Tag Archives: wild game

4 Awesome Baconless Venison Recipes

Many absurd people treat venison as a meat that requires other kinds of meat to make it more palatable. When did we become such wusses? When I see bacon-wrapped venison tenderloin I want to cry. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into hunting this animal so you can wrap it in some cheap pork you got from the supermarket? What would your deer think about you two-timing it with some two-bit pig? Here are five simple recipes to impress your holiday guests that don’t attempt to hide the richness of venison behind additional fat.

Medieval Spit Roasted Venison

During the Middle Ages, open fire cooking was the standard method of both medieval chefs and the Roman Catholic Church. Follow chef and culinary historian Heston Blumenthal as he spit roasts an entire deer in the medieval style.

Corned Venison

Recipe adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Corned venison.

Image: http://honest-food.net/

Corning is an unbelievably simple process and a great weapon in your cooking arsenal. Corning venison is really no different from corning beef. One advantage to venison over beef is that it contains equal amounts of protein but much less fat. It’s basically diet corned beef. The question when it comes to corning is whether or not you want to use nitrates. I say go ahead and use them because your venison will taste slightly better AND, assuming you take the proper precautions, you won’t get botulism.

Ingredients:

  • 3-5 pound venison roast
  • Enough water to submerge your roast in a stock pot (1/2 gallon or 2 quarts)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 ounce saltpeter/sodium nitrate
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10–15 whole juniper berries
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 cloves

Directions:

  1. Place everything in your stockpot except the roast and bring to a boil. Remove the heat and cover until your brine has reached room temperature. This will take a couple hours. Pour brine in a large container or 2 gallon Ziploc bag and add the roast.
  2. The key to getting this step right is to make sure your roast is completely submerged during the brining process. Once submerged, place your roast in the refrigerator for 5–7 days. Feel free to flip the roast or stir the brine every couple of days.
  3. A week has passed, and you now have corned venison. Well, almost. Next you want to drain the brine and place your roast in a pot with fresh water. Don’t use a ton of water otherwise you’ll dilute the flavor. Cover the pot and simmer for 3–5 hours.
  4. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of corned venison. Enjoy hot or cold.

Venison Tacos al Pastor 

Recipe adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Venison tacos al pastor.

Image: www.dishmaps.com

Al Pastor has many different regional variations, but essentially it’s heavily seasoned roast pork (in this case venison) with pineapple and chilies. The only way you can mess this up is by eating it with flour instead of corn tortillas. Honestly, wet cardboard has more flavor than a flour tortilla. Don’t even get me started on whole wheat tortillas—the horror!

Ingredients: 

  • 5 guajillo chiles
  • 5 ancho chiles
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 can pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 1/2 pounds of boneless deer roast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add guajillo and ancho chiles. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chiles soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the chiles and discard stem and seeds. Meanwhile, coarsely chop one onion in half; reserve remaining half. Strain pineapples, but keep the juice for the next step.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, puree all of your chiles, chopped onion, pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, and cumin until smooth. Transfer chile mixture to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring your chile mixture to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Let the mixture sit until cool. Now combine your marinade (mixture), venison cubes, and pineapple chunks in a large container or Ziploc bag, and transfer to refrigerator. Let marinate for up to 24 hours. 
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. After straining the marinade, cook your pineapple and venison cubes until golden brown.
  4. Finely dice the other half of your onion and combine with cilantro in a small bowl. Serve on warm tortillas with onion, cilantro, and a spritz of lime.

Nittany Jack’s Preacher Meat and Kale Sandwich

Sliced venison.

Image: manvsmeat.com

If you don’t already know, venison and dijon mustard are a match made in heaven. The tart, stinging bite of a good dijon is the perfect compliment to the earthy and slightly nutty flavor of venison. The key is to not overcook the venison. You don’t exactly want sashimi, but you also don’t not want sashimi—do you know what I mean? This is my go-to venison dish when I don’t have a ton of time and want something delicious and moderately healthy.

