Posts Tagged ‘wine’
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.
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
On Saturday morning, after my co-hosting duties on FAN Outdoors radio were complete, I drove over to Haskell’s in downtown Minneapolis for a wine tutorial with Beau Farrell. The Farrell family has owned Haskell’s for more than four decades. In that time, Haskell’s has become Minnesota’s wine experts. Additionally, the Farrell’s are a hunting family with a fondness for yellow Labs, duck blinds, pheasant fields and matching the perfect vintage with wild game. In other words, they’re my kind of folks!
My goal for the morning was to learn how to pair wild game with the right variety of wine. Beau was up for the challenge and started off by explaining four basic principles about wine pairing.
First, wild game is difficult for most people to match with wine because folks are accustomed to beef or chicken; or white meat with white wines and read meat with red wines. That basic principle doesn’t always hold true anymore; especially, when dealing with wild game meats.
Second, as with any meat, how you prepare the dish (marinades, sauces, spices, etc) has a big impact on how the wine will compliment the food.
Third, the goal of pairing any wine with a meal is to find “balance.” In Beau’s words, “you don’t want one to over-power the other. You want the wine to compliment the meal.”
And lastly, Beau advised me to remember two rudimentary rules of thumb; “opposites attract” and “likes attract likes.” In other words, a big bold venison steak pairs well with a similarly big and bold red. In contrast, a hot & spicy dish often marries well with its cool & sweet wine counterpart.
So for this exercise, I picked six of my favorite wild game recipes and asked Beau’s assistance in pairing the perfect wine to match the meat. We wound up selecting two options for each dish. All of the wines selected are part of Haskell’s Summer Sale which runs through September 6th, 2010.
1) Duck Rumaki (appetizer): Cube a couple duck breasts, marinate them in boysenberry pancake syrup, wrap each piece around a water chestnut, and then wrap it in bacon holding the combo together by a tooth pick. Throw these tasty appetizers on the grill till the bacon is crispy.
- Wine Pairing Option 1: #627850 –N/V Centenaire Brut $12.99/bottle
~A Non-Vintage dry French sparkling wine such as Centenaire Brut will serve two purposes here. It serves as a great starter, or welcoming wine to any party or dinner, and it will compliment the duck & bacon quite well. It is very crisp and has a small amount of yeast.
- Wine Pairing Option 2: #612544 –2009 La Forge Viognier $12.99/bottle
~This Viognier (VEE-OH-NAY) is a grape from the Languedoc. La Forge Estate makes excellent wine. This wine will dazzle you with flavors of peach, apricot and vanilla. The wine finishes with a mineral component that will serve the appetizer quite well.
- Wine Pairing: #603958 -2003 Vereinigte Hospitien Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese $17.49/per bottle.
~This Riesling is from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, which is a river valley in western Germany. Spatlese indicates a medium amount of sugar in the Riesling. Simply put, a spicy dish is complimented best with a sweet wine, hence the rule of thumb, opposites attract.
3) Roasted Quail: With bobwhite quail’s delicate white meat, Beau recommended quail be treated similarly to chicken when pairing with wine. A good medium to light bodied red wine should suffice.
- Wine Pairing Option 1: #625150 -2007 Chateau de la Chaize Brouilly $9.99/bottle
~Brouilly is a small town in the region of Beaujolais. Beaujolais, which is Beau’s actual name shortened, is a region in France that grows the Gamay grape. They produce mild and fruity red wines that are light to medium to bold in body. Serve this red wine slightly chilled.
*(Each November another Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau, is released to celebrate the year’s harvest. They say if you drink a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau within the year it is produced, you will have good luck the following year. Stay tuned for the Beaujolais Nouveau release in November during hunting season).
- Wine Pairing Option 2: #552328 -2007 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee $44.99/bottle
~Domaine Serene is a great vineyard situated in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Ken & Grace Evenstad, previously from Minnesota, have built a top notch vineyard there. They have taken on some of the finest Pinot Noir wine regions in the world and won. Not only famous for great Pinot Noir, the Willamette Valley is the birthplace to pheasants in America. That’s right; pheasants were first introduced to the United States in 1881 by Owen Denny, the U.S. Ambassador to China at the time.
4) Grilled Pheasant Breast: My question to Beau; “What is the best wine for a classic grilled pheasant entre?” His answer; “Pheasant just screams the Rhone Valley in Southern France.”
- Wine Pairing Option 1: #625854 -2007 Cotes-du-Rhone “Les Trois Couronnes” $11.99/bottle
~A great value in the current wine world is just about anything from the Cote-du-Rhone region. The “Les Trois Courronnes” or “3 Crowns” is primarily made from the Grenache grape. It is 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah.
- Wine Pairing Option 2: #625672 -2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Les Amadous’ $29.99
~Another gem from the Rhone Valley. It’s a very hearty, big red wine that goes well with a variety of pheasant preparations. 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah
5) Venison Steak: A tender venison back strap lightly seasoned with garlic and pepper is my favorite meal on the planet.
- Wine Pairing Option 1: #625944 -2006 Chateau Malmaison $19.99/bottle
~Chateau Malmaison is from the Medoc Region in Bordeaux, France and features the region’s classic blend of Cabernet and Merlot creating aromas of blackberry and raspberry jam. This wine is 80% Merlot & 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. On the palate, the wine is full bodied with very soft tannins. Great finish. 90 point rating from Wine Spectator. Also, #84 out of TOP 100 wines of 2009.
- Wine Pairing Option 2: #610001 -2006 Aguaribay Malbec $8.99/bottle
~Argentina’s famed wine regions are geographically situated for some ideal growing conditions. High elevations, Pacific climate, long hot sunny days followed by cool nights create some great everyday drinking wines. Malbec marries well with garlic & peppered steak. It has a spicy element to it. Likes attract likes.
6) Classic Cream of Mushroom Pheasant over Mashed Potatoes: Every pheasant mom’s favorite crock pot creation.
- Wine Pairing Option 1: #610304 -2007 Cotes du Rhone Rasteau “Les Peyrieres” $12.99/bottle
~This little wine is the perfect vino to compliment mom’s hearty pheasant meal on a chilly autumn day. The wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, & 10% Mourvedre. A very versatile wine that has great structure and balance.
- Wine Pairing Option 2: #611500 -2004 Savigny Les Beaune “Le Village” Villamont $29.99/bottle
~100% Pinot Noir from Savigny Les Beaune, Burgundy. This is an amazing wine with elegance and good structure and has lots of ripe red fruit on the nose, such as strawberry and cranberry. Nice round edges and a solid backbone. A classic meant to compliment a classic dish.
Do you have a favorite wild game meal you’ve been searching to pair with the perfect wine? Do you have any other random wine questions? Email Haskell’s Beau Farrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.