Posts Tagged With: wild game

Grilled Venison Salad

The dirt two track waDad Looking For Deers dusty and headed southeast toward a rock out-cropping known as the Rooster Comb. Under the shade of a few junipers and desert sage was the flicker of ears. Dad and I froze, we had been gabbing it up for most of the walk and now were busted. This was an unexpected place to find a group of four feeding does in the middle of the day, but hunting is all about broken expectations.

The does pulled the classic mule deer move – if I don’t move they won’t see me. Well, it wasn’t working out for them. We both nocked arrows and began to position ourselves for shots. Keeping one eye on the deer and the other on the dusty road, I placed each step carefully as to limit sound and to keep the deer as calm as possible. Dad found a shot before I did, I watched him pull back on a large doe. With a quick aim he let fly.

An audible crack came after the shot. I wasn’t sure if it was deer bone or stick. I was focused on my animals. A yearling and a doe had started to circle back on our position. I shadowed them through the head tall sage. The deer finally took note of me and stopped – they were at 12 yards.

I pulled up my longbow looking for a shot. But all they deer gave me were buts and heads. They were pulling the “looking over the back” move that so many archers hate. I momentarily considered a Texas Heart Shot on the big doe, wondering just how far my arrow would travel. Hunting ethics took over, a blessing from my father and other hunting role models in my life. I didn’t shoot, but my hands were shaking like a 13 year old boy at a Jr. High dance, just hoping and waiting for things to work out in my favor.

I let my bow down and watched as the deer wandered out to 35 yards before turning broadside. At that range, I just stood and admired the pair. My effective range is 25 yards. Then the deer simply vanished into the cover.

My dad had cleanly killed a small juniper with his arrow. I found him, Leatherman in hand, digging out his broad head from the tree, his wooden arrow shaft in several sections on the ground. The cracking noise was a broken arrow shaft, apparently. We laughed, sat down in the shade and began to glass the hill over for more deer.

A few draws over my older brother had arrowed a little forked horn buck and was making his way back to camp. His 6 year old daughter had spotted the deer off the trail and selected the one for my brother to shoot. “That one Daddy!” she whispered. We had the deer tracked, gutted and hung in an hour.

That archery season I never flung an arrow. But I still feel successful.

Archery hunting feeds the soul, not necessarily the stomach. Each year archery season tunes me back into the inner workings of terrestrial nature. I get the hunters eye that I lost, often because of a fishing line, in full force. While archery season is almost never successful (I can only count 3 wild pigs and a few rabbits over the course of 20 years) often my best campfire stories come from ones that got away while I had my bow in hand.

I have shot only three arrows at deer in my adult life. All have been clean misses, and in my world that is as good as a clean hit. My shots provided a little education for a small buck and a few does.

When riffle season finally arrives I feel like a superhero. I have an unfathomable amount of power and effective range at my control. Finally, deer are within my reach. Sure, my selections and opportunities are much more limited (bucks only, normally). But I can shoot! Out to several hundred yards! The feeling of supremacy is overwhelming. But the thrill of stalking game is lessend – the difference between getting within 20 yards and 200 yards is huge.

In some ways archery season more natural and spiritual hunting, while riffle season is more about meat collection.

Field Care for Archery Season

More important than shooting during archery season is what you do after the shot. September is still a warm month for the Northwest, averaging about 76 degrees for a daytime high. The low is an average of 49 degrees. Above about 55 degrees meat is no longer being aged, it is rotting. (I have hunted opening day for mule deer with a daytime high of 101 degrees)

Several precautions should be taken to help stop rot. The first one is ethics – don’t shoot unless you are certain of a clean kill. Now I know that shit happens and bad shots happen. Choose carefully and find the deer quickly after the shot, if possible. The longer an animal has its guts on the inside of it the more likely it is to turn bad. Remember that temperature is the issue – waiting the animal out is perfectly fine if it is cold out! But in the summer archery season it is just a bad idea to try and find the animal “in the morning”.

Even after a quick recovery getting the meat cool is vital. Skin and gut the animal immediately. Get the meat onto ice if possible. If not on ice then get it to the coldest place you can manage. Down by a creek, in the shade or even in a cave if possible. Don’t stay an extra day in camp and skip out on the ice, get the meat cold then kick back and drink a brew around the fire.

Citric acid, the stuff you use for canning tomatoes, will help prevent rot. Basically the citric acid is changing the pH of the outside of the meat, making it less hospitable for bacterial growth. I have only used this one time on a backcountry hunt, it seemed to help but I made sure to cut away all acid treated meat before butchering. I much prefer to get meat cold.

The Food –

Pan Roasted Venison Steak with Watermelon, Corn and Zucchini Salad and Brown Butter Sage Vinaigrette

So the crazy part about September archery season is that is it still summer! Hunting is done while the garden is still growing like crazy. Tomatoes, watermelon and corn are all in large supply. Like they say “if it grows together is goes together.” That same principle applies for hunting and harvesting of produce.

This recipe uses fall flavors on summer ingredients, to a surprising affect in my opinion. Butter and sage, staples for butternut squash and halibut are added to watermelon and zucchini. It is a combination of sweet and savory that works great. Feel free to kick it up a notch with a little red chili flake if desired. Then you have the trifecta of flavor – sweet, heat and savory.

Brown Butter and Sage Vinaigrettevenison salad

¼ Cup Unsalted Butter

20 sage leaves

1 ea Garlic Clove, crushed

¼ cup balsamic Vinegar

½ cup Canola Oil

¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded

Salt and Pepper

Add the cold butter to a medium sized saute pan. Heat pan on medium until all the butter is melted. Add the sage and turn heat to medium high, the pan will spit a little oil out on you. Be careful.

Wait and watch the butter, it should be turning brown in about a minute. Add the crushed garlic when the butter is brown in color and has a nutty smell. Next add the balsamic and the canola oil to the hot pan. This will cause some aggressive boiling, do NOT inhale the fumes. It will be a vinegar bomb like none other. Next add the parmesan cheese to the pan, then add all to a blender and puree until smooth. About 1 minute. Season and reserve but do not chill

The Meat and Veg

2 each large Venison Steaks, about 8oz each

Salt and Pepper

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 small zucchini, cut into large chunks

1.5 cups cubed watermelon

1 ear of corn, removed from cob

2 cups Lambs Quarter, or Spinach

Rinse and wipe out the same medium pan you made the brown butter dressing in. Season the venison steaks with salt and pepper. Add the butter to the pan and return to medium heat. When butter is melted but not yet brown add the steaks to the pan. Cook until dark brown on one side, then flip over and cook until blood begins to rise to the surface of the steak. This should be about medium rare.

Remove the meat from the pan and add the zucchini chunks. Cook until golden on one side, flip and add the watermelon and corn.

While those are cooking add the lambs quarter or spinach to a medium salad bowl. Add 3 tablespoons brown butter sage dressing. Cook the watermelon and corn for one more minute and then add to the mixing bowl. Toss all the vegetables.

Next slice the steak. Pile the salad and gently dump onto a plate. Place the sliced steak on the top. Eat and enjoy!

Categories: Big Game, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey Wings

If you are like me a turkey is a big prize. I have shot roughly triple the number of mule deer than turkeys in my life. So I like to make the most of the meat when I get it.

Frequently recipes for wild birds are all about the breast meat. Sure, that’s it the bulk of the score but other bits can inspire interesting dishes – think wings, drumsticks, liver and heart.

Unfortunately, with most wild birds, the wings often get trimmed off at the shoulder and tossed. This is a shame, especially if you can collect a few. They make an impressive party snack, like pterodactyl wings with BBQ sauce. Trukey Drumsticks

Sticky Turkey Wings

Sticky Sauce

½ cup green onions

¼ cup honey

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons black bean paste

2 Tablespoons siracha

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

Combine all of the above ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve.

Wings

2 each turkey wings, cut at the elbow joint

Sticky Sauce

2 cups water, or more

Toss the wings in the sauce and add them to a crock pot. Pour on remaining sauce. Add enough water to almost cover the wings. In my crock pot this is about 2 cups, yours might be different. Turn crock onto “low” and cover. Let cook for about 6-8 hours. I did mine overnight getting up to check on them at about 3am.

Depending on your crock pot your water level will need adjusted. Also, the black bean sauce will make the reduced sauce look burned. It is not, usually.

When the wings are fall off the bone tender turn off the heat, let cool for an hour and then refrigerate overnight if you can. This extra time allows the flavors to more fully develop in the wings.

Re-heat tightly covered in the microwave make sure to use the sauce that is left in the pan. Garnish with green onions and enjoy!

Categories: Birds, Not Waterfowl, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Jesse Morris – A Killer Chef

Every now and then you meet a kindred spirit in the world. Jesse Morris is a hunter, chef, duck hunting guide and owner of Killerchefs.com. I was fortunate enough to meet Jesse a few months back in Texas at Smoke, an incredible BBQ restaurant. We talked guns, hogs, ducks, dogs, children and food – the good stuff in life. I recently caught up with Jesse for an interview – check out my conversation with this Killer Chef below. (Come back soon for a guest recipe from Jesse!)

KIllerchefs.com

KIllerchefs.com

Q: Season is over – how’d it go?

A: We had a great season! I started off in northern Alberta hunting Canada geese and ducks in early September and ended our season in Texas jumped on the highway and headed north to Oklahoma to finish my waterfowl season chasing geese with the rest of the duks-r-us crew.

Q: So, what is your favorite duck to hunt? What’s your favorite duck to eat?

A: I’m not a picky guy. I love getting mallards in the spread but I think different species all have their challenges and I enjoy trying to figure out what’s going to make them commit.

A good speck belly is hard to beat when you’re going to eat them (not your question but I have some waiting for me to clean and I’m excited about that)

Q: What is your favorite section of the duck – innards, the quack, breast meat?

A: It is good to use as much of the animal as you can but the breast meat is you prime cut but  I am working more and more with leg and thigh meat. That’s good for me cause that’s about all I can get when clients just want the breast.

Q: Tell me about the hound…

A: Cash is my four year old lab he is tall, lean and muscular. He has better eyes than me, and has a heart full of fire.

Q: So you guide? Where and how to we get set up on a hunt?

A: Get on www.Duks-r-us.com and book early.

Q: Tell me about Killerchefs.com?

A: I grew up on a old dirt road in Oklahoma I had as much space to run, hunt and fish as I wanted. I learned the value of an animal’s life for food and my mother was always a good cook. Killerchefs came about when I had children and decided that nights and weekends weren’t conducive to a great home life. So I took the hit and changed professions but still wanted to continue cooking. What better way to do that but to mix the outdoors and my love for food, travel and photography.

Q: I remember you saying that you have a heck of a good time in Canada on the snow geese, something about cheese wiz and Quakers…what was that story again?

A: The folks in Canada love some cheese wiz. They had pallets of it at the stores. The guides would eat it for every meal. Guess there wasn’t much of a story there.

Q: Quick cooking tip for the hunter?

A: Take care of the game when you shoot it. Make sure and get the core temperature down as quick as possible. To ensure you have the best game flavor you can get put the work in the beginning so it’s easy by the time you get to the iron.

Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Pepper Crusted Venison

The French classic of pepper corn steak, updated for a Northwestern flare. The sweetness of the apples and the apple juice are what makes this dish. It calms the pepper down in your mouth but still lets the flavors have a nice bite. Using a local apple, something firm like a Fuji, works great.

Pepper Crusted Venison Steaks IMG_0043

6-8 4oz Venison Steaks, Sirloin Makes a great choice

3 Tablespoons Cracked Black Pepper

Salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2ea Fuji or Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ¼ inch wedges

1 tablespoon Flour

¼ cup apple juice (brandy or bourbon works great here too)

½ cup milk

1 sprig rosemary (optional)

 

Turn oven on to “warm” and place a plate inside. Heat large heavy bottomed pan on medium. Pour the cracked peppercorns onto a small plate. Firmly press each of the steaks into the cracked peppercorns, just one side. Lightly season both sides with salt.

Pour oil into pan, it should be on the verge of smoking hot. Place the steaks in the pan peppercorn side down and let brown for 2-3 minutes. The steaks should be a nice golden browned before flipping.

Flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove promptly from heat if blood starts to show on the top of the pepper crusted section, this will mean that they are about medium. Place steaks on the plate in the oven to keep warm.

In the bottom of the pan should be a bunch of brown goodies stuck to the bottom, this is a good thing. Add the apples and flour. The juice from the apples should allow the flour to be absorbed and not clump. When the apples start to brown add the apple juice, about 1 additional minute. Use a wooden spoon and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. The flour should thicken the apple juice mix quickly. Add the milk, let simmer until it reduces and thickens to a thin “gravy” consistency.

Remove steaks from the oven. Pour off any blood from the platter and serve with roasted potatoes and sautéed kale. Garnish with rosemary if desired.

Categories: Big Game, Blog, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Elk Season Recipe

If I could shoot one animal per year for my freezer it would be a nice, youngish, cow elk. They are the perfect table fare. Tender, flavorful and ample in proportion elk are like giant whitetail deer.

EAT ME!

EAT ME!

With a large animal there is always scrap and trim that needs used. Cooking is not at its best with easy to use items – think backstrap – but when underutilized things are made to shine. One easy to make shine item is the shank meat. Shank meat is essentially the calf and forearm of an animal. In the fancy restaurants of my past I would serve lamb shanks in the winter like hotcakes. I would charge upwards of $35 a plate for them as well. When I started thinking back to all the shank meat on the deer and elk I had killed I realized most of it went through the grinder and into burger. A true shame.Shank meat is ungodly tough, right? What makes shank meat different is the very thing that makes it tough, connective tissue. That same tissue, if cooked long enough, melts into the most buttery and luscious sauce. What happens in the naturally occurring gelatin breaks down and incorporates into the cooking liquid. But this takes time, shanks are slow food. Mmm tasty slow food.

Anyway, enough science, how about a nice recipe?

Elk Shank with Red Wine and Rosemary

Pre heat oven to 300 degrees, or turn on crockpot to “low” setting.

1 elk hind shank, deboned, bone reserved (this should feed about four people, it will be very rich)

½ cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper

1 ea white onion, chopped into large chunks

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

10 cloves garlic

10 sprigs rosemary, 5 for the braising, 5 for the finishing sauce

2 cups red wine

2 quarts water

2 tablespoons thyme

Roll the deboned shank meat in the flour. Heat a large cast iron Dutch oven on medium and add the butter. Brown the shank meat on all sides in Dutch oven in butter. When brown add the onions and any remaining flour to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir onions around to avoid flour clumps from forming.

Next add the carrots, garlic and half the rosemary. Let cook for one minute and then add the red wine to “deglaze” the pan (remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, those are good things). When at a boil add the remaining water, just enough to cover the meat. This can change depending on the size of the pan, but two quarts should be more than enough.

Let cook in oven, covered very tightly, for 4-6 hours or until fork tender. Fork tender is defined as tender enough to stick a fork into the center and twist, feeling little resistance. When fork tender remove the Dutch from the oven and place on kitchen counter.

The cook is now faced with a dilemma – serve hot or let cool and serve the next day. Braised meat, as a rule, is always better the next day after having time to settle and reabsorb flavors. But, in the real world, this does not always happen.

Either way when you go to eat the shank remove the meat and reduce the sauce in in the pan. When it starts to thicken add the remaining rosemary and the thyme. This will brighten up the whole dish. Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta for a great, rib sticking meal.

 

Categories: Big Game, Blog, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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