Ingredients:

  • Venison backstrap or tenderloin (1/4 of a whole backstrap or 1/2 of one loin) sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
  • Baguette or ciabatta
  • Salt & pepper
  • Kale
  • Horseradish
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Pickled garlic or one clove of fresh garlic
  • Dijon mustard
  • Vegetable oil

Directions: 

  1. Sometimes I like my kale raw, other times I like it sautéed. For sandwich building, however, sautéed kale tends to work better because the moisture helps bind things together. Heat some olive oil on low-medium heat in a small pan. Add your kale and garlic. Once the kales cooks down and starts to wilt, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook for another couple minutes then remove.
  2. Heat your vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Pan sear 2–3 venison slices at a time until rare or medium rare. Remove.
  3. Now lay your sliced bread face down in the same dirty skillet that you cooked the venison (very important). The bread will toast while it absorbs the remaining venison juices.
  4. Now slap everything together with some dijon and a touch of horseradish. Wrap the sandwich in a paper towel as they tend to get messy.

Tasty Wild Game Recipes for Fall

As the fall weather makes its chilly descent and hunting season (finally) starts back up, we find ourselves craving some of our favorite wild game recipes. There’s nothing quite like knowing you were involved in the entire process of catching, dressing, and finally cooking your own meal—the joy behind it is, at times, unexplainable. Plus there are no long lines out in the woods. Here are some recipes that we tend to lean toward once fall rears its head. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite among our list!

Grouse Northwoods

Courtesy of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Cooked grouse.

Image: http://honest-food.net/

Ingredients  

  • 1.5 cups wild rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 grouse skinned breasts
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-2 pounds fresh mushrooms
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fruit syrup
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar

Directions

  • Salt grouse breasts and set aside at room temperature.
  • Simmer 1 cup wild rice in the grouse (or chicken) broth until tender, 20-50 minutes. When rice is done, drain and set aside in covered bowl.
  • Grind remaining wild rice in spice grinder into a powder (larger bits, are fine). Mix with flour and dredge grouse breasts in it.
  • Heat 3 tsp. of butter in large pan and sauté grouse breasts until they are just barely done (about 4 to 5 minutes per side). Set aside.
  • Put remaining butter in pan and turn heat to high. Add mushrooms until sautéed. Sprinkle with salt and add garlic and thyme. Let mushrooms sear for 1-2 minutes until brown.
  • Add cranberries and toss to combine. Cook until they start popping, then add wild rice, vinegar, and fruit syrup. Toss to combine, and serve with the grouse.

Pan Seared Venison with Rosemary and Dried Cherries

Courtesy of Broken Arrow Ranch

Pan seared vension.

Image: http://eat.snooth.com/

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1.5 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (1lb) venison boneless loin
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup fat-free beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. black-currant jelly

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Grind 1 tsp. rosemary with coriander seeds and garlic to make a paste. Stir in 1/2 tsp. olive oil.
  • Pat venison dry and put in bowl, then rub with paste. Season well with pepper. Cover and chill 20 minutes.
  • Add remaining olive oil to hot skillet. Season venison well with salt, then brown both sides (about 6 minutes total).
  • Roast venison until instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 125 degrees (about 7 to 10 minutes). Transfer meat to plate and cover with foil.
  • Add wine and cherries to skillet and deglaze by boiling on moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits.
  • Stir together broth, water, cornstarch, and remaining rosemary in a bowl and add to skillet. Simmer, stirring until thickened for about 5 minutes. Whisk in jelly and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cut venison into 1/4 inch thick slices and serve with sauce.

Venison Tenderloin

Courtesy of Field & Stream, contributed by Terrace Brennan (chef at Picholine Restaurant and Artisanal Bistro and Wine Bar)

Venison tenderloin.

Courtesy of Travis Rathbone [Image: http://www.fieldandstream.com/]

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground star anise
  • 1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 cup and 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 venison tenderloins, 6–7 oz. each
  • 1⁄4 cup (packed) prunes, chopped in 1⁄4 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. Armagnac (optional)
  • 12 tbsp. softened unsalted butter, cut in tablespoon-size pieces
  • 2 cups peeled cheese pumpkin, cut in 1⁄4 inch dice
  • 10 minced sage leaves

