Wild Venison, Kale, and Blue Berry Pemmican Bars

Recipe by Editor-in-Chief J. Townsend.

Pemmican is probably the first protein bar ever in existence. The root of this super food can be traced to the American Indians who recognized the value of dried meat as a safe storage method and an item that was easily transported. They realized that a person could not maintain their health solely on dried meat while they traveled and hunted game.  Dried berries, such as choke cherries, blue berries and blackberries, were added to the dried meat to help give that extra boost of vitamins and minerals that the body needed. Tallow, also known as rendered fat, was added to the dried meat and dried berries as a way to bind the two together.

The origin of the word Pemmican is from the Cree language but pemmican was widely used across North America by various tribes. The popularity of pemmican grew when contact with Europeans was made. The European trappers and settlers learned from the American Indians and adopted the use of pemmican in their exploration endeavors. The popularity of pemmican has grown over time and has been used all over the world by soldiers, sailors, explorers, hunters, and adventurers.

There is only one major drawback to the traditionally prepared pemmican. Like many other traditional dishes; they were created to be functional not flavorful. It tastes like dog food plain and simple. If you look around the internet there are many variations on the traditional pemmican recipe which try to improve or change the standard recipe.

I am headed into the backcountry to hunt Mule Deer so I wanted something that was light, will not spoil, and is tasty. I put my culinary brain to work and came up with this recipe of hearty healthy pemmicany deliciousness which adds some much needed flavor and additional nutrients to the traditional pemmican recipe. There are a couple of preparation steps so please read through the recipe before you start.

The Meat and Berries

Ingredients:

1 lbs ground Venison

12 fresh sage leaves, julienned very thin

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke

(2) 8.8 oz containers of fresh blue berries

Preparation:

  1. Set the berries aside.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl
  3. Form the meat into gold ball sizes balls and flatten into ¼” – ½” patties
  4. Place the patties on sheets in a food dehydrator
  5. Add the blue berries to the dehydrator
  6. Leave in the patties and berries in the dehydrator for 4-8 hours or until thoroughly dried. They will not be squishy anymore
  7. Break the patties into 1 inch chunks and add one by one to a food processor.
  8. Chop them up until they are a in a powdery consistency.
  9. Do the same with the dried berries.
  10. Set both items aside.

kale

The Kale

Ingredients:

1 bunch of Kale

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning ( I love this stuff if you can’t tell by now)

Preparation:

  1. Thoroughly wash the kale and clip the end of the stalks off
  2. Allow the kale to dry or use a salad spinner to dry the leaves
  3. Heat your oven to 350 degrees
  4. Toss the Kale in the Olive Oil
  5. Season with the Cajun Seasonings
  6. Place the Kale on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the leaves are crispy. Don’t worry if they turn a little brown.
  7. Place the Kale in a food processor and chop until they are a flaky consistency.
  8. You can leave the kale in the processor. We will be coming back to it.

The Tallow

I decided to use coconut oil instead of the rendered fat. Call me crazy but it just seemed right for several reasons. One, it improves the taste. Two, you gain an enormous amount of calories from coconut oil with some definite added benefits that you won’t find in the rendered fat.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup liquid coconut oil

1 tsp black pepper corns, ground in coffee grinder

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp salt

1/4  tsp ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

Preparation:

  1. Heat a small pan over high heat and add the mustard seeds and fennel seeds
  2. Toast the seeds in the pan for 2 minutes while stirring constantly
  3. Place the toasted seeds in the coffee grinder and grind to a fine consistency
  4. Bring a saute pan to medium heat
  5. Add the coconut oil and all of the spices
  6. All the mixture to cook for 1 minute so that the spices can infuse in the oil
  7. Remove from heat and sit the pan aside.

The Pemmican Bars. Finally!

Extra Ingredients:

½ cup of corn meal

2 cups of Old Fashioned Oats (Not Steel Cut)

Preparation

  1. Add the venison/blue berry powder mixture to the food processor which should contain the flaky kale
  2. Process these ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Keep the processor running and slowly add the spiced coconut oil to the processor
  4. The contents will begin to look like you have added too much liquid but do not fret
  5. Add the ½ cup corn meal
  6. You will see the mixture begin to clump up.
  7. Remove the mixture from the processor and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  8. Flatten the mixture to about ½ inch in thickness
  9. Cut into 2″ x 3″ bars or make into round patties
  10. I was able to produce 7 square patties from this
  11. Roll the patties in oats and shape accordingly

These pemmican bars will keep like this but I like to place them in the refrigerator overnight and then seal them in packages using my vacuum sealer. You can also just place them in zip lock bags or plastic wraps. I will warn you that they will be a little oily. Like I said in the beginning they were designed to be functional not convenient. I am taking these bars with me out into the mountains while backpacking this weekend. I will run them though a field test and report back on my findings.

Venison, kale, blueberry pemmican bars

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