Posts Tagged ‘wild game cooking’
Monday, November 26th, 2012
A few months back, a friend of mine opened up to me about his secret passion for woodcock hunting. I, too, have an undeniable love affair with the American timberdoodle. This migrating aspen and alder tornado is an awesome game bird for pointing dogs and an under-appreciated challenge for wingshooters.
This same anonymous friend shared with me a woodcock recipe to transform the timberdoodle from a meat equated to flying liver into a white linen delicacy. I’ve bagged 15 woodcock this season and sautéed every single one to rave reviews employing his recipe. Unfortunately, I’ve exhausted my timberdoodle freezer reserves; consequently, last evening I substituted Nebraska’s Rooster Road Trip quail for woodcock in my newfound favorite recipe. Whether you’ve got timberdoodle, quail, ruffed grouse or a pheasant breast in the freezer, I believe you’ll find this recipe easy, tasty and addictive.
- 3 de-boned quail breasts
- Olive oil
- Chef Paul Prudhommes redfish blackening seasoning
1) Brush the quail breasts generously with olive oil
2) Liberally sprinkle the breasts with Chef Paul Prudhommes blackening seasoning
3) Sauté the breasts on medium-high heat in a frying pan for 3 or 4 minutes
4) Flip the breasts over and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes
5) Serve with a side of Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and wild rice
Friday, November 9th, 2012
“Eat your vegetables Bobby,” was the nightly ultimatum from Mom while growing up. Green beans, peas, spinach and even broccoli presented no problems in meeting her demands, but my delicate childhood palate did have one little green nemesis – Brussels sprouts.
Like most kids, I “guaranteed” vomiting if I were made to eat something as detestable as a Brussels sprout. And also like most kids, I’ve grown to love foods I scorned as a youngster. In the case of Brussels sprouts, I have a pheasant dish to thank for my new found love affair with these green little nuggets of goodness. The pheasant dish of which I speak is pheasant tortellini with Brussels sprouts and I developed it on a whim while grabbing some pre-packaged pasta fixings in the cold case of my local grocer. I also prepared this easy recipe for Anthony & Andrew while on this year’s Rooster Road Trip.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- · One pheasant breast deboned and cut into 1 inch cubes
- · Approximately two dozen Brussels sprouts cut in half
- · A package of cleaned portabella button mushrooms
- · A package of cheese tortellini
- · A package of Alfredo cream sauce
- · A half stick of butter
1. Add butter to a large frying pan and melt. When the butter is melted add pheasant meat to the frying pan and sauté till the pheasant begins to brown.
2. Sauté the mushrooms in butter in a separate frying pan.
3. Likewise sauté the Brussels sprouts in butter in a third frying pan until they begin to caramelize.
4. Combine the pheasant, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts into one large frying pan and reduce heat to low.
5. Boil the tortellini as instructed on packaging
6. Combine cooked tortellini with pheasant, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts.
7. Pour Alfredo cream sauce over all ingredients.
8. Stir everything, so Alfredo sauce is evenly distributed and simmer uncovered for three minutes.
9. Serve & Enjoy
I realize this isn’t fine dining and some culinary purists will rip me for covering up the delightful taste of pheasant in cream sauce. I get it. Nonetheless, this is a very easy dish to make, and a really palatable dish for those folks that may be new and tentative to eating wild game. It’s a great way to walk them through the wild game door with little risk of being turned off. Or in my case, it’s a great way to learn to enjoy Brussels sprouts.
Now that I’ve tackled Brussels sprouts, I think I’m finally ready to confront lima beans. Anyone got a pheasant recipe that includes lima beans?
Thursday, October 18th, 2012
I realize a pheasant breast is the “Holy Grail” of wild game succulence, but don’t overlook a rooster’s thighs and legs. And for goodness sake, don’t just breast the bird and garbage the remainder. Pheasant legs are certainly tougher to cook, but a rooster’s legs and thighs actually produce quite a lot of tasty dark meat when handled with care.
Perhaps the easiest way to put those pheasant legs to good use is in soup, which is exactly what I prepared last evening with my opening weekend’s rooster legs and the last of my garden’s produce.
- 2 sets of pheasant legs
- 3 cups of sliced carrots
- 2 cups of sliced celery
- 1 small tin of mushrooms
- 1 small can of corn kernels
- 1 small tin of sliced water chestnuts
- 10 chicken bouillon cubes or chicken stock
- Small box of your favorite noodles (shells, O’s, etc.)
1) Start by slow boiling the pheasant legs in water for roughly 15 minutes.
2) Remove the legs from the water and let cool.
3) Reduce the remaining water to a low simmer.
4) Cook noodles as instructed on the box in a separate pot.
