Signature Foods Definitely Alberta
Updated: Jun 25, 2022
(REKADOS/The Main Ingredient) Marietta Pangan
Summer is here and Alberta boasts with truly rich and authentic ingredients within the province. We are so delighted with our July Feautured Chefs: Merrie Lim and Ben Joy Dola
1. Bison. Alberta is the Bison Capital of Canada. It the native cattle to the Prairies. Bison, compared to beef, is lighter, coarser, and tastes slightly sweeter. It doesn't have an after taste and not as gamey. Bison is an excellent source of complete protein and a rich source of vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. It is also a good source of thiamine, iron, zinc, phosphorus and other minerals. Bison meat can be found in several farmers market, specialty stores, natural food stores and local butcher shops.
2. Beef. Triple-A Certified Angus from cows fed on barley, with balanced fat-lean distribution, more buttery flavour and less gamey are the qualities which set Alberta beef apart from Australian and USA counterparts. Alberta is a cattle country. The Chinook winds tempering the effects of winter provides southern Alberta the ideal year-round access to pasture for cattle. More than 5 million heads or over 40 percent of the country beef herd is found here. The province is residents to more than 18,000 beef cattle producers and family of ranches. Their skills and heritage continue to pass down from their generations to the next.
3. Saskatoon Berries . What makes this kind of berry as an adopted fruit in Alberta is because they are very hardy plants that can survive winter temperatures of -50 to -60º Celsius with a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. This Prairie berries have 2 times more Fiber, Potassium, Iron and 4 times more Magnesium than Blueberry. It is also rich in anthocyanins, which make it a good antioxidant
4. Asparagus. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable from the lily family. What makes this more exceptional as an Albertan greens is the endurance to survive for 20 or more years on the prairies harsh climate. This plant is definitely a spring vegetable as the sprouting from the ground of Asparagus marks the beginning of the season. Asparagus, besides being loaded with fibre, vitamins and mineral, also contain cancer-fighting compound and good antioxidant, brain booster and natural diuretics.
5. Wild Mushrooms. Mushrooms are fungus growing above the ground and dieters best friend. It doesn't have a trace of cholesterol, low in calories and fat. Mushrooms have fibre and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. There are at least 2 dozens of wild edible mushrooms in Alberta. They are abundant in all 5 National Parks in Alberta: Banff, Buffalo, Elk Island, Jasper and Waterton Lakes.They can also be found in the Calgary and Edmonton areas.
Ms. Merrie Lim is a Red Seal certified chef currently working as an Executive Meeting Manager for The Westin Calgary Airport. She is also a menu and developer for high profile clientele. "Cooking is and will always be my passion" Learning the other aspects of the industry is as important as well. Photos by Ms. Merrie Lim
Bison and Wild Mushroom Pot Pie
Ingredients: ● · 20 g dried porcini mushrooms (slices, whole or chopped) ● · 312 ml boiled water ● · 1 kg Bison chuck , cut into 1inch cubes ● · 1 - 2 tbsp Canola oil ● · 5 garlic cloves (minced) ● · 2 shallots,(finely chopped) ● · 1 celery stalk, (finely chopped) ● · 3 carrots about half inch (medium diced) ● · 1/3 cup flour (all purpose flour) ● · 500 ml dry red wine ● · 1L beef stock / bison stock – if you can make some ● · 3 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves ● · 2 bay leaves (fresh or dried) ● · 200 g bacon (diced) ● · 300 - 400g mixed Wild Mushrooms (slice the larger ones) ● · 1 – 2 sheets puff pastry (enough to cover pie) ● · 1 egg yolk
1. Soak porcini in hot water for at least 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms and reserve soaking liquid. Roughly chop porcini.
2.Season Bison with salt and pepper.
3. Heat 1 tbsp Canola oil in a large heavy based pot. Add half the Bison and brown all over, then remove and repeat with remaining Bison. Set aside.
4. Turn stove down to medium low. If the pot is looking dry, add more Canola oil. Add shallots and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook for 6 minutes or until softened and sweet (I find organic carrots sweeter)
5. Add flour and stir through.
6. Add red wine, beef stock, and stir to dissolve the flour.
7. Add thyme, bay leaves, porcini, reserved porcini soaking liquid (don’t tip in gritty bits settled at bottom) and seared Bison. Turn heat up slightly, mix, bring to simmer, then cover. Adjust heat so it is simmering gently, not energetically.
8. Cook for 1 hr 45 minutes or until Bison is tender.
9. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over high heat until golden. Remove and reserve bacon drippings in pan. Add wild mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until golden all over. Return bacon into skillet, toss to coat wild mushrooms, then stir through stew.
10. Simmer stew, uncovered, for 15 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Then remove from stove and cool.
1. Preheat the oven to 390F.
2. Pour stew into your preferred pie dish, even out surface. Pictured pie dish 7” inch cast iron 3. Top with puff pastry (I baked the puff pastry prior to topping it. I cut the puff pastry to the size of the cast iron pan and then brushed with egg yolk then bake for 20 minutes until light golden. You can also top the puff pastry and bake together with pie dish and filling (Baking time is 30 mins if baking together). ***Tip: To ensure the pie is piping hot in the middle stick a knife in to check.
4. Rest for 5 minutes before serving!
Notes: Wild Mushrooms (Porcini is my favorite) adds a savoury earthiness to the sauce. It gives a natural “umami" taste and it really takes this pie to the next level. Any slow cooking cut of Bison is ideal for this recipe. Bison Chuck if you have small budget, and Bison Short Ribs if you have more to spend are my favourites, brisket is also good. I would not recommend using blade roast or other lean cuts of Bison as they will dry out.