What's the mark of a true blue Lewis and Clark buff? Not just reading books and watching documentaries, for sure. Traveling to museums and historic sites, maybe even following the trail - you're getting closer. No, the undeniable sign of a true fan is the ability to eat like the Corps of Discovery did on their expedition west.
The following recipes, from "The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes for an Expedition," by Mary Gunderson, take a few liberties with the preparation methods. Gunderson wanted cooks to have success with the authentic ingredients in their own kitchens.
Buffalo, Turnip and Berry Ragout
Lewis's mention of ragouts and truffles morella reminds us that thoughts of home and familiar surroundings and food did cross the travelers' minds. Or Lewis may have wished to return with something new for President Jefferson and other epicures.
1 pound buffalo stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other fat
3 to 4 turnips, peeled and cut into eighths
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried blueberries
Toss the buffalo cubes in a mixture of the cornmeal, salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy 3-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the buffalo and brown on all sides, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, adding additional oil if needed. Reduce the heat to medium if the meat browns too fast. Stir in 2 cups of water, the turnips, onion and blueberries. Bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring and basting regularly. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 5 servings.
Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
A sunflower family member, Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) still grows easily in the Great Plains. In supermarkets, the root is featured as a specialty vegetable, sometimes called sunchoke.
8 to 10 Jerusalem artichokes (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon suet, lard or butter
1/3 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes and thinly peel. Slice in half and arrange on a 12-inch square of aluminum foil. Dot with suet and sprinkle with sunflower seeds, salt and pepper. Bring opposite sides of the foil together and seal the seam. Fold in the ends. Grill over medium coals or bake in 400?F oven for about 50 minutes, or until tender.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
Note: If using unsalted seeds, add salt to taste.
Reprinted with permission from The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes for an Expedition by Mary Gunderson. 'History Cooks 2003. Suggested retail price: $19.95.