5) Add bouillon cubes and additional water to the remaining water from the boiled pheasant leg pan after the water has cooled a bit.
6) Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, corn and water chestnuts to the pot of simmering water.
7) After the pheasant legs have cooled, pick the meat off the bones being careful to remove any tendons from the lower leg meat.
8) Add the pulled leg meat to the soup.
9) Add the cooked noodles to the soup.
10) Simmer the soup on low, stirring occasionally for about an hour.
11) Serve with your favorite soup cracker.
This preparation is definitely not fancy, but it’s certainly not difficult. And, I promise, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll begin looking forward to saving the legs from future roosters.
Do you have a favorite pheasant leg recipe? Send it my way!
Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
A Pheasants Forever chapter volunteer from Minnesota recently flattered me complimenting this blog, and in particular, my writing focused on wild game cooking. This gentleman even suggested I consider giving a few presentations on the Cooking Stage at National Pheasant Fest.
Shortly after that compliment, I dug out a plucked pheasant from the basement chest freezer and was inspired to create Grapefruit Honey Pheasant. To my thinking, honey, with its sweetness and caramelizing nature, was a safe bet to start the recipe. And without the natural complimentary ingredient of oranges in our fridge, I grabbed for its citrus cousin, a grapefruit. That’s where I made a “bitter” mistake. While the photos may mislead you to believe I’ve accomplished a new pheasant dining masterpiece, I’ll warn you not to try this recipe at home. The bitter citrus of the grapefruit simply did not marry well with the honey’s sweetness. While Meredith and I were able to finish the meal without a pizza delivery necessary, I wouldn’t recommend replicating this experiment in your own roaster.
In the end, my Grapefruit Honey Pheasant proved to me, my wife and my bird dogs that my cooking skills are still elementary at best and certainly not ready for stage time exposure. That’s okay. Wild game cooking, er . . . experimenting, is one of my favorite aspects of the hunting cycle. Conservation leads to wildlife habitat, wildlife habitat leads to better hunting, good bird dogs and straight shooting put more meat in the freezer, and a little experimenting in the kitchen leads to good wild game eating . . . most of the time.
So, I know I’m not the only amateur chef to bomb in the kitchen. What’s your own “best” wild game recipe flop?
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!
Monday, June 18th, 2012
If you’ve read my blog over the last year, you know my leisure reading often focuses on the connection between hunting and food. Steven Rinella’s two novels, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and American Buffalo, first hooked me on the subject. Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook and Georgia Pellegrini’s Girl Hunter extended my interest in the theme. My latest exploration of the topic was Tovar Cerulli’s new book The Mindful Carnivore.
Admittedly, I was skeptical beginning Cerulli’s book. The jacket cover promoted the book as a vegan’s journey into hunting, so I was on alert for a disingenuous story of incongruous ideologies to simply turn a couple bucks. My fears were quickly calmed with Cerulli’s scholarly treatment of the subject, and ultimately I became fascinated with his internal struggles coming to terms with the decision to put the killing of his family’s food into his own hands. Like Aldo Leopold, Cerulli came to recognize the problems associated with society’s lack of understanding about food and its connection to land.
What I enjoyed most about The Mindful Carnivore was the amount of focus Cerulli spent on the connection between wildlife habitat conservation, hunting and food. While Rinella, Shaw and Pellegrini all addressed conservation to varying degrees, Cerulli dove deep into the topic and even held conservation up as the reason hunting made sense to him over vegetarianism. In the process, he came to the realization that all food – vegetables and meat –result in the death of animals one way or another. As you can imagine from Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s perspective, I was excited to read Cerulli’s compelling arguments for a conservation ethic when making food choices.
The only trouble I had with the book was the majority of Cerulli’s hunting focused on whitetails. While it’s hard to argue with the volume of meat and taste of venison from a deer, I’d have liked to read about Cerulli’s perspective of hunting birds in cooperation with animals- dogs. Perhaps that’s part of his future plans.
Although this is his first book, Cerulli writes with the confidence of a seasoned vet. His voice is engaging, his rationale logical, and his research thorough. Overall, The Mindful Carnivore was a really easy, thought-provoking read.
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.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, women’s participation in hunting has increased by 36.6 percent over the last decade. That percentage represents 660,000 new female hunters busting cattails, climbing into tree stands and hiding in camouflaged pit blinds. One of those women is Georgia Pellegrini, author of the new book Girl Hunter.
Theories abound as to why women are picking up firearms or bows in greater numbers these days. As near as I can tell, women’s reasons for enjoying hunting are as diverse as their male counterparts. In Georgia’s case, her love of food was the genesis for her interest in hunting. She explains, “I’m an omnivore who has solved her dilemma; I’m a girl hunter.”
