Forget the war in Iraq or Social Security—moose burgers have suddenly become the political talking point du jour.
While moose on the menu is nothing new to those up north, Sarah Palin’s vice presidential candidacy has brought Alaskan cuisine into the spotlight like never before. Sources differ as to the governor’s preferred preparation—some say moose stew, others cite moose burgers—but there seems little doubt that wild game often appears on the Palin family table.
There’s a reason you never see moose at your neighborhood butcher. Under federal law, as this New York Daily News article
notes, wild game cannot be purchased or sold, so moose consumption is limited to those with the means to hunt the animals down themselves. But since a single moose can weigh up to three-quarters of a ton, yielding hundreds of pounds of usable meat, a good kill can last a family through the year (or a cook through a thousand quarter-pounders).
According to Laraine Derr of the Chez Alaska Cookery School, as quoted by the Daily News
, moose and ground beef are nearly interchangeable in the kitchen; she cites moose steaks, moose Wellington, and moose pasta sauce (tagliatelle Anchoragese
?) as just a few of the meat’s many uses. Milder than beef, however, the moose is almost entirely lean meat—so much so that preparations requiring a higher fat content, such as moose burgers, often make use of other animal fats to keep the patties moist.
The hunt begins in the fall, so it’s moose season in Alaska as well as on CNN. But by the time November rolls around, we may be hearing about reindeer sausage, caribou, seal-fat laced Eskimo ice cream… this election’s just getting started.