Yukon Territory Pemmican Recipe

Lena Anken Sexton shares her stories of Yukon Pete and his mother's homemade pemmican recipe made of moose meat, bear meat and fruit.

  • Wild moose
    The myth of Yukon Pete and his pemmican recipe made of moose and bear meat.

  • Wild moose

Once in a while you hit it lucky and meet someone like Yukon Pete.

Pete was born in Dawson half a century plus ten or fifteen years ago, and grew up on a wilderness farm where the family had a milk cow, raised their own pork, planted a big garden, and lived off the land. And, of course, they made good use of the north country's plentiful wild game . . . fresh, canned, smoked, and preserved as pemmican.

It's been fifty years since Pete ate his mother's pemmican, but he remembers it as if it were yesterday . . . and here's the pemmican recipe.

Yukon Pete's Pemmican Recipe

One-third lean bear meat
One-third lean moose meat
One-third lean pork scraps
Salt, pepper, sage
Bear grease

To paraphrase another celebrated recipe, "First catch your bear." Lucky hunters might substitute other wild meats — venison or elk, maybe — for those listed above, to add the true pemmican flavor that only game can give. Us tenderfeet, though, may have to imitate the mountain men of the old West, accept the fact that "meat's meat", and use what we can get. Now about beef, pork, and mutton? (Pete's recipe is somewhat unusual in that it calls for fresh meat. More often, pemmican was made from jerky. — MOTHER.)  

Whatever makings you decide on, grind them with the medium blade of your, food chopper, mix 'em well, and season with salt and pepper (and, occasionally, sage for a change of pace). Then cook the whole shebang together with very little water — just enough to steam rather than boil the pan's contents — until the meats are done. Toward the end of the process, remove the lid from the kettle to let the moisture evaporate while retaining the rich juices.

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