Pemmican, that aboriginal food source, has always interested me: It needs no refrigeration, lasts almost indefinitely, and is nutritionally dense…sounds good right? A great meal to eat anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
The aboriginals of North America mixed tallow made from animal fat with dried meat and perfected this process of food storage, adding in dried berries for added nutrition and flavor.
My own attempt at making pemmican can only be described as frustrating to say the least. Not so much in the actual making of it, but in the sourcing of one of the main ingredients.
I was on the hunt for ‘pure’ product sources: grass finished beef suet and meat. The meat was not an issue, however getting my hands on the suet has proved problematic and I had to use a regular factory produced suet for now. I’m still hopeful of finding grass finished suet in the future. I have asked my pastured meat source to get some from her slaughter house next time they send in a cow.
Not having a dehydrator either, I used my gas oven set to the lowest temperature to dry out the meat. I used a lean cut, eye of the round roast, cut across the grain and laid over some cookie cooling racks. After 9 hours, they where were finally done. The tallow was made by putting the suet, already chopped up, into my slow cooker crock pot on low for 5 hours. I strained it through a paper towel and let it cool on the counter top in a large container.
The traditional way to pulverize the dried meat was to crush it between two stones, but seeing as I live in the future, I just used my trusty Kitchen-Aid food processor. It took a while to get it to a state that I felt was sufficiently ground – about 90% powder and 10% tiny bits (for texture).
I was ready to put all the pieces together and try different flavorings; Some spicy, some savory, and some ‘desserty’. I will write about how they turn out my next post.
Edit May 2013:
Real Meat #Paleo Protein Bars (aka Pemmican)
4 cups lean meat (deer, beef, caribou or moose)
3 cups dried fruit
2 cups rendered fat
Unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey
Meat should be as lean as possible and double ground from your butcher if you do not have you own meat grinder. Spread it out very thin on a cookie sheet and dry at 180 degrees F for at least 8 hours or until sinewy and crispy. Pound the meat into a nearly powder consistency using a blender or other tool. Grind the dried fruit, but leave a little bit lumpy for fun texture. Heat rendered fat on stove at medium until liquid. Add liquid fat to dried meat and dried fruit, and mix in nuts and honey. Mix everything by hand. Let cool and store. Can keep and be consumed for several years.