Late June and through July is pretty much the height of our wild vegetable and herb season. Strawberries are finishing up, raspberries are starting to get ripe, with blueberries and cranberries to follow.
In the nettle patch, where most of the plants have gone to seed, we will soon see a new crop growing on the outer perimeter, ready for a second picking.
On the cliffs around most towns in the Yukon, the wild sage or artemisia frigidais in full swing.
I like to pick sage while it is still relatively young and aromatic. You can pick a bunch and freeze it for later use, or dry it and store it in an airtight container in a dark spot. Like spruce tips, you can also blend with salt, sugar or infuse with high quality olive oil for a treat that keeps on giving.
I find, however, one of the best ways to use wild sage is to pair it up with fat, whether it’s olive oil, pork fat, duck fat, goose fat or butter – you name it, sage loves fat!
If you don’t believe me, get your hands on some goose fat and slowly cook some potatoes in it with a few bunches of wild sage, season with cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt. Good lord…. That’s all I have to say about that.
Use Yukon wild sage as you would normal sage. It also has the benefit of being much fresher and cheaper than store bought! Try it in your Thanksgiving stuffing this fall or brown a little butter in a pan and add some chopped sage, and pour over a pan fried grayling or charr. You won’t be disappointed.
I want to talk about one more great way to use this wild herb: sausage. I find using wild sage in a breakfast sausage is one of the best ways to highlight the flavour of the meat, without drowning out the sage.
Fry some of these bad boys up next weekend for a knockout brekky!
Wild Sage Breakfast Sausage with Fresh Ginger
I like to do 5-lb batches at home, only because this quantity fits into my KitchenAid mixer bowl perfectly. If you don’t have a sausage stuffer, just follow the recipe and form the mix into little patties, and you’re good to go.
5lb/2.2 kg boneless pork shoulder, ground (get your butcher to do this for you if you don’t have a grinder; just make sure the meat used is shoulder)
10g Korean chili powder (or sub hot paprika)
50g peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
40g fresh Yukon wild sage
8g freshly ground black pepper
240ml ice water
20 feet of sheep casings (for small sausages) or 10 feet hog casings (for large sausages)
Combine all ingredients except casings together in a mixer with the paddle attachment.
Mix for about a minute on medium speed, until liquid is incorporated and the mixture starts to stick to the bowl. Alternatively, mix with a sturdy spoon in a bowl until meat becomes sticky.
Sauté a small portion and taste it. Adjust seasonings if you wish at this point.
Stuff the sausage into casings and twist into 4-inch links, or shape into patties with your hands.
Sauté or roast sausages to 150F in a pan with a little oil and butter.
Jeffery Mickelson, a professional chef, wild food fanatic and “offal” good guy, shares his passion for cooking at http://nose2tail.blogspot.com. Questions about food? Write to: [email protected].