North·The Arctic Kitchen

A massive piece of dry meat: Because she can

Loretta Margaret Wiley challenged herself to make a giant piece of dry meat. The results? 'Amazing.'

'It's taller than me,' Loretta Margaret Wiley of her large strips of dry moose meat

Loretta Margaret Wiley shows her massive piece of moose dry meat. She says the bottom wasn't quite done at this point. (Sommer Wiley)

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Patience and skill — that's what Loretta Margaret Wiley says it takes to make a big, honkin' piece of moose dry meat.

"I learned it through my grannies and grandmother when I was growing up," she said.

Wiley lives in Norman Wells, N.W.T., and has spent 30 years mastering the art of making dry meat.  She says she used the Deline method for the giant cuts she shared on CBC North's The Arctic Kitchen recipe page on Facebook.

Moose meat hanging to dry in a teepee in Norman Wells. This meat still has a ways to go before it's dried and ready. (Loretta Margaret Wiley)

She says the Deline method is when the meat is cut and hung over a fire or stove to dry the outer layer of the meat. Once that happens, the meat it cut again to expose the wet inner layer so it can be exposed to the heat and dried. It's a process that can take a couple of days to complete.

"The moose meat is such a big volume of meat, so whenever I tried to make the big, large piece of dry meat it never works out for me because it ends up ripping," said Wiley

"So I use the Deline method and with patience it just turned out so amazing," she said.

Loretta Margaret Wiley says this piece of dry meat was taller than her and weighed about 6.3 kilograms. (Sommer Wiley)

It also turned out to be gigantic — about 6.3 kilograms.

"It's the backstrap of the moose and it's huge ... When you have full moose backstrap, it's taller than me," she said. 

"It was so heavy to even hold up."

And when she posted photos on The Arctic Kitchen of the massive piece of meat, people were floored.

"Now that's a piece of dry meat!!! Wow!!," wrote one commenter.

"Thinking about the knife work has got my mind blown," said another.

Loretta Margaret Wiley hangs her moose meat in her teepee over a diamond willow fire. ( Loretta Margaret Wiley)

Wiley dries the meat over a fire in her teepee in Norman Wells. She says she burns diamond willow, which gives the meat a delicious flavour, and the smoke isn't overwhelming.

"As you grow up you are watching your elders and you just carry on those tools … you hold onto those skills and then you pass it on."

And that's exactly what she is doing. Wiley says she plans on passing those skills onto her children and grandchildren.

"I try to use it the best way I can."

And clearly, by the looks of that impressive piece of dry meat, she knows exactly what she's doing.


Jay Legere is a social media presenter in Yellowknife, N.W.T.