Last year we went deer hunting. It was a day of crawling, climbing and scrambling through thorny forest and loose scree slopes. Our guides/companions were fleet of foot and spoke an indecipherable brand of Spanish. We saw not a single deer. We ended up empty handed and covered in bug bites, bruises and puncture wounds. This year our friends had better luck without us and shared some venison machaca as a belated consolation prize. Machaca is a dried salted meat. It is very similar to jerky but it is harder and saltier. I’ve had some pretty good machaca in Mexico. It’s a little chewy, kind of dry and salty. Wrapped up in a tortilla it makes a nice snack. It’s durable and holds up well under tough storage conditions. Burt asked our gift givers how to turn the cedar shingle like meat into something edible. Use a hammer was their response.
This morning the neighborhood woke to the sound of Burt hammering. Burt hammered a long time. Many pondered what Burt was making. A new table? Some chairs. He hammered for over an hour. It must be something large and grand. No, Burt was hammering meat. After an hour he had a bowl of dried, shredded, salty shavings. It was not very appetizing. He soaked it. It was still very salty so I suggested he soak it again. He fried the significantly softer meat in butter with onions and tomatoes and corn. The result was like a bacon burrito. Maybe one more soak or some beans, eggs, potatoes would have improved it but I liked it well enough. It’s a traditional food preserved in the traditional way. It was fun to enjoy.