fillet with two sticks. Five minutes before smoking the salmon, toss drained alder chips atop the red-hot coals. As the chips begin to smolder, stick the alder skewers into the ground in a ring six to nine inches out from the coals and angle the fish over the smoke and heat. Cook until the meat flakes and has changed color, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Serves five.
Chile Pepper Nation: Tepary-Bean Terrine on Mesquite-Grilled Nopalitos in Green Chiltepine and Tomatillo Sauce
1 pound dried yellow-brown tepary beans
2 cups water
1 tablespoon manzanillo olive oil from the Gila River Indian community
1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal from 60-day Pima corn
1 teaspoon sea salt or mineral salt from the dry lakes in Utah
4 dried red chiltepines or 1/2 teaspoon Santa Cruz chile powder
1 teaspoon dried Sonoran oregano
8 tender young pencas, or pads of prickly pear cactus (a.k.a. nopalitos tiernitos)
1/2 cup balsamic or saguaro-cactus-fruit vinegar
For the sauce:
3 cups turkey stock
2 tablespoons green, cured chiltepines
1/4 cup "Zuni" sweet tomatillos, boiled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped O'odham shallots (I'itoi siwol)
Salt to taste
8 fresh sprigs of Sonoran oregano or 24 pickled cholla-cactus buds as garnish
Put tepary beans in a pot with water to cover and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, then soak overnight. Cook in a pressure cooker or Crock-Pot on high until tender. Rinse, mash, then puree in a blender with the water, olive oil, cornmeal, salt, red chiltepines, and oregano. Simmer 30 minutes in a saucepan, then pour into a bread pan, shape into an arched loaf, and cool for an hour in a refrigerator until loaf is firm. Cut into slices 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick.
Select eight small prickly pear pads. Skin and brush off any stickers with a carrot peeler. Soak in vinegar for an hour, then roast over a mesquite charcoal fire on a grill. Return to vinegar marinade until needed.
Meanwhile, bring turkey stock to a boil in another saucepan and add chopped green chiltepines, tomatillos, onions, and salt. Stir for five minutes until thickened.
Place a prickly pear pad on each plate and fit two slices of tepary-bean loaf onto it, trimming the slices until they are the same shape as the pad. Then pour the tomatillo-chiltepine sauce over the slices and garnish with a sprig of fresh Sonoran oregano or three pickled cholla-cactus buds. Serves eight.
Bonus recipe! Salmon Nation: Olympia Oysters Tucked Into Patties of Ozette Potatoes and Camas
24 Olympia oysters, shucked and washed
2 sage grouse eggs
2/3 cup wild onions or 1/2 cup roasted Inchelium garlic
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons nettles, steamed and chopped
2 cups camas root, precooked or pit-roasted and mashed
2 cups Ozette potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons Indian ricegrass Montina-brand flour
4 tablespoons ooligan grease or flaxseed oil
Preheat oven to 275. Slightly brown the oysters, then remove from heat. In a bowl, mix the eggs, onions or garlic, salt, precooked nettles, camas, and Ozette potatoes; mash and blend them into a batter of even consistency. With ricegrass flour on your hands, shape the batter into patties four to five inches in diameter and half an inch thick. Place a browned oyster in the middle of each patty, burying it in the batter until it is fully hidden. Drizzle ooligan grease or flaxseed oil in a nonstick skillet, set to low to medium heat, and fry two patties at a time until golden brown, for no more than six minutes each. Serves five.