Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harvest Recipe: Choctaw Acorn Biscuits

All oaks in the northern hemisphere drop their acorns in the fall; in very northern climes that starts around the beginning of October.  Most associations that people make between acorns and Native tribes center around California native groups, because they were so famously an acorn culture.  But native groups from other parts of the country harvest acorns.  Groups in the southeast have various recipes for leeched acorns meal and biscuits, being such a southern staple for all ethnic groups, are an obvious choice for the real meal.  Acorn flour can be mail ordered, such as at Sue's; and some Korean markets carry it; but I will give leaching instruction at the bottom any way.  This particular recipe comes from a coffee table cookbook Spirit Of The Earth:  North American Indian Cooking by Beverly Cox (Author) & Martin Jacobs (photographer), the food editors for Native Peoples Magazine.  These can be fried--the dough actually makes a delicious frybread....it doesn't get more native than that!

Choctaw Acorn Biscuits

1/2 cup acorn meal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. lard, chilled--or 1 tbsp. each of chilled butter & Vegetable Shortening
Around 3 tbsp. milk
Jelly of choice

1.  Preheat oven to 400º degrees F.  In a mixing bowl combine dry ingredients.  Add the chilled fat and rub in well with your fingers until it resembles course meal.  Stir in milk.

2.  Flour a work surface and turn dough out onto surface and pat out until the dough is 1/2 inch thick.  Cut out 1 1/2 inch biscuits.  Grease a baking pan and place the cut biscuits on it.  Reduce oven heat to 375º F and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.  Serve with jelly.

Leaching Acorns:

This is the method actually used by the Choctaw people.  Cover fresh hulled acorn with water and bring it to a boil.  Boil for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain well and add more water, repeat the process at least again, check them for bitterness, if still bitter repeat until the bitter taste is gone (the liquid will look really weak tea).  Traditional the nut meats are sun dried, but in modern kitchens they are dried out at around 150º F.  Cool and grind in a mill for bread. Or chop finely for a coarser meal, which is the meal preferred by the Choctaw for this recipe.

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