We're under the weather in the McPhelps household so last night's meal was a quick and easy one. A few weeks ago, I was delighted to find homemade elk summer sausage at Laurel Creek Meats' Market in Maryville. I was even more delighted to find out that the elk is local. Elk actually used to be native to this area and in fact, was recently reintroduced to the Smokies and Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area a few years ago. Tracy Monday is also raising elk on his farm, along with bison and so Marcus and I bought a pound of ground elk and ground bison to try.
I'll be honest. I wasn't a huge fan of the ground bison. It was a bit too wild tasting for me which is discouraging because I'm really trying to enjoy local game meats more. However, it wasn't a visceral dislike - it just was a bit unfamiliar and I'm hoping that the more I eat it, the more I'll grow to like it. I did fall in love with the ground elk. It tasted like a wilder version of hamburger - like it came from a cow that scowled a lot, combed it's hair back in a pompadour and often cut out early from Calf 101. I'd love to experiment more with it.
For a side, we sauteed frozen, grated zucchini that I bought from our local farmer's market. At the risk of losing my gardening cred, I can't grow zucchini to save my life. Sure - I can grow all kinds of other tricky crops but zucchini always fails me. The one pest that plagues us is cucumber beetles - we have problems with other bugs but the beetles are our worst foe in the garden. I've gotten around the problem of cucumbers by planting County Fair - the only variety that is resistant to Bacterial Wilt that the beetles often carry. I've also grown Tromboncino squash in the past and they seem to be resistant but the past couple of years I've been too lazy to set up the sturdy trellis that they need to grow straight. And frankly, I can usually get zucchini from farmer friends for so cheap that it seems silly to worry too much about growing them, especially in our limited space.
I added a little bit of frozen, local onion and Tennessee Redneck to the zucchini and added a small bit of fresh ginger that our local co-op gets in from Alabama - not really local but about as local as I'm ever going to find ginger until we grow it ourselves. Some tamari sauce finished it off - the only non-local ingredient because we used a small bit of local beef tallow to saute the zucchini. It was a tasty and quick local meal - the best kind.