We would like to welcome UNP's new marketing manager, Martyn Beeny to his first blog post. He comes to UNP from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press in Pierre, SD, where he was Marketing Director and Associate Editor since 2005.
The first week on the job is always a whirl, a shimmering mirage, where you keep thinking you are grasping the nuances of your new job and the wonderful people you are meeting all around you, only to realize that you cannot actually reach out and grab it—the mirage is the idea that you have any idea about what you are doing, of course.
You meet a lot of new people, you try to learn their names as quickly as possible, you move things around in your new office; all things you expect. What I didn’t expect was to find myself standing in front of the stove after work this week trying to cook sautéed penguin. Ok, hold on. Before someone writes to PETA and sends them my name, I was not actually cooking penguin; that is illegal! And yet, I did find myself in front of the stove attempting to replicate a dish from our recent title, Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine by Jason C. Anthony.
Aside from the wonderful writing that describes so eloquently the harsh cuisine of the Antarctic, Anthony included in his book a selection of recipes from various points in Antarctica’s history. As I flicked through the pages during that first, whirlwind week, one, that for sautéed penguin, caught my eye. As mentioned above, it is illegal to kill/cook penguin, but my mind instantly wondered if the recipe might be adapted slightly to use a legal ingredient so that the modern reader might entertain himself (and hopefully others) with fare from the south.
I don’t claim to be a chef, but I think I can follow directions given in a recipe. That assumption led me to the aforementioned position in front of the stove and to the photo diary below. Today, I shall feed my fellow workers with sautéed “penguin.” We’ll let you know what they think!
Having traveled to Antarctica to spear my penguin (purchased Cornish game hen from the frozen section in the local grocery store), I plucked and cleaned it (defrosted it, opened the packaging, and removed as much meat as I could!), and melted the butter. The original recipe in Hoosh called for a whopping four ounces of butter. I halved that. I’m guessing that penguin meat requires a little more cooking than the rather more fragile game hen I had substituted.
Not wanting my meal to taste too bland, I added garlic to the recipe and used fresh onion rather than dried (because that is what I had in the fridge).
The recipe does not suggest an accompanying drink. Perhaps it was a little tough to get fine wine in Antarctica at the time, but I do not think recipes should be taken too literally at the best of times, so might I suggest a nice southern-hemisphere red such as this Malbec from Argentina.
The cookbook of choice has an unusual front cover—not what you would expect to find on the front of a Rachel Ray cookbook, but eye-catching and effective if you ask me. The photo instantly reminded me of the standoff in the grocery store. I came out of the scrap for the game hen bloodied but successful.
The recipes referred to in Hoosh understandably make use of a lot of canned goods, and this one is no exception—heavy on the tomatoes (diced and soup). At this stage, I was just trying to reduce the liquid a little bit. I had seasoned the concoction with salt, pepper, and mixed herbs as suggested. I just hope it has enough flavor and that the “penguin” has not been lost in the acid of the tomatoes. We shall see . . . I hope I don’t poison the marketing team!
Marketing team survived; some even had good things to say about the dish! The dish is heavy on the tomatoes and this particular attempt may have benefited from a little more pepper and herbs. However, if any of us ever find ourselves in Antarctica and have a can of tomatoes and a can of tomato soup handy, we should be able to whip up a wonderful batch of sautéed penguin to stave off the cold!
Recipe (Courtesy of Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine by Jason Anthony):
Penguin breasts (substitute duck or Cornish game hen or chicken)
1 cup dried onions (fresh onion also works)
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin tomato soup
4 ounces butter (halved in my attempt)
Salt and pepper
(I added 1 clove garlic, chopped)
Cut the breasts into small pieces and fry in the butter until brown then add the onion. Drain the tomatoes and mash half the tin into a purée, then stir into the meat and onion mixture. (I used diced tomatoes and skipped the mashing part. Add salt and pepper and mixed herbs and the tomato soup. Simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. (Our tasting group suggested that this dish might be served on a bed of fusilli if desired.)