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Stir together 1-1⁄2 tsp. salt, 1⁄2 tsp. pepper, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon in bowl. Whisk in 2 tbsp. of oil. Rub mixture on both sides of each venison loin.
  •  Put prunes in another bowl. If using Armagnac, pour over prunes and set aside to soak.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. oil and 2 tbsp. butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Add pumpkin and cook, tossing and stirring every few minutes until lightly caramelized on all sides (about 15 to 18 minutes). Toss in prunes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put 2 tbsp. of oil and butter in 12 inch ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add venison loins when butter starts to sizzle and foam. Sear for 1 minute.
  • Turn loins over and transfer pan to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted to the center of loin reads 120 degrees for rare. Remove pan from oven and let venison rest on clean, dry surface for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining butter and cook until it melts and turns brown (about 1 minute).
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in sage leaves. Set sage leaves aside once crispy.
  • Divide pumpkin and prunes evenly around plates. Top each portion with venison loin, drizzle of brown butter, and crisped sage.

Ducks in the Orchard

Courtesy of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

Cooked duck.

Image: http://honest-food.net/

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs. duck breast
  • 1 tbsp. duck fat or butter
  • 2 firm apples
  • 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar or maple sugar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped mint
  • Hawaiian red salt or coarse sea salt

Directions

  • Salt duck breasts lightly. Let sit at room temperature for 25 minutes.
  • Squeeze lemon juice into bowl of water. Slice apples into quarter slices (about 1/4 inch thick) and put in lemon juice. Coat all sides.
  • Heat large sauté pan over high heat. Add duck fat or butter and coat the pan. Place duck breasts skin side down, turn heat to medium, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove duck breasts and tent loosely with foil.
  • Spoon off all but about 3 tbsp. of fat. Cook apples over medium-high heat. Brown apples lightly on both sides.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar over everything and swirl to combine while apples continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour cider in pan and put heat up high. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and cayenne into pan. Boil down by 2/3.
  • Slice duck breast pieces roughly the same width as apples.
  • Make rosette of alternating duck breast and apple in center of plate. Spoon small amount of reduced cider on each piece of duck and one more spoonful in center of rosette. Sprinkle with fresh mint and Hawaiian red salt.

After the Hunt: Wild Turkey Recipes for Spring

Don’t wait until fall to devour that gobbler! These three wild turkey recipes are perfect for dining al fresco this spring. Looks like it’s time to fire up the grill.

Wild Turkey Mole

Courtesy of Jonathan Miles at Field & Stream

Wild turkey mole [Image Credit: Johnny Miller]

Image Credit: Johnny Miller

Mole originated in southern Mexico, and traditionally includes dozens of ingredients cooked over the course of many days. This recipe, adapted from Chicago chef Rick Bayless, is less demanding but still has so much of that traditional flavor. When grilling the turkey, remember not to overcook! This recipe serves 4. Leftover mole can be frozen.

Ingredients

  • 1 wild turkey breast, whole or split
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 2 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil, divided
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 2 slices white bread, torn into chunks
  • 1 chipotle chile with sauce from a can of chile con adobo
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 quart chicken stock, plus slightly more if needed
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Tear the dried ancho chiles into pieces that will lie flat in the pan. Toast the pieces on both sides until they begin to crackle, but flip or remove them once they start to smoke. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl filled with hot water and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. While the chiles are soaking, heat 1 tablespoon of lard or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deep golden brown (about 8 minutes). Remove pot from heat.
  3. Arrange the tomato halves cut side up on a sheet pan. Place the tomatoes under a broiler set to high. Roast the tomatoes until blackened and bubbling, about 5 minutes, then flip tomatoes and roast the other side for the same effect. Allow the tomatoes to cool, then peel off as much skin as you can. (Some charred bits left behind on the tomatoes are fine and will add character to your mole.)
  4. Scrape the tomatoes and any juices into a blender, then add the cooled onion and garlic to the blender. Drain the ancho chiles, discard the water, and then add chiles to the blender. Add nuts, bread, chipotle, cinnamon and about 2 cups of chicken stock to the blender, and blend until very smooth. (Note: Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all ingredients are blended. Add more stock as needed to yield a smooth, pourable puree.) Press the puree through a sieve into a bowl.
  5. Over a medium-high burner, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon lard or oil in the same pot or Dutch oven (rinsed and wiped clean). When the oil begins to smoke, add the puree and stir constantly for 5 – 7 minutes, or until the mixture has considerably darkened and thickened. Add the remaining chicken stock, wine, vinegar, and bay leaves, and reduce heat to low. Simmer this mixture, partially covered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more stock or water as needed to maintain a saucy consistency. Add salt and pepper along with a tablespoon of sugar, to taste. Keep the sauce covered while you cook the turkey.
  6. Allow the turkey to sit out covered, at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Light a medium fire on one side of a charcoal grill, leaving the other side open. (If you are using a gas grill, set the burners to medium on one side.) Rub the turkey breasts with olive oil, and generously salt and pepper them. Place the turkey on the grill, directly over the heat, and cook each side for about 5 minutes to brown it. Move the breast to the side without coals and cover the grill. The turkey is done cooking when a meat thermometer placed in the its thickest park reads 150°F. (The size of the breast and temperature of the grill will determine cooking time.) Wrap the cooked turkey breast in foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Gently reheat the mole as needed.
  7. To serve, slice the meat across the grain. Ladle the mole onto plates and nestle the turkey into the sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls

Courtesy of Something Sweet Something Salty

Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls [Image: somethingsweetsomethingsalty.wordpress.com]

Image: somethingsweetsomethingsalty.wordpress.com

These mouthwatering wild turkey rolls are so easy to make. They would make a great addition to any BBQ. Even the leftovers are delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb thick-cut peppered bacon
  • 1 can pickled, sliced jalapenos
  • 1 1½ lbs wild turkey breast

Marinade:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ingredients for marinade.
  2. Cut meat into 1½-inch cubes. Add meat to marinade in bowl. Let meat marinade for a minimum of two hours.
  3. Cut each piece of bacon in half. Into the center of a bacon slice, place one slice of jalapeno over one cube of turkey. Tightly roll bacon over turkey and hold in place with a toothpick.
  4. After cleaning the grill, heat to medium heat (around 300°F – 350°F). Place rolls on sides and cook slowly, turning every few minutes. Since bacon grease will be dripping down, keep a spray bottle handy to chase away flare-ups. When the bacon is fully cooked, the meat should also be fully cooked.
  5. Remove cooked turkey rolls from grill and let stand for five minutes before serving.

Grilled Turkey with Greek Lemon Sauce

Courtesy of Martha Daniels at Missouri Department of Conservation

This delicious wild turkey recipe reminds us of the Greek street food, souvlaki. Just make sure to make enough – everyone at the BBQ is going to want thirds.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs wild turkey, skin removed, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Directions

  1. In a medium-size bowl, stir together olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the turkey slices to this marinade. Cover and place in refrigerator to marinade for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. To make the lemon sauce, mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. When finished marinading, place the turkey on wooden skewers to help hold in moisture. Grill over medium heat until done, about 10 minutes or more.
  4. Serve skewered turkey with lemon sauce.
image: www.ancient-origins.net

Should Millennials Hunt? A Response to Michael J. Parker

By Jack Kredell

Michael J. Parker’s Huffington Post article “Millennials Must Hunt” recounts the story of his life-changing first hunt and calls on Generation Y to take up hunting as a way to resist the environmentally damaging industrial food apparatus. According to Parker, the queasy refusal to personally source our food has lead us “to outsource the ‘sausage-making’ to third party leviathans, whose increasing power have left us disconnected from the wild.” Parker’s solution is for the eater to reabsorb the “emotional, environmental, and psychological burdens” through hunting. “The further we put ourselves from the source of that act,” writes Parker, “the worse the impact for everyone and everything in the chain.” The solution is for Millennials to return to a pre-industrial or ‘direct’ mode of food production through hunting, thus ending our dependence on industrial food practices.

As a city-dwelling Millennial who began hunting in college for many of the same reasons as Parker, I completely agree that we need to radically rethink our food practices. I also think that hunting might be part of the solution. However, going on a thousand dollar guided mule deer hunt in the Yellowstone wilderness because it offers “the most honest possible version” is not a viable solution to the food crisis: it’s a form of privilege. Millions of Americans already supplement their diets with fresh wild game every year, and the vast majority don’t require expensive guided hunts in the wilderness to do it. The arrogance of a first-time hunter to say what honest or real hunting should look like.

