Sunday, September 30, 2012

Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini - and Turkey Meatballs with Gravy

Georgia Pellegrini's book, Girl Hunter, chronicles her journey to hunt her own meat. It was our Kitchen Reader book club pick this month, chosen by Julie of Savvy Eats. Pellegrini says that hunting helped her enjoy her food more because of "the pleasures of knowing what occurred on the journey from the field to the table". She eloquently describes the craft of hunting and preparing game meat. Her book covers many different (North American) hunted animals, including wild turkey, dove, partridge, elk, pheasant, duck, boar, and many more.

I suppose I found this book hard to relate to. An American hunt in the bush is very far removed from my fast-paced Hong Kong life. And although Pellegrini did an admirable job of painting the worth and beauty of hunting your own food, I was somewhat unmoved. I am happy for others to have the job, and pleasure, if there is one, of the hunt. And I can enjoy what meat is made available to me. If this means I will never eat squirrel dumplings (a recipe for which is provided), then so be it.

I am not against hunting and I'm not a vegetarian. I'm happy to embrace the concept of killing animals for food and I want it done in a healthy way, for both the humans and animals. But I have no desire to pull the trigger of the shotgun myself on one of Pellegrini's Girl Hunter Weekends. (However, if you go, I would love to hear about it.)

The ground turkey available in my supermarket is not the wild turkey called for in Pellegrini's meatball recipe. But it made a delicious dinner for us a couple of friends.

Turkey Meatballs with Gravy
makes 20 meatballs, serves 4
adapted from Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini

for the meatballs:
2 T butter
1/2 c (60 g) chopped shallots
4 cloves minced garlic
450 g ground turkey
1 egg
3/4 c (115 g) oats
1/4 c (60 ml) sherry
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c (15 g) chopped fresh parsley
1/4 t allspice
1/2 t ground cardamom
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper

for the gravy:
3 c (750 ml) turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
4 T butter
3 T flour
1 T cranberry chutney (or lingonberry sauce or red currant jelly)
1/4 c (60 ml) plain yogurt

Heat the butter in a small skillet and add the shallots and garlic. Let soften for five minutes, then remove from heat and cool.

In a bowl, mix all the other meatball ingredients. Add the cooled shallots and mix well with your hands. Form into 20 small balls.

Heat the stock to simmering and remove from the heat.
Heat the butter in a large pan or pot. Add the meatballs (in batches, perhaps, if they don't all fit). Brown for 1 minute on each side; they do not need to be cooked through.
Remove the meatballs to a plate.

To the pan juices, add the flour and whisk well. Continue to cook for a few minutes until thick. Add the stock, whisking in a little at a time.
Let the gravy thicken slightly. Then return the meatballs to the pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the chutney and yogurt, and serve.

Would you like to hunt your own meat?

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