Spice of the Week: Juniper

Juniper is a spice with a strong folk tradition, and even today it still instills a sense of superstition in a number of people. Let’s take a look at its history to find out why …

Ancient folk tales claim that juniper bushes and berries were safe havens for people trying to flee harm. It is said that Jesus’ family took refuge under the branches of a juniper bush while fleeing from King Herod. Other folk tales say that souls of the dead can linger in a juniper, in the hope of returning to life, and that juniper sprigs can ward off the devil. Juniper was also once believed to guard against the plague. Harming a juniper tree was thought to cause bad luck, or in some cases, even death. More at the BLE!

Alternate recipe: Wild game steaks

4 wild game steaks (about 125 g)
2 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white flour
500 ml beef broth
3 teaspoons ground juniper berries
pepper, salt   

Heat three tablespoons butter in a pan, add flour while stirring constantly to make a brown roux. Remove from heat and slowly mix in broth. Return to heat, add juniper and simmer for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Season to taste and keep warm. In a larger pan, heat the remaining butter and oil, lay in steaks and cook on medium heat for about 6 minutes. Season steaks, transfer to plates and top with gravy. An appropriate side dish is vegetables in butter.

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