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Will on the Grill: Love, Cree Style

BY Will Nicholls Jan 30, 2020

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and I have a few suggestions for those of you who want to impress your significant other’s taste buds. We’ve heard, once or twice, that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I have discovered that it’s also a pretty good way to impress the woman in your life.

And, yes, Virginia, there are bragging rights that mean more than getting a pair of earrings, a subscription to a magazine or a gift card from Amazon. Being able to tell co-workers and friends about the tasty meal made specially for you with their own two hands – that will get the oohs and aahs. You may not have been able to brag about the macaroni picture of mommy, daddy, uncle or auntie that the kids made (I hope it wasn’t your significant other in this case), but this is something cool.

Well, yes, I got a gift card from Amazon too but… [slight pause] the meal he/she made was unexpected and great. I thanked him/her in that special way they liked afterwards [pause for delighted scandalous and envious looks].

On to the recipes. I have included the easy, the cheap, the tasty and the decadent.

Louisiana Style Shrimps

This is a simple recipe using inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients. If you’re unsure of your kitchen abilities, then this one is for you. I’ve enjoyed it myself. Mildly spicy to heavy depending on taste buds and their needs. Some like it hot!

3 tbsp butter

1 teaspoon chopped onion

2/3 cup cooked or canned shrimp (break into pieces, if not already)

2/3 cup hot cooked rice

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp salt or salt substitute

1/4 tsp celery salt

3 tbsp ketchup (optional)

pinch of cayenne pepper to taste

1. Over medium heat cook butter with onions for 5 minutes, stirring the whole time.

2. Add shrimp, rice and cream, again stirring all the time.

3. When thoroughly heated add remaining ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste to see whether to add more cayenne.

Partridge Sauté Chasseur

You can use either grouse or ptarmigan with this recipe. I’d even be tempted to try it with duck but haven’t yet. You will need to do a little work to make it happen. First you will have to shoot or otherwise get obtain a few birds. Hint: you might want to check out trees near your true love. Then make sure you have all the ingredients and you’re on your way.

2 partridges


salt/salt substitute/pepper

1 stalk celery

3 slices carrot

2 slices onion

2 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

4 1/2 tbsp flour

3/4 cup stew and strained tomatoes

lemon juice

1 tsp finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup canned mushrooms sliced

cayenne pepper

  1. Separate breasts from partridge. Lay aside. Cut and break up remaining parts of partridges.
  2. In a pan cover with cold water, add carrots, celery, onion parsley and bay leaf. When it is reduced to 3/4 cup stop as you have made stock for the next part.
  3. Make a sauce from 3 tbsp of butter, flour, stock (above) and tomatoes. As it is cooking over a medium heat, season to taste with the salt/salt substitute, cayenne and lemon juice. When it tastes just right add the chopped parsley and mushrooms. Let simmer gently.
  4. Take the breasts and cut them in half to make them thinner and sauté in butter. Season with pepper and salt/salt substitute.
  5. Arrange on breasts on dishes and ladle sauce over them.

Will’s Shepherd’s Pie

Everyone, except vegetarians, love Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a comfort food that will have your love interest feeling right at home. Something mom or dad would make for the whole family and they’ll feel while they feed loving memories. But it’s Valentine’s Day so you have to step it up to show you are more than just a memory of their parents’ cooking. Here’s a recipe with a personal touch that will make you stand out from the crowd.

1-2 lbs ground beef (hamburger) (can substitute moose or caribou hamburger)

herbs: a pinch each of rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley and marjoram

salt/salt substitute and pepper to taste

5 garlic cloves

2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp Worcester sauce

150 ml V8 or Garden Cocktail (can use tomato juice)

1 bay leaf

2 cans corn niblets

3 large potatoes

1 can beef broth

1 medium onion chopped finely

shredded yellow cheese


olive oil


  1. Boil water and add 1 tsp cayenne pepper. When boiling add potatoes that are cut into small cubes to cook faster.
  2. Take hamburger with half of onion and start to cook in frying pan at medium heat. When mostly brown add salt/pepper and finish browning.
  3. Take herbs, Worcester, bay leaf, rest of onion, V8 juice and beef broth. Mix together and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Then add to hamburger.
  4. After 20 minutes from start the potatoes should be ready to mash. Test using fork to see if they are ready. Take a tablespoon of butter, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mash. Then add rest of garlic pressed and remaining cayenne pepper. Mix well and slowly add just enough milk to fluff up mashed potatoes.
  5. By this time the liquid in the hamburger should be reduced a bit. Put it in the bottom of a casserole dish, evening it with a fork to make it level. Then top with the corn after taking out the liquid.
  6. Put the mashed potatoes on top, making sure it’s level. Then take the cheese and make a heart shape to show you care in a tasty manner.
  7. Put it in a pre-heated oven at 400º for 20 minutes. Check to see cheese is dark brown. Normally you will need 10 more minutes to ensure this but different ovens take different times, so the 20-minute mark is a good indicator for whether to take it out or leave it in for a bit longer.

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Will Nicholls is a Cree from Mistissini. He started his career off in radio and is still one of the youngest radio DJ’s in Canadian history, having a regular show on CFS Moosonee at the age of 12. Will was one of the founding members of the Nation, and has been its only Editor-in-Chief.