The Yukon Culinary Festival – Local Food, Under the Midnight Sun
I know you think I’ve gone mad and I can hear you asking – why on earth is this woman writing about the Yukon Culinary Festival? Simple – it’s a distinctive regional food festival in a fascinating part of the world that I don’t know enough about AND I’m about to go there!!Unfortunately, I couldn’t schedule my trip to coincide with the festival this year, but I wanted to give you a little hint of the unique foods and produce found in this extraordinarily historic region, a region whose food culture is just beginning to make it’s voice heard.
This is a food festival with a difference and both locals and visitors will head to the Yukon Culinary Festival from 31 July to 3 August 2014, to sample delicacies from this extraordinary northern Canadian territory under the glowing midnight sun. A lot of the Yukon’s food is very distinctive but difficult to produce commercially, so there are many boutique producers. Being so far north presents special challenges to the food producing community of Yukon, not least of which is the shortened growing season but their northern location also means long sunlight hours that promote a unique summer growing season. The climate is a significant constraint, making those who persist especially passionate about their produce.
I can’t wait to try the food of this region – a lot of which are utterly unique, including wild seafood such as Alaskan salmon, Arctic grayling, trout, Kokanee salmon, Alaska king crab, as well as moose meat, bison, mountain goat, caribou and porcupine which are often eaten in burgers. The region is famous for its incredible root vegetables, made sweet from their home in the cold soil along with berries, morels (prized mushrooms) and fireweed, the territory’s official flower, from which divine jams are created.
If you’d like to have a peek at last years event – the first ever Yukon Culinary Festival – then here’s a quick video.
And if you’d like to get into the mood for a midnight sun feast, here’s a fabulous burger recipe to whip up over the weekend. I’d suggest that it is very easily adaptable to local meats, especially kangaroo. If you prefer to keep it genuine then, first, catch your bison …
Yukon Bison Burgers with Oven Fries
- 900 g lean ground bison
- 2 egg whites
- 4 tbsp 60 mL thick barbecue sauce
- 2 tsp 10 mL Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup 125 mL cooked multigrain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup 60 mL pickled capsicum, chopped
- 1/2 tsp 2 mL steak spice
- 1/4 tsp 1 mL salt
- 1/2 tsp 2 mL black pepper, coarsely ground
- 1/4 tsp 1 mL cayenne pepper
- 8 small whole wheat buns or multigrain burger buns
- 120 g sharp cheddar cheese sliced thinly
- fresh spinach leaves or pickles or Tomato slices or mustard
- tomato sauce or mayonnaise to taste
- 2 tbsp 30 mL fresh parsley, chopped
- Oven Fries
- 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes or Australian alternative, about 400 g each
- 1 tbsp 15 mL extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp 2 mL cayenne
- 1/2 tsp 2 mL dried herbs
- 3 cups 750 mL mushrooms, sliced
- 2 medium onions sliced
- 1 tsp 5 mL Worcestershire sauce
- Green Onion Dip
- 1-1/2 cups 375 mL natural Yogurt, with no gelatin, drained for 1 hour
- 4 tbsp 60 mL olive oil mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp 30 mL green onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp 30 mL fresh herbs, (try chives, oregano, thyme, cilantro, and Italian parsley)
- 1/4 tsp 1 mL onion powder
- 1/2 tsp 2 mL black pepper, ground
- 2 tbsp 30 mL red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp 10 mL Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp 10 mL Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp 5 mL anchovy paste
- Burger patties: In a large bowl, combine ground bison, egg whites, barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, bulgur, steak spice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and capsicum by hand (mixing by hand instead of a spoon will produce a juicier burger). When well-combined, form into 8 patties and refrigerate until ready for cooking.
- Oven fries: Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius. Wash potatoes (do not peel) and cut into french-fry shaped strips. Toss in olive oil, 1/2 tsp each of cayenne and dried herbs. Spread on a large cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms and onions in cooking spray, adding Worchestershire sauce when the mushrooms' water has evaporated and they are slightly browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Make dip for fries: Combine 2/3 of the drained yogurt, 2 tbsp of the mayonnaise, green onion, fresh herbs, and onion powder. Add ground black pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Cook burgers: Grill burger patties on a medium grill until medium-well, about 7 minutes per side, topping with sliced cheese for last two minutes of cooking. Lightly toast buns on grill for last minute of cooking.
- Assemble burgers: Top each bun with one patty, a couple of spoonfuls of mushrooms and onions, and let your guests garnish with their choice of fresh spinach leaves, pickles, tomato slices, mustard, ketchup, low-fat mayo, and anything else you want to offer.
- Serve fries hot out of the oven and tossed with black pepper and chopped parsley, with green-onion dip on the side.