Critic-Turned-Cook Gets Her Game (Meat) On


Alpha Sigma Phi Nick David making Sloppy Joes with moose meat. [Photographs: Leslie Kelly]

Game is the new bacon.

Well, maybe not yet. But if artisan farmers have become culinary superstars, can hunters be far behind? When I used to review restaurants, I was always drawn to exotic game meat—I've eaten elk, venison, antelope, alligator, pheasant, grouse and ostrich. (Still don't know why ostrich never took off; it tastes like steak and has a fraction of the fat.) I'm crazy about rabbit and would never say no to roast bear.

Darlene Barnes, my boss at Alpha Sigma Phi, the frat at the University of Washington where I've been prep cooking since September, once again demonstrated her considerable chops last week. She hit the bull's eye when she served moose meat Sloppy Joes. The guys went nuts. The father of one of the brothers bagged a moose in Montana (thank you, Daniel!) and Darlene subbed it for the ground beef in that retro comfort food. (I half-jokingly suggested renaming the dish "Sloppy Bullwinkles," but that classic cartoon reference seemed to sail over their heads like a Flying Squirrel.)

Until last week, I had only had a close encounter on a hiking trail with a moose, but had never eaten one. The ground meat was ultra-lean and had a slight sweetness, a quality that worked well with the Sloppy Joes recipe. Darlene is also going to use the meat to make moose meatballs and a Spanish rice casserole. The Sloppy Joes were such a hit that they might find their way on the menu again.

A girlfriend of one of the Alpha Sigs made tracks to lunch that day just to try one of those messy sandwiches and she raved about it: "I love manly meals!"

Man, I do too! What about you? Are you ready to get your game on?

About the author: Former Seattle Post-Intelligencer restaurant critic Leslie Kelly has been working in professional kitchens since the newspaper folded in March and chronicling her culinary journey from pen to pan for Serious Eats. She also blogs at and recently launched a story-telling project for Northstar Winery following one wine from the vine to the table.

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