Friday, September 5, 2008

Wild Food: Stink Currant Jam

...with [not wild] tongue wrapped in stink currant leaves.

First go for an adventure in the woods. There are hundreds if not thousands of stink currant bushes in Crippen Park, reaching fragile awkward limbs toward any place sun breaks through the canopy of cedar, hemlock and fir. Sadly, the pale blue powdery berries are usually few and far between, and it takes a long journey to find enough for a small jar of jam. Thankfully the forest-experience alone is reason enough to take the journey! (See the bucket? The 7 berries collected so far soon found their way to the forest floor, and henceforth the berries were carried in pockets.)

Collect a big handful of stink currant leaves. At home, boil and skin a steer's tongue, then marinate it briefly in a warm red wine. Place it in a casserole with about 1/2 - 1 inch of wine still around it. Wrap it tightly in the leaves, and attach with toothpicks, pinning on a halved clove of garlic each time. The leaves' scent is earthy and strong, and will give a very slight "forest" flavour to the meat. Cover and roast for at least 2 hours, basting with the wine every so often.

Stink currant jam: Add a small amount of water to the gathered stink currants in a pot (do not cover), and cook until the currants become mushy. When the mixture begins to resemble jam, add enough sugar to bring out the flavour, without masking it. It will be reasonably bitter and earthy-tasting. Continue to cook and mash until it becomes a good jam.

Eat! Unwrap the roast, and serve with a bit of the warm jam, and maybe some fresh vegetables from the garden or forest! We had it with beans, zucchini, and potatoes.

Oh yes -- and definitely invite somebody to dinner to share the bounty.