Like Steven Rinella’s The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook, Pellegrini’s Girl Hunter leads the reader on a variety of hunting adventures through the eyes of a chef first and a woman second. The end of each chapter also features a handful of recipes associated with the game she pursued during the chapter.
In the book, Georgia pursues upland birds, waterfowl and big game. She even slays a wild boar with only a knife in hand. All the while, her hunts are shaped by the people who serve as mentors, guides, and friends. There are also a few encounters with the kinds of unethical people who give all hunters and men bad reputations.
Girl Hunter’s characters are well-rounded and the stories move at a rapid pace making for a very fun read; however, it’s Georgia’s own thoughts about hunting for food that resonated most for me. In particular, the book’s last chapter about squirrel hunting stands out. I have never been a fan of squirrel meat or squirrel hunting, but the juxtaposition of this beautiful and intelligent city girl waxing poetic about her love of the nutty flavor of squirrel meat has made me anxious for September’s squirrel season.
Whether you’re a man or woman, long-time hunter or newbie, I highly recommend you find some time to read Girl Hunter.
NOTE: I also had the pleasure of interviewing Georgia for FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN 100.3FM. Listen to the March 31st podcasts for Georgia’s own recount of the book and her introduction to hunting.
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
At the request of @Noah B, a commenter of my “Wild Game Dinner Parties” blog post, I attained my buddy Matt Kucharski’s spectacular Peking Pheasant recipe. Matt is a savvy public relations professional, a dynamic adjunct college professor and a skilled wingshooter; however, his true calling may be in the kitchen tied up in an apron as a wild game chef. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with Matt’s Peking Pheasant preparation. Here you go!
Ingredients (serves 3-4 four):
- 1 lb pheasant breast, cut into ½ inch by 1 inch slices (cubed also fine). Thigh meat can be used to stretch, but can be chewy.
- 3 tbsp corn starch or flour (corn starch preferred)
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp frying oil (canola or vegetable)
- (Optional) 1 whole sweet red bell pepper, julienned
- (Optional) 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 2 minced garlic cloves or tbsp of minced jar garlic, separated in half
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup House of Tsang Spicey Szechuan Stir Fry sauce (available in most grocery stores – other brands can be substituted but this one works well)
- (Optional) 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
Sauce: Mix 1 tbsp garlic, ketchup, soy sauce, stir fry sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Brown sugar gives the final dish a little bit more caramelizing and a hint of sweetness.
- In a wok, heat oil and lightly sauté remaining garlic.
- Mix corn starch, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add small amounts of pheasant to coat and set aside.
- Oil is hot enough when a small piece of pheasant sizzles the moment it is dropped in. Gradually add small amounts of pheasant and stir fry until golden brown and slightly crisp, keeping pieces separate to create individual “nuggets”. Add more oil as needed, and set aside finished pieces on paper towel.
- When pheasant is cooked, remove from wok and stir fry pepper and beans until barely tender
- Add pheasant back into wok and lightly stir fry until warm
- Add sauce and toss to coat all contents and heat until sauce bubbles.
Serve hot with rice and lo mein noodles.
Sunday, January 8th, 2012
Every holiday season, my wife and I host a party we call “Pheasant Feast.” In fact, last month we hosted Pheasant Feast IX . . . Yes, we’re now using Roman Numerals in our invitations. Nevertheless, this has become an annual tradition and a lot of fun for our friends and family. I’ve even enlisted my hunting buddy Matt Kucharski as co-chef for the event. This year, we were joined by two dozen guests for a night of taste-testing comprised exclusively of wild game.
The 2011 Pheasant Feast menu included:
- · Peking Pheasant
- · Pheasant a l’Orange
- · Poached Blueberry Ruffed Grouse
- · Roast Moose with Coffee Gravy
- · Pheasant Tortellini with Brussels sprouts
- · Minnesota Wild Rice Soup
- · Duck Rumaki
- · Jalapeno Pheasant Poppers
- · Tenderloin of Venison
- · 7-Up Northern Pike
- · Pheasant Pesto Pizza
- · Desserts, Beer & Vino
As you can imagine, some of these dishes turned out better than others when more than ten preparations are on the grill, stovetop and oven. The low spot of this roster was certainly the 7-Up Northern Pike . . . I won’t be reproducing that funky fish anytime soon. However, I plan to do my best to replicate Matt’s Peking Pheasant recipe this weekend. All in all, leftovers were non-existent which I consider a good indication of success.
As I reflect on this menu, I naturally think about the camaraderie of a day spent afield with friends and family pheasant hunting. However, what Pheasant Feast also reminds me of is the power wild game has of bringing family and friends together around the table. For me, the meal is almost, almost as important as the hunt and also nearly as fun.
What about you, have you ever hosted a wild game dinner party?