Updated: May 8
Pemmican is an Indigenous staple consisting of dried meat (fish, duck, goose, elk, deer, buffalo, etc.), fat or tallow, dried berries, seeds, and/or wild rice. This is a staple food that has every nutrient you need to survive and thrive. It's full of nutritious fat, complex carbohydrates, complete protein, antioxidants, vitamin A,B,&C, and so much more. The word comes from the Cree word pimîhkân, which is derived from the word pimî, "fat, grease".
Pemmican is something I send with my kids for their hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping trips. They love it and I love knowing they're eating well and with an honorable harvest.
Pemmican varies from tribe to tribe and from family to family. This is my recipe:
2 duck breasts with skin
1 TBS coarse salt
3 TBS pure Maple Syrup
1/2 C dried blue berries
1/2 C dried strawberries (tops on)
1/4 C Amaranth (uncooked)
1/4 C Wild Rice (uncooked)
1/4 C raw unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1-2 TBS raw Honey
If you're drying your berries on your own (I do) you'll want 1 C each of fresh berries. Wash well and either process in a food dehydrator, in the oven at 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 hours or until dried, or sun dried in dryer climates.
Carefully skin the fat and duck skin off of the meat. Cube the skin and set aside for later.
Slice the duck meat into thin strips, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
In a small bowl combine salt and maple syrup. Mix well.
Dip each strip of duck meat in the maple syrup mixture, coating all sides, and lay on a wire rack or screen. You can use a dehydrator if you have one using the instructions for making jerky. I use my oven at 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit for about six hours.
Using a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron skillet add the duck skin and on a very low temperature render the fat for about 45 minutes. The skin will shrink immensely and once it's a dark golden brown it's done.
Remove the fried duck skin and let dry on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
Strain the duck fat through a tightly woven sieve, or thickly lined colander with cheese cloth.
In a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron skillet heat 1 TBS duck fat at medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles and dissipates quickly add the amaranth. It will immediately start popping so stir immediately. When it's all golden brown it's done. Put the popped amaranth in a mixing bowl and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron skillet heat 1 TBS duck fat at medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles and dissipates quickly add the wild rice. Once the rice is popped and a deep golden brown it's done. Add the wild rice to the amaranth.
In the same heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron skillet add the sunflower seeds (don't add more fat). Stir often or toss to toast the seeds until they're a nice roasted brown. Add to the amaranth and wild rice.
Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade add the dried duck meat and pulse until the consistency of small grains of rice.
Add the dried berries to the food processor and pulse again until the consistency of small grains of rice and powder.
Add 1-2 TBS raw honey and 2 TBS of the reserved duck fat and pulse until mixed well.
Pour the food processor mixture into the mixing bowl with the amaranth, sunflower seeds, and wild rice. Mix will with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Add the rest of the duck fat until the mixture will hold together. It will still be difficult to hold together but keep at it.
I use a tiny ice-cream scoop or a small coffee scooper to measure out small equal amounts and to form into small balls. Lightly press into the scoop or spoon and place on a cutting board or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place in the refrigerator to set and then place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.