Timberlake's Feast with Cherokee Bread
This dish is a collection of individual pieces that come together to make a whole feast. Game meat like deer pairs well with the beans, potatoes, corn, and acorn squash. While traditionally this was all eaten by hand in a party setting, nowadays, eating at the table with utensils gets you fewer strange looks. The gravy naturally produced by the deer goes well with the vegetables and bread, and the bread itself is a unique native precursor to southern style cornbread, prepared by covering the baking vessel with hot ashes and was particularly tasty to ensign Henry Timberlake as he traveled through Cherokee country.
- acorn squash
- deer or fish your choice of cut
- hominy corn
- bear grease or cooking oil
- black pepper
- Begin by cooking the beans and hominy until done by bringing them to boil over a hot stove or fireplace. Cook until soft and well done. Seasoning should be done about halfway through the cooking process, when the beans begin to soften and the hominy begins to absorb moisture. Fat or shortening should be added before herbs and spices.
- Potatoes should be peeled and cut into bite sized chunks or cubes and washed once with cold water to remove extra starch before boiling. Potatoes should be seasoned after being drained to better take on the fat and flavors.
- Squash should be prepared in a manner similar to the potatoes, cooking until tender and flavorful. For each of these dishes, if you cook it until it falls apart, you've gone too far.
- Place your cut of deer it in a pot or slow cooker. Add salt, seasonings, and shortening. Animal fat from deer or bear preferred for traditional preparation.
- Cover with water and add fresh herbs such as sage, bay, or any available seasoning. Turn to high and bring to a boil.
- When the meat has browned on one side, turn over and let cook another 2 hours. Continue process for another 7-8 hours for a mid-sized roast.
- Cook until the meat is soft enough to flake with a fork. The water should be reduced to a gravy that can accompany the vegetables. Serve atop hominy and beans.
- Begin with cornmeal, preferably unbolted. Mix wheat flour into cornmeal at a ratio of 3 parts cornmeal to 2 parts flour. Mix in a bit of bear grease (cooking oil will do).
- Add baking powder, salt, and 1 egg. Mix well until you have a thick batter that can hold its own shape.
- Oven method: Preheat to 375 degrees, bake for 15-20 min, covered with lid or foil for a moist, light bread.
- Fireplace method: With a large flat rock, lay down some sifted wood ash, then lay mixture down into round loaf shape. Cover with another iron pot or heatproof clay vessel, then cover with coals from the fire. Continue to layer coals for several minutes. After 15 min, use a tool to remove the coals and top cover. Bread should be done.