Chef dishes out flavours from all three territories
Keith Beatty/torstar news service
Chef Pierre LePage serves smoked wild char slices, muskox prosciutto with cheese, and caribou tartar with quail egg.
If you can only dine in one of Canada’s northern territories, don’t ask chef Pierre LePage to pick it for you.
“I won’t tell you which territory is better than the other one,” the acclaimed French-trained chef told Metro recently. “You’ll probably want to visit all three.”
The tastes of Canada’s north were on display in Toronto, as representatives from all three territories including the premiers visited the city to promote tourism.
LePage, who owns and operates two restaurants in Yellowknife, L’Heritage Restaurant Français, and Le Frolic Bistro/Bar, accompanied them. He offered a selection of foods at the event to give Torontonians a small taste of the far north.
From Nunavut, the chef presented cold-smoked wild char slices, and hot-smoked Arctic char mousse, served on pumpernickel rounds. The flavours of Yukon took shape in bite-sized portions of caribou tartar topped with quail eggs on white bread. And the taste of the Northwest Territories was offered in the form of mipkuzola — wild muskox prosciutto — topped with cheese.
For those looking to incorporate some northern tastes into their dishes, LePage said he likes to use berries in his foods because of their tart flavour, which complements the taste of wild game. “Not a heck of a lot grows up north,” he said. “We have a short growing season.”
Along with lots of fresh fish, northern cuisine also offers lots of wild buffalo, bison and caribou.
And, unlike Toronto, the game in the far north grows in the wild and is hunted and taken to local governmental slaughterhouses.
While several farms in Ontario grow and sell bison, caribou meat is harder to come by. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources lists caribou as a protected species under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which means a special licence is needed in order to sell caribou in the province.
Roasted Bison Tenderloin with Rosemary Peppercorn Crust and Gorgonzola Butter
4 x 175 g bison tenderloin (trimmed) (bison could be replaced by musk-ox, deer, elk or even beef)
100 g gorgonzola cheese (Room Temperature)
75 g unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 tbsp shallots (finely chopped)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup fresh Rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cracked peppercorn
Salt & pepper to taste
In a small mixing bowl, stir together gorgonzola cheese, butter, garlic and shallots until smooth.
On a plastic wrap, form the cheese butter into a round tub/log about 6 in. long. Wrap firmly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Butter can be made days ahead.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a 12-in. heavy cast-iron skillet, heat olive oil to moderate high heat until smoking and sear the tenderloin until browned, about 2 minutes on each side to rare. Put aside to cool down.
Mix rosemary and peppercorn together and when meat is just cool enough to handle, brush mustard on all sides and coat meat with the rosemary-peppercorn mixture. Roast in oven for about 6-8 minutes to medium rare (coating should start to colour).
Put meat on cutting board and let sit for a couple minutes. Cut gorgonzola butter into 8 pieces of about 1/4 in. slices.
Cut each tenderloin in half and tuck a gorgonzola butter slice between halves. Top the meat with another slice and serve.
Caribou Rack with Maple Cranberry and Port Wine Reduction (Serves 4)
2 rack of caribou
250 ml northern cranberries
125 ml maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 ml shallots, finely chopped
375 ml game stock (or beef broth)
20 ml brandy
30 ml port wine
60 ml red wine
10 ml olive oil
2.5 ml cracked peppercorn
In a saucepan, bring the maple syrup to boil for about one minute. Add cranberries and cook for another 2 minutes. Strain the berries and set the syrup aside for later.
Pour oil into hot frying pan and cook the meat on all sides until rare.
On a tray, finish meat in hot oven to medium rare just before serving
In the same frying pan, add shallots, garlic and peppercorn and sauté until the shallots are translucent.
Flambé with brandy then add the port & red wine; cook until the sauce has reduced by half. Add the maple syrup and stock. Simmer until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then add the cranberries, and salt and pepper to taste.