Parker’s version of nature and hunting is also deeply elitist. This is hunting as safari, a cottage industry where people spend large amounts of money flying to exotic locations for the experience of hunting wild animals in their ‘natural’ habitat. Not only does it privilege one ‘natural’ environment, Yellowstone, over others-it simply isn’t sustainable. Are we all going to fly to Montana and ride horses into the wilderness for our food? Why not don loincloths and spears to make it even more authentic?

The deeper problem with Parker’s model is that it operates under the romantic notion that the social and environmental crisis is rooted in the individual’s existential relationship to the world. Hence this truly warped and counterfactual statement about our reliance on industrial farming: “It is our fear of facing the gruesome consequences of our own choices that leads use to outsource “the sausage-making” to third par party leviathans, whose increasing power have left us disconnected from the wild.” Industrial farming is widespread because of the demand for food that, unlike a Yellowstone mule deer, people can afford. That it does so at the expense of quality and the environment is a direct result of the socio-economic inequalities brought about by capitalism. It has nothing to do with us not choosing to have an existential and authentic relationship with our food. Even paleolithic societies had a division of labor.

The problem is not the distance between people and their food, but between people and other people-the chronic income inequality that sustains and even makes necessary cheap industrial food. The irony is that the kind of hunting Parker encourages is not the least bit sustainable, and nor is it the kind of hunting that millions of Americans already take part in. If anything, Parker’s story reads like an attempt to reinsert masculinity into the food chain as a response to the intergenerational power struggle between hard conservative Baby Boomers and soft liberal Millennials.

When it comes to solving the food crisis, we need to abandon individual concepts like authenticity and start thinking in terms of collectivity. A solution that doesn’t benefit everybody is part of the problem. Parker’s call on Millennials to hunt is little more than an exercise in privilege that snobbishly ignores the millions of American hunters who already practice a more sustainable version than Parker’s. Everybody should have the right to eat good food, not just young entrepreneurs who go on thousand dollar deer hunts when the equivalent can be accomplished few miles from home for the cost of a 20 dollar hunting license.

Related articles

3 Recipes for the Wild Game in Your Freezer

In the Northeast, it’s been nothing but freezing temperatures and snow, ice, and more snow. Naught to do but hole myself up in the kitchen and finally get to all the wild game I’ve got stocked in the freezer. Since there are so many recipes for cooking wild game, here are three favorites that I’ve recently cooked up.

Indian Butter Pheasant

Courtesy of Food for Hunters

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

I love Indian food. So, when I saw this curry recipe, I knew I had to make it. Unlike other curry recipes, this one has ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Garam masala, a mixture of spices that can found in the spice aisle, adds a really nice warming element to the dish. I also liked that the curry is thickened with minced cashews instead of cornstarch. This recipe makes about four servings.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 pound skinless pheasant breasts (and legs, if you want)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

Curry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 shallow, finely chopped
  • ¼ of an onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (leftover from marinade)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup finely ground cashews
  • 4 servings of jasmine or basmati rice

Directions

  1. In a food processor or using a mortar & pestle, blend the ginger and garlic together to make a paste. Scoop out the paste and put into a small bowl. Add yogurt, peanut oil, salt, and garam masala to the ginger and garlic paste. Mix well. Reserve 2 teaspoons of this marinade mixture in a small Tupperware container and put in refrigerator. (You’ll be using this little bit for the curry sauce.) Put pheasant in a large ziplock bag and pour in the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  2. Grill or broil pheasant pieces until browned on the outside. Don’t cook all the way through! The pheasant will finish cooking in the curry sauce. Cut breasts into bite-size pieces and shred meat of the leg bones. Set meat aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallot and onion until translucent. Then stir in butter, lemon juice, the reserved garlic-ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomato puree to skillet and stir for 2 minutes. Next, stir in 1 cup of cream and ¼ of plain yogurt. Add cayenne pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in ground cashews. You may not have to use all of the ¼ cup, so just use a bit at a time, stir and decide if the sauce needs more thickening. If you’re sauce has gotten too thick, add a bit more cream or water.
  6. Add pheasant chunks to the curry sauce and heat thoroughly. I cooked mine in the sauce for about 8 minutes more. Add salt & pepper to taste to the curry sauce. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve curry over rice.

Chipotle Pheasant Quesadillas

Courtesy of The Gift Fox 

Hen pheasant on a fence post [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

I cooked more pheasant than I needed for the curry recipe above, so I had one cooked pheasant breast leftover. Pulling these quesadillas together is so easy, perfect for a weeknight meal. You should be able to find a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Latin/Spanish foods section of the grocery store. This recipe makes 1 large quesadilla or 2 small quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant breast, cooked
  • 2 – 3 chilis from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/3 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 large flour tortillas (or 4 small soft taco shells)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream and salsa, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Shred pheasant and add to heated skillet. Add chilis to skillet.
  3. With a wooden spoon, stir together chilis and pheasant so pheasant is covered in chipotle flavoring. Cook pheasant until warmed through, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to heat through on low heat, so you don’t dry out the meat.
  4. Place tortilla (or soft taco shells) on large baking sheet. Whether you are making just one large quesadilla or two smaller ones, layer the ingredients. On the bottom layer, spread out a ½ cup or so of the shredded cheese. Over that, add the black beans, followed by the chipotle pheasant. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the pheasant, and then top with the other tortilla.
  5. Put quesadillas in oven and bake for 10 minutes or so, just until the cheese melts. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Or just stand over the stove and devour.

 

Country-Fried Wild Venison Steak Sandwich

Courtesy of Harvesting Nature

Two halves of a venison sandwich [Image: harvestingnature.com/2015/02/11/country-fried-wild-venison-steak-sandwich]

Image: harvestingnature.com

Is carmelizing the onions completely necessary? Yes. This is the kind of recipe that the next day, you find yourself making again under the premise that “you just have to use of up the rest of that horseradish sauce.” If you’re concerned about the lack of veggies, top your venison with a healthy bunch of baby kale greens.

Ingredients

Carmelized Onions

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into long slivers
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Horseradish Cream Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Country-Fried Venison Steaks

  • 1 lb venison steaks
  • 2 sandwich buns or 4 pieces of Texas toast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cups flour
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • Oil, for frying
  • 8 slices of white cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. To prepare the carmelized onions, heat a wide thick-bottomed pot or pan to medium heat. Add olive oil, heat for 1 minute, and then add onions. Cook onions for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add salt and cook additional 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Once onions are carmelized, turn off heat and set aside.
  2. While onions are carmelizing, mix sour cream, horseradish, and chives together in a small bowl. Season the horseradish cream sauce with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. To make the steaks, begin heating oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  4. One by one, place steaks in a ziplock bag and with a meat mallet, pound down to approximately ¼” thickness. (After this, you may need to cut the steaks in half for ease of battering and frying.)
  5. Season steaks with salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning.
  6. On a shallow dish, mix beaten egg and milk.
  7. On another shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
  8. Dip each steak into the flour, then submerge into the egg wash, and finally dredge back into the flour.
  9. Place the battered steak into the heated oil. Flip steak once to ensure both sides are properly golden brown. Remove the steak from the oil and place on a towel.
  10. Evenly disperse the cheese amongst the steaks, and top steaks with carmelized onions.
  11. Cut buns in half (if applicable) and cover the inside and outside with butter. Toast each side of the bun/bread. Coat the inside of the buns with horseradish sauce.
  12. Place the venison and carmelized onions within the buns and enjoy!

A Wild Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

Here are a few tips to ensure that your wild turkey roast is the most flavorful bird that’s ever graced a Thanksgiving Day feast. And we’ll let you take all the credit.

Wild Turkeys vs. Domesticated Turkeys

Wild turkeys are not your average grocery store turkey. A wild turkey is agile, built for speed and survival. It flies into the trees to roost at night, and uses its long, muscled legs to outrun danger. All of this physical activity equates to a leaner bird, with more dark meat and stronger connective tissue. A domestic turkey, on the other hand, doesn’t fly and is definitely not a runner. In factory farming practices, a domestic turkey leads a sedentary life, promising a larger, broad-breasted bird with more white meat. However, a heritage breed of turkey, like the Bourbon Red or Narragansett, can look similar to its wild cousins when dressed: narrow-breasted, leggier, with more of that flavorful dark meat.

Taste Comparison

Taste is another difference between wild turkey and their domesticated brethren. A factory-farmed bird is typically raised on corn-based feed, giving consumers the turkey they’ve come to expect: lots of bland white meat. The family farmer may supplement their heritage birds’ feed with forage, which translates into more delicious flavor. A wild turkey relies solely on foraging, and eats acorns, beechnuts, weed seeds, insects, wild berries and fruit found in wooded areas. This diet adds to the distinct, full flavor of wild turkey meat. While we know that wild turkey is delicious, there are those who believe it to be tough and gamey. Correctly preparing your bird will win over any nay-sayer seated at your table.

Brining is Crucial

Someone holds a freshly plucked wild turkey

A plucked wild turkey ready for brining [Image: honest-food.net]

Brining your bird makes all the difference. By not brining, you risk having your bird dry out too much during the roasting process. If you are very concerned about the bird tasting too gamey, after you brine try soaking it in buttermilk overnight.

The Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Turkey Brine

Courtesy of Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 3 cups apple juice or cider
  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 5 whole bay leaves
  • Peel of 3 large oranges

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover with lid.
  1. Allow to cool completely. Then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place the uncooked turkey in brine solution, and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
  1. When ready to roast, remove turkey from brine. Discard the brine. Submerge turkey in pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove any excess salt from the outside.
  1. Remove the turkey from the clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your roasting method.

Ready to Roast

A roasted wild turkey on a platter with herbs

Make a wild turkey the center of your Thanksgiving table this year. [Image Credit: Travis Rathbone]

Since wild turkeys have less fat, keeping them moist while roasting is crucial. There are many ways to go about this. Try sliding a few pats of butter under the skin. Or, if you find there’s not enough basting liquid in the pan, have some chicken or turkey stock on hand. If you have skinned your turkey, keeping the turkey moist is a bit more difficult. Try soaking cheesecloth in cooled bacon fat; place this fatted cheesecloth over your turkey while it roasts to retain moisture.

The Wild Chef’s Thanksgiving Wild Turkey Roast

Courtesy of Jonathan Miles at Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 wild turkey (11 to 13 pounds)
  • ¾ pound fatback, salted pork, or bacon (½ pound minced; ¼ pound sliced)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 ribs celery, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (8 oz) toasted diced bread
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 6 sprigs sage, minced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, minced
  • 8 sprigs Italian parsley, minced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Render half of the minced fatback slowly in a heavy-bottom sauté pan. Reserve and keep warm.
  2. Dry the turkey well with paper towels. Using a brush, coat the exterior with some of the warm minced fatback. Season well with salt and pepper inside and out.
  3. Heat up remaining minced fatback over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery and cook another 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and add toasted bread. Moisten with stock and add minced herbs. Taste the bread cubes; add more broth and herbs if needed (they should be moist and tasty). Gently fill cavity of the turkey with mixture. Cover the breast with remaining slices of fatback.
  4. Place the turkey, breast side up, in a heavy roasting pan. Place in oven. Roast for 1 hour. Remove the fatback, raise the oven temperature to 375°F, and continue roasting for 1 hour to brown the breast. Remove the turkey as soon as it registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone.
  5. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 – 30 minutes before carving it across the grain with a very sharp knife.

Don’t chuck that carcass!

It may look haggard, but don’t throw away that turkey carcass just yet! Use it to make some delicious wild turkey broth to use in future recipes.

Wild Turkey Broth

Courtesy of Hank Shaw at Hunter*Angler*Gardener*Cook

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey carcass, hacked into large pieces
  • 7 – 8 quarts water
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 leeks, washed well and chopped (including green tops)
  • 2 – 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 – 3 bay leaves
  • 1 – 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 Tablespoon dried thyme)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Break up turkey carcass into large pieces. Place these pieces in a large stockpot. Add water.
  2. Let turkey simmer very gently for 2 – 8 hours. The surface of the broth should be barely bubbling. After 2 hours, add veggies and herbs, and simmer gently for 90 minutes.
  3. Use tongs to remove large pieces from broth. Discard those pieces. Set a paper towel in a strainer, and place strainer over another large pot. Pour broth through paper towel to filter out debris. (You may need to change the paper towel midway through this process.)
  4. Add salt, if desired, or leave as is. If you plan on freezing the broth, leave about an inch of headspace in the jar, otherwise the expanding broth-ice will crack the glass.

We’d love to hear how your wild turkey roast came out this year. Leave us a comment!