Monday, April 08, 2013

One man’s moose-meat lasagna is another man’s pork. (Does it taste like chicken?)

A few months ago, it was the horse meat that had found its way into the supply chain for European Burger King and the Tesco grocery store chain. And even into Ikea’s Swedish meatballs.

This time around, Ikea’s got a hoof-stock problem of another sort.

US Ikeans don’t need to worry, but if you were shopping in one of the European Ikeas, and decided that all that furniture assembly was going to call for a really hearty supper – and can moose lasagna be anything other than a hearty supper? – you may want to know that some pork had been slipped into the moose meat.

Not that there are probably a ton of super-assiduous kosher and halal observers who had loaded up their Ikea shopping carts with moose lasagna, but I’m sure that Ikea is not happy to have the news that their lasagna was not pure Bullwinkle, but also contained Porky Pig. Which is, I guess, better than finding out there was some Rocket J. Squirrel in the mix. (Squirrels are rodents, are they not?)

Moose meat is common in Sweden though it’s not typically used in lasagna.

Ikea has previously recalled meatballs and other meat products sold in its cafeterias and frozen foods sections after tests showed they contained traces of horsemeat.

The Swedish furniture giant is one of many European companies caught up in a scandal over mislabeled meat in frozen food products.

Ikea’s withdrawn products came from a Swedish frozen foods maker, which in turn blamed the mislabeling on its meat suppliers. (Source: AP Story on

The lasagna was only a smidge compromised – 1.6% pork – but it sill means that Ikea had to take 17,000 portions of moose lasagna out of circulation.

My taste in meat is fairly pedestrian.

My main go-to is chicken which, quite wonderfully, tastes like chicken.

At least once a year (Easter), I have ham. At least twice a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas), I eat turkey.  When we’re out to eat, I’ll sometimes order lamb, duck, steak, a big juicy hamburger, pork, or (I’m somewhat ashamed to admit) veal. Every decade or so I’ll have rabbit. Maybe. (It does actually taste like chicken.)

But gamey meat has no appeal: no lion, no tiger, no bear (oh, my!). And it pretty much goes without saying that nose-to-tail meat consumption is not something I go in for. I have tried sweetbreads, brain, and kidney – but that was pretty much just to say I tried it. Okay, in the case of brain, I ordered it by mistake. On my first trip to Paris, I remembered that “veau” was French for veal, but forgot that “cervelle” was French for brain. Mon dieu, the sneer on the face of that waiter when he plunked the dish down in front of moi. But I gamely ate what was put in front of me. Maybe not all, but some…And, by the way, kidneys do smell like piss.

But I was epi-curious about what moose might be like – curious enough to read about it, if not to actually ingest it.  So I was happy to find a post on Epicurious that contained an interview with an Alaskan locavore whose extended family munches its way through 600-1200 pounds of moose meat each year.  Which they hunt for themselves, which I absolutely have a tremendous amount of respect for. I’m quite sure that if I had to wring the neck of my chicken, or slit the throat of my pig, I’d be a full-bore vegetarian.

Anyway, there I learned that:

The meat is very dense, and because all their fat is stored between the hide and the muscle the meat is very, very lean. It tastes like its habitat -- moose eat a lot of willow, so to me it tastes like willow buds smell in the spring. It has a strong "gamey" taste, most people say. The age and gender of the moose also make a difference -- for example, a young cow is milder tasting than an older bull.

What I also found of interest is that the Alaskan locavore used her pressure cooker to tenderize her moose.

Ah, the pressure cooker.

My mother was a major user of the pressure cooker, mostly in the service of rendering nice crunchy green broccoli into a flaccid yellowish glop. She also used it to make Swiss steak.

Which, many long years ago, I attempted to replicate when I was in Worcester, in charge of the little kids while my mother was with my father, who was dying in a Boston hospital.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, much of a cook.

I have a few things I can rustle up – and rustle up pretty well – but mostly I do not enjoy cooking. I could live without it – and, mostly, I do. (Baking on the other hand… Now you’re talking.)

But one would think that after years of observing my mother in the kitchen, I might have noticed that, when the valve on top of the pressure cooker starts to sputter and whir, you turn the heat down under the pot.

Not I!

I chopped up the ingredients for that Swiss steak  - meat, peppers, onions, tomatoes -  threw it in the old pressure cooker, and pressure cooked away.

When I took the lid off, the grey flaccid glop made my mother’s yellow flaccid broccoli look (and taste) like an epicurean delight.

It was so dreadful, the dog wouldn’t eat it – and we had a dog who would eat just about anything.  I suspect that Grimbald would not have cared at all whether the moose lasagna was adulterated with pork. But I can understand why Ikea patrons might.


I do want to add that, for a large dog, Grim had an especially delicate way of unwrapping a stick of gum.

No comments: