BEFORE YOU READ ANY OF THESE RECIPES, READ THIS...you will thank us

Below is an Essay by Chef John McGannon
Having this knowledge and understanding WILL Give you better results from your Wild Game Dishes
PERIOD



A WildEats perspective on achieving the maximum potential
for all your wild game harvests

This is NOT your mother’s meat source...

Many things come into play when dealing with your hard earned wild game harvests...including many aspects that have always been someone else's concern. Well, if you want your treasured wild game meat to live to its potential...those aspects NEED to become your concern as well. Here is a collection of potential pitfalls that can have a negative impact on the quality of the meat in your freezer. Understand these details and the results will be quite evident...at your table.

Passion runs very deep in the hearts of us who crave the autumn ritual of heading to the hills in search of nature’s bounty. The sights, smells and feel of an early morning sunrise are hard to equal. I’ve been fortunate enough to have an equal passion in what takes place after a successful hunting trip- the culinary result from all that hard work.

These passions have been apart of humane survival from the beginning of time and unfortunately there are many that have never experienced a piece of wild game meat for what it really can be. We’ve all heard the expression; “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. This is the first in a series of articles designed to assist those of us who choose to harvest our meat AND want to maximize its potential.
PASSION is the first link to developing a strong chain. Understanding what happens to our meat products from the field to the feast is an important step towards building superior links.

LINK I
Marksmanship (shot selection)/ Slaughter House Mentality


In slaughterhouses across the country the ultimate goal is to humanely dispatch the animal of choice without subjecting it to stress. This is done a number of ways including the use of a stun gun. The animal is kept very calm and is basically knocked unconscious without ever knowing what is about to happen. Under these conditions the muscle structure never gets a chance to develop adrenaline or the endorphins associated with undo stress or trauma. Adrenaline and the chemical reaction that occurs when an animal is under these conditions cause the muscle tissue to swell and become almost impossible to tenderize. This same situation often happens during the rut, but that’s a self-induced state of adrenaline.

Not long ago I was given some moose meat that was harvested at the peak of the rut. I was told it was pretty tough and my buddy wanted to see if I could get better results than he was getting. I tried dry aging it for a couple of weeks. After trimming off all the dried outer edges I noticed that I could visibly see the swollen sections of the muscle tissue. Each grain of muscle literally stuck out like someone or something pumped it up. All the dry aging in the world wasn’t going to breakdown that muscle.

An animal that is immediately dispatched will have much better table value than one that endures trauma and stress, even if it’s self-inflicted. So, the first step to a solid beginning “link” actually has nothing to do with cooking, it’s all about shot placement. Making a shot selection that will dispatch an animal in the same fashion as in a slaughterhouse environment WILL give you the greatest chance to reach the maximum result.

Accuracy, Shot Selection and Patients are the first steps to getting the most out of your meat

Of course there are other issues that have an effect on the quality of wild game meat and they include-
Age of the Animal - Older animals simply have muscles that are more developed.
Health – A free ranging animal has many obstacles throughout its life that effect it over all health. If you notice an animal that isn’t physically acting right you may want to consider selecting one that is.
Rut – The rut effects the quality of the meat by filling it with adrenaline and the endorphins that come with the physical vigor’s of combating for the right to breed. Not to mention the possible cross contamination potential from all the components of an active wallow!
Weather/Diet – And last but not least the seasonal weather is so important as it controls how much and what groceries these animals have throughout the year. All of which play an important part in their overall health and the quality of their meat.

Once THAT shot has landed there's NO going back. Make it a good one.

LINK II
Environmental Cleanliness


“Cross Contamination” is a term used by the Department of Public Health describing when a physical/tangible item is spread to another physical or tangible item. This term is general associated with contaminates that have the potential to induce bacterial, viral or microorganism infestation. When dealing with wild game animals we all need to be concerned with the potential of all of these possibilities. Without getting into a biological discussion, simply understanding how to avoid such a circumstances will help you, not only prevent possible health issues but also increase the culinary value of your hard-earned harvests.

This issue seems to be a very simple one and should be considered common sense, but we can all attest to the fact that the moments right after you've scored the biggest bull or buck of your life things can get a little cloudy. I have witnessed first hand just how excited some folks can get after a successful hunt. Simply surviving the trip back to camp can be a challenge for some. So, to add some clarity to this subject lets review proper field hygiene. Recreating a slaughterhouse environment is still our goal.
In this case we are referring to setting up a
clean work environment. An item like a space blanket doubles as a good working area. Lay out your blanket and lift or pull the animal on top. Obviously this will help to keep the dirt, leaves, mud or water off your meat.

Now there are several things to consider when determining on whether or not to skin your animal in the field-

  • the outside temperature
  • the method in which it is being transported
  • the distance you have to travel before it gets into a cold environment

In higher temperatures I will immediately remove the hide to allow the meat to start cooling as fast as possible. If its cold outside and I have a short trip back to camp I'll consider leaving the hide on to protect the meat from possible cross contamination. Every situation is a little different and requires a little thought. It's kind of a trade off - Can you afford to sacrifice a little time at higher internal temperature to avoid the possibility of dirt mud leaves etc? Or, if your trip will be a long one do you risk spoiling your meat by keeping it in the danger zone for too long with the hide on. The "Danger Zone" is between 45 °F - 140°F and is where bacteria grows the quickest. Unfortunately the internal body temperature of most mammals are right in the middle of that zone. This is why understanding what happened when meat is exposed to these volatile temperature ranges is so important. We'll be covering temperature awareness in the next article. So if you do skin your animal. You should cover the meat with breathable game bags for transporting. A cotton or poly material game bag will allow the moisture and heat to escape while protecting the meat from foreign matter and insects.
Possible contributors to cross contamination

Hair/Hide
– The problem really isn’t the hide or the hair but what’s riding along. As we know the animals that we pursue rely greatly on scent. The manner to which they achieve this scent varies with season but include – urine, feces and glandular secretions, not to mention mud, dirt, sap and whatever is prevalent in their environments. Obviously these are not things we want on our meat. If you are removing the hide keep the meat from touching it. If you touch it with your hands DON’T handle the meat unless you have a CLEAN pare of gloves or have washed your hands thoroughly.

Internal Fluids – There are many fluids and bi-products located in the internal structure of an animal, most of which aren’t very good for your meat. You should avoid cutting in to, puncturing or dispersing these fluids or bi product on any part of your meat. They will have a lasting effect on the quality of your meat and are a big culprit in causing “gamey” meat. If you find you have possible contaminants while cleaning your animal you should wipe it off and dry it with a clean cloth or towel. I don’t recommend rinsing it out with water because that only spreads the contaminants throughout the cavity of your animal. The combination of water (moisture) and microorganisms WILL rapidly deteriorate the palatability of your meat. Drying out the meat will give you the greatest chance of recovering a high quality product.

Hand to Meat Contact – Once the hide and the internal organs are removed we need to deal with the meat. This requires handling and touching and if our hands are contaminated with the above mentioned items your meat will be contaminated by what's on your hands.

Added Water/Moisture – Unless you're in a controlled environment, like a walk in refrigerator with a good fan to remove excess humidity and moisture be careful when dealing with water on your meat. The combination of added moisture and warm temperature is a haven for bacterial growth and meat spoilage. Taking your carcass down to the river to wash it out will likely do more damage to the quality of the meat than if you simply wiped it off. First you don't really know what's in the water your cleaning your meat with. (Giardia is present in even the clearest running stream or creek. Feces and urine from domestic cattle and sheep are always a concern even in the deepest forest.) Plus, you'll be spreading whatever impurities your trying to remove over the entire carcass. "Keep it dry and keep it clean".

AIDS
Latex Gloves (multiple) - Change your gloves as often as needed…they aren't that costly
Baby Wipes - These are great when you don't have water to clean your hands. I recommend the unscented varieties. They are also great when laid over a lantern in the morning when you want to knock the sleep off your face.
Space Blanket - These make a great lightweight tarp to work on
Rope or parