Posts Tagged ‘cooking’
Monday, July 16th, 2012
Depending upon what state you’re focused upon, there are approximately 60 days left on the calendar until we’re able to chase birds behind our flushers, pointers and retrievers. That’s right; this is your official two month warning. In fact, I’m excited to report my calendar is starting to fill in with September ruffed grouse hunts, as well as an early prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse hunt.
Consequently, I’ve begun to inventory what’s left in my chest freezer. A huge pet-peeve of mine is leaving meat in the freezer into a new hunting season, so I was happy to see a pair of pheasants and one meal of quail is all that stands between me and an empty freezer.
Last week, I pulled out two Kansas prairie chickens from the freezer then headed into the garden looking for fresh ingredients. The result of my search was a very simply prepared prairie chicken stir fry. Here you go:
- 2 whole prairie chickens (deboned and cubed)
- 1 small zucchini sliced into small triangles
- 2 cups of green beans
- 2 cups of snow peas
- 1 stalk of celery diced
- 1 head of broccoli diced
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
- 1 small green bell pepper sliced into small strips
- 1 bottle of House of Tsang Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry sauce
1) Sauté the cubed prairie chicken in olive oil until browned.
2) Add the cherry tomatoes and simmer for approximately three minutes on medium heat
3) Add all the green vegetables and simmer covered. (I like to make sure the vegetables are still crispy when served, so this only takes a couple of minutes.)
4) Add bottle of House of Tsang Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry Sauce and simmer for two minutes till warm.
5) Serve over rice.
After slicing and dicing the vegetables, this recipe literally took minutes to prepare. And as you’ve probably already figured, this preparation works just as well with quail, pheasant or any other fowl in your freezer. Enjoy!
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
One of my absolute favorite new books of the last year is Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook. Shaw skillfully blends his personal narrative with unique recipes in this creative exploration of foraging, hunting, and fishing for nature’s “forgotten feast.” If you made it to National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic last February, then you hopefully had the chance to catch Hank’s fantastic presentations on the Outdoor Channel Cooking Stage.
It was with Hank’s ethos in mind that I prepared this evening’s meal. My cluttered countertop included one rooster from a memorable December pheasant hunt in Kansas, a few dozen wild morel mushrooms scored with the assistance of my FAN Outdoors radio partner “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand, and a few stalks of wild asparagus snipped at my secret railroad tracks spot not far from the Pheasants Forever national offices.
Here’s the skinny on my Hunt, Gather, Cook Pheasant Pasta
1 Cubed whole pheasant
4 Cups of fresh morel mushrooms
1 Cup of fresh wild asparagus
2 Cups of angel hair pasta
1/2 Cup of heavy cream
½ Stick of butter
1 tsp flour
Salt to taste
1) Sauté the cubed pheasant in olive oil until brown, lightly salt
2) Sauté the morel mushrooms in ¼ stick of butter till reduced (approximately 5 minutes on medium heat)
3) Boil the angel hair pasta till tender
4) Melt ¼ stick of butter over low heat, add flour and whisk until blended, add cream, simmer on low heat.
5) Boil asparagus al dente, so they are crisp
6) Combine pheasant, mushrooms and pasta
7) Pour cream sauce over the top
8) Add asparagus
Thanks to my sous chef and wife, Meredith, for helping me out in the night’s finished dish.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Editor’s Note: Hunt, Gather, Cook author Hank Shaw has penned a portion of Pheasants Forever’s “Wild Game Cooking” special section appearing in the upcoming winter issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you’d like to become a member of Pheasants Forever and receive this issue along with a full year’s subscription, join today by following this link.
According to Wikipedia, the market for organic foods grew from nothing to a $55 billion industry by 2009. I believe a similar trend is developing around our roots as hunters and gatherers. From Steven Rinella’s Travel Channel show, The Wild Within, to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg declaring that he’d like to become a hunter, folks that hunt, fish and gather their food are becoming today’s pop culture trendsetters. Suddenly, mainstream America has an interest in the origination and acquisition of the food on their tables.
One of the leaders bridging our hunting and gathering roots to mainstream America is Hank Shaw. Shaw is most known for his popular blog: Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. I caught up via email with Hank to ask him about a couple of his new endeavors; including, a fantastic new book titled Hunt, Gather, Cook.
St.Pierre: The Minnesota DNR’s Chris Niskanen, a mutual friend of ours, was the guy that introduced you to hunting when you were 32 years old. Tell me about that experience; why were you interested, what surprised you, and what hooked you on hunting to the extent that you make your living today as a result of your ability to hunt, write about hunting and cook the fruits of your labor?
Shaw: I first became interested in hunting because, oddly, of my fishing abilities. When I’d lived on Long Island, I developed a deep knowledge of the waters there – to the point where I could almost always catch something. I knew the tides, moon phases, and seasons. I could read current breaks, knew where structure was to hold fish. And, most importantly, I had the skills to make pretty much any seafood taste great.
When I moved to Minnesota, I wanted that same ability on land. Chris took me out to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. It was a hard hunt, as it was the last week of the season and we were hunting public land, but Chris could still easily come away with his limit of pheasants each day. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but I was hooked.
What surprised me most was how engrossing hunting became. You can drink beer and shoot the breeze when you are fishing, but when you are hunting you must live completely within the moment. You become a set of ears and eyes, you start to notice smells you’d never notice before; I’ve smelled deer before I could see them. I never felt so truly alive as when I am quiet in the woods, hunting for deer, rabbits or squirrels. Even when I don’t come home with anything, I feel rejuvenated after the experience.
St.Pierre: Both your book and your blog are subtitled “finding the forgotten feast.” To me, that subtitle echoes of Aldo Leopold’s often referenced passage from A Sand County Almanac in which he talks about food not coming from the grocery store, but from the land. Why is it important to you for America to rediscover this “forgotten feast?”
Shaw: Because we are one of the only cultures that does not, for the most part, eat food from our land. Very few of the foods Americans now eat are native to the 50 states. This was not always the case. Muskrat (called “marsh hare”) was sold in the finest restaurants in America a century ago. Our basic knowledge of plants and animals was far greater than it is today. Wild game and wild foods were once a normal part of the fabric of our lives. Now they are an exotic novelty.
What I hope to achieve is to rekindle people’s interest in nature’s bounty – and I am not talking about living off the grid or anything. I am talking about it becoming normal for people to own their own slice of nature within an otherwise “normal” life: Maybe they’re anglers, maybe they gather wild rice or berries or mushrooms. Maybe they hunt a deer for the freezer every year. Minnesota is one of my favorite states because so many Minnesotans already do this, so what I do is not such an alien concept for them.
St.Pierre: I consider myself to be a hunter, angler and gatherer. I pick morel mushrooms and wild asparagus, hunt voraciously, and fish adequately, but some of the things you pursue had me thinking some of this stuff is more work than it’s worth. The effort to make a cup of acorn coffee, for instance, seemed a painstakingly long process for the reward. Where do you find the balance between adventure and practicality?
Shaw: Everyone has to find his own balance. I don’t really do acorn coffee so much because its flavor is only so-so, but acorn flour has such a distinctive nutty flavor I find it more than worth the effort. It is the perfect flour to use when cooking game.
But you bring up a good point, because if your calculus is always cost-benefit, or whether wild foods are cheaper than Wal-Mart, wild food will always lose. But there is a spiritual, emotional component to this that cannot be quantified. Anyone who has ever gone fishing on a camping trip, and who’s fried that fish up over an open fire that night, knows just how good that fish will taste – it’s more than the sum of its parts. There is something deeply satisfying about working for your dinner.
St.Pierre: Of all the crazy things you’ve chased, gathered, and cooked, what is: a) your favorite and b) the thing most of us would think odd that you absolutely loved?
Shaw: I dunno. There are so many awesome experiences. But I have to say ruffed grouse hunting in the far north of Minnesota is right up there. Hunting grouse in the forest touches me in a way that no other hunting does. I grew up around very old forests in New Jersey, and whenever I return to that kind of woods – no matter what state I happen to find myself in – I get the feeling I am home. I love the desert, I love the mountains, but I am most at home in the forest. And there may be no other game bird as delicious as a ruffed grouse. Maybe a woodcock, but that’s arguable.
Crazy things? Hard to say. Maybe periwinkle snails off the rocks of New England. Blue camas bulbs in the High Sierra, which you need to be sure aren’t the disturbingly named death camas bulbs. I also happen to love the freshwater drum of the St. Croix River, which most people scorn. I love that they are fatty and rich, just like their cousins the redfish of Louisiana.
St.Pierre: Since I’m a pheasant guy, I’ve gotta know your favorite pheasant meal, the sides you like to serve with your pheasant and the drink to wash it down?
Shaw: OK, this is tough one, because I eat pheasant all the time. But I do a dish where I gently poach the pheasant breast in pheasant broth, then crispy-fry the skin separately. I serve the poached breast with the crispy skin on top, with a sweet-savory corn sauce underneath. It is just awesome. Sure, it’s a little cheffy, but I like my pheasant breast gently cooked and I love, love, crispy skin.
A drink to wash it down? I think a heavy white, like a Cote du Rhone blend, a Viognier, or an unoaked Chardonnay are good. But so are dry roses from southern France or Spain, and even light reds such as a Gamay, Grenache or Pinot Noir work well, too. It depends on how you’re serving the pheasant. Same goes with beer: Everything from a Grain Belt to an expensive Chimay Belgian beer works with pheasant, depending on the preparation.
St.Pierre: My wife and I are looking forward to dining at Corner Table in Minneapolis next Monday night when you will be the guest chef for the evening. What can folks attending your special appearances expect to taste and learn from these events?
Shaw: Our wild food book dinners are expressions of time and place. I work closely with the chefs, in this case Chef Scott Pampuch, to create a multi-course menu that can only really be done in one place and in one time – in our case, we’ll have lots of autumn Minnesota products, like walleye, pike, highbush cranberries, real Ojibwe wild rice, pheasant, venison – that sort of thing. Minnesota has such a wealth of wild foods that Scott and I are really looking forward to putting together a symphony of the North Star State’s finest foods. Even experienced eaters will taste something new here. I guarantee it.
Hank Shaw will be appearing at Corner Table in Minneapolis on Monday, October 10th at 6 pm. Reservations for this special meal can be made by calling 612.823.0011. Price is $65 per person.
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
On the outside chance you’ve got one batch of morel mushrooms left from the spring woods and one pheasant still frozen in your freezer, then I’ve got the recipe for dinner tonight.
1 cup fresh morel mushrooms
1 cup fresh spinach
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
2 to 3 tablespoons of garlic & onion spice mix
Salt & pepper to taste
Step 1: season pheasant meat (deboned) with garlic & onion spice mix and salt & pepper
Step 2: cook noodles according to packaging
Step 3: lightly sauté morels in butter
Step 4: sauté pheasant meat in olive oil
Step 5: When noodles and morels are done, add spinach to meat pan. Cover & steam the spinach in the meat pan.
Step 6: Toss noodles, pheasant, spinach and morels into one pan or bowl.
Step 7: Serve & enjoy
Additions you may consider: fresh parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top
(Truth in cooking blogs act, article 27811-12: my wife, Meredith, deserves credit for this particular recipe)
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
I fancy myself a pretty good wild game cook. I’m not at “chef” status, but I can turn traditionally gamey meats into dishes worthy of a second helping by most folk’s standards. However, tonight’s kitchen effort knocked my ego down a few pegs.
Last Sunday, I purchased a toy that I’d been eyeing for over a year – an enamel cast iron Dutch oven. I didn’t splurge on the uber expensive Le Creuset brand, but dropped $50 on a Food Network knockoff at Kohl’s.
I took out the lone pheasant in my freezer still wearing its skin. Like most pheasant hunters, I have a hard time finding the time to pluck my birds even though I know they’ll taste better with the skin sticking to the meat. However, one duck hunt last November in North Dakota also produced a rooster that cleaned up nicely with the lodge’s Duck Naked contraption that removed the bird’s feathers while leaving the skin intact.
I thawed said rooster and brined it for two days as I studied pheasant roasting recipes. I finally settled on a treatment featuring a cranberry glaze.
Uncharacteristically, I followed the recipe almost exactly (I’m notorious for using recipes as nothing more than an outline). Unfortunately, this evening’s “roast pheasant with cranberry glaze” went awry despite my best efforts to follow instructions.
First, in my excitement to pluck the rooster’s feathers last autumn, I failed to remove the bird’s crop. Imagine my surprise when I sliced into the bird’s perfectly moist white flesh to uncover a sack filled with roasted insects, corn kernels, soy beans and leaves. Yuck! After removing the contaminated meat, I carefully deboned the clean meat from the carcass.
I then covered the roast pheasant meat with the cranberry sauce as instructed by the recipe. While the roasting Dutch oven did an absolutely perfect job of keeping the bird’s flesh moist, the cranberry sauce was so intense it covered up any hint of pheasant. I was left to eat what essentially tasted like cranberry soup.
Oh well; it’s the failures that make the successes so sweet, right? Not sure my wife, Meredith, will buy that train of thinking at the moment though. I better see if she’s still throwing up after eating a grasshopper covered in cranberry sauce. Whoops!
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.
Friday, August 13th, 2010
Allowing wild game meat to spoil away for months and years in the freezer is a pet peeve of mine. Killing it should be followed by eating it.
I do recognize that many game meats are strong and many spouses’ palettes are delicate. So with those factors in mind, I’ve got a sure fire solution for any game bird sitting in your freezer and any discerning spouse sitting across the dinner table – Wanchai Ferry’s Boxed Dinner Kits.
I first picked up a box of Wanchai Ferry three years ago prior to a big wild game dinner my wife and I host each Christmas season. From the start, I had my eyes on the Kung Pao kit with pheasant breast meat in mind. There’s no doubt General Mills dreamed up these kits for chicken, but I’ll testify to the deliciousness of Kung Pao Pheasant using the Wanchai Ferry kit. I’ve had similarly tasty experiences with Spicy Garlic Grouse, Orange Pheasant and Cashew Hungarian Partridge. They are not gourmet recipes, but they are tasty and easy ways to turn your frozen birds into dinner.
I know there are plenty of dead birds hidden away in the depths of your freezer. In a couple months you’ll be looking for space to store the 2010 season’s bounty. Give this easy recipe a try and make good use of those birds.
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
On Monday evening, I polished off the final two pheasants in the freezer from the 2009 hunting season. At the risk of freezer burn, I always try to save a couple of birds ’till my garden starts producing fresh veggies each summer. This evening’s entrée featured a pheasant stir fry complete with peas, carrots, celery, zucchini, and peppers. I washed it down with a Keweenaw Brewing Company Pick Axe Blonde Ale, but I can’t take credit for producing that delight.
It wasn’t the best pheasant feast I’ve ever prepared, but something about growing my own vegetables mixed with a couple of roosters I killed over my pointer seems to make any meal taste better. That thought got me thinking.
When it comes to passions, bird hunting is about my favorite thing to do in life. And when I start to examine why that is, the joy of cooking and pleasure of eating wild game ranks pretty near the top of the list. Sure, I love watching my shorthair work a rooster, the aesthetic beauty of an autumn walk in the waving prairie, and the thrill of the flush WITH the satisfaction of a killing shot all rank 1, 2, and 3 respectfully. However, cooking and eating wild game are right there rounding out my top 5 pleasures of bird hunting.
Examining that hierarchy, it’s pretty easy to discern why I turn my attention to ice fishing when bird season ends instead of going crow hunting. I see the thrill in shooting crows, I’d just rather put a mess of crappies in the frying pan. The delicious taste of Sandhill crane has made me an avid crane hunter, and my love for mountain lion meat has got me thinking there will be a lion hunt somewhere down the line. However, I don’t see myself chasing coyotes, raccoons, prairie dogs, or muskrats anytime soon. No offense to any folks that find great joy in any of these pursuits, I’ve simply tasted raccoons basted in blueberry barbecue sauce and would rather spend my time killing something with tastier backstraps.
So the question I post today is this: How High Is Eating What you Kill on your List?
A few other quick hits to round out today’s blog:
- If you recently checked out the Fall Preview issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal and are looking for my blog titled “I’m Just Dating My Shotgun,” follow this link.
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Although my dad would never be mistaken for a Renaissance man (he’s never folded a load of laundry in my lifetime), I did grow up in a household where both Mom and Dad enjoyed sharing the cooking responsibilities. Those meals often focused on wild game and fresh-caught fish, and rarely utilized conventional recipes.
Over time, my family developed a mandatory ritual prior to being excused from the table at the completion of every meal – RATE IT. That’s right; whether it was venison stew or a northern pike omelet, my brother Matt, Mom, Dad and I were compelled to give each and every dining experience a rating from 1 to 10. It was a fun way for all of us to learn about food and flavors.
As I read Anthony’s fantastic blog about rating the difficulty in hunting each game bird, I thought back to my folks’ own rating roots. So, to add the St.Pierre family twist to Anthony’s piece, I’ve offered my wild game rating for a few different animals’ flesh as table fare, along with a brief description on my favorite preparation.
Game Rating from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) Dish
Pheasant 8 – avoid drying out and its pink flesh is succulent Pheasant in orange sauce
Ruffed Grouse 8 – almost translucent white flesh is very mild Sauté in butter
Venison/deer 10 – my favorite meat on the planet Sauté w/garlic pepper & butter
Duck 8 – breasted / 9 – plucked / 10 – teal Grilled skin down on cast iron skillet
Goose 6 – a little gamier than duck Meredith’s goose stroganoff
Sandhill Crane 10 – “ribeye of the sky” or “flying fillet” Red meat cooked just like venison
Bobwhite Quail 7 – great flavor, but a lot of work for a little meat Roasted with apple cider glaze
Hungarian Partridge 8 – cross between pheasant & ruffed grouse Sauté in butter
Wild Turkey 7 – a leaner version than what you’ll find at Cub Deep Fried
Timberdoodle 5 – “flying liver” is not my favorite Looking for a good recipe
Sharp-tailed Grouse 4 – envious of the timberdoodle Still looking for a good recipe
Mountain Goat 8 – full of flavor, but not over-powering Roasted
Mountain Lion 9 – pinkish meat is a crowd-pleasing surprise Lion jambalaya
Elk 9 – slightly different than venison, little tougher Sauté w/garlic pepper & butter
Black Bear 6 – pretty tough, but excellent flavor Roasted in red wine & pepper
Snapping Turtle 8 – white meat that’s a little chewy Pan fried
Frog Legs 7 – white meat that’s a little chewier than turtle Fried
I haven’t had a chance to try moose or the wide variety of quail and grouse species, but they are definitely on my short list. How would your ratings differ from my palate?
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
Looking for some great recipes to test out with your wild game? Check out Pheasants Forever’s Essential Game Bird Cookbook.