The wool socks and fleece jackets are out, the waffle maker is making itself cozy on the kitchen counter and the freezer is bursting with wild fish, berries and game meat. Leaves are adorned in their fiercest red and gold attire and everyone is commenting (or freaking out) about the termination dust's first greeting. It's my favorite time of the year.
Harvest is the celebration of our local bounty and payoff for hard work and dirty fingernails. The word "October" makes my mouth water, promising seasonal tastes and smells. Moose burgers, apple pie, smoked salmon, highbush cranberry jam, caribou vindaloo, soup, soup, soup and pumpkin everything. Fall is the relative that gives you presents every time you visit, the victory lap, the cork popping on a champagne bottle. It is pure celebration and decadence. In Alaska, we know to savor every day of it.
This week I wanted to share a recipe that embodies the essence of fall, so I asked chef Rob Kinneen for his stellar elk meatloaf recipe. Born in Petersburg, Kinneen is Tlingit and a champion for Alaska culture and cuisine. His philosophy of sourcing ingredients locally and seasonally has influenced his work as chef in some of Southcentral's top restaurants, including the Seven Glaciers restaurant at the Alyeska Resort, Crow's Nest, Orso and Crush Wine Bistro. Kinneen's newest venture, Fork Catering, co-owned with Dave Thorne (aka "Delicious Dave"), debuted in October. Bon appétit!
Rolled elk meatloaf
By chef Rob Kinneen of Fork Catering. Recommended served with a side of roasted Alaska-grown potatoes and wilted spinach.
2.5 pounds local ground elk meat* (beef, caribou or moose would also work well)
2.5 pounds local pork, ground
16 ounces bread crumbs
20 ounces 1 percent milk
3 ounces tomato paste
2 ounces fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peeled garlic
1 pound yellow onions
1 pound carrot?s
1/2 pound parsnips
1 pound broccoli crowns
1 pound shredded pepper jack cheese
ketchup and Sriracha for the top
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the bread crumbs, milk, tomato paste, herbs, black pepper and garlic. Set aside.
2. Roast the onions, carrots and parsnips. Blanch broccoli. Cool down and rough chop, then set aside.
3. Add your bread crumb mixture to the meat and mix by hand.
4. Set up sheet pan with plastic wrap covering bottom.
5. Spread meat/bread crumb mix on pan, covering three-quarters of the sheet pan. Leave 3 inches of the upper side of the sheet pan unfilled.
6. Spread veggies over the meat about 1 inch from all edges, then sprinkle cheese all over.
7. Pull the plastic from the edges -- roll over starting from the top toward the bottom.
8. Transfer to parchment-lined sheet pan, placing the folded side down at angle, then secure the paper with a fork. Be sure to remove all plastic from the meatloaf.
9. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
10. Cut at 6-ounce portions. Give two 6-ounce portions per serving.
* Look for elk at your local farmers market or source directly from an Alaska farm, such as Mat-Valley Meats, Delta Meat and Sausage Company, Alaska Interior Game Ranch, Misty Mountain Farms, Northern Lights Elk Ranch, Little Pitchfork Ranch, Stockwell Farm or the Kodiak Game Ranch.
Shannon Kuhn lives in Anchorage, where she writes about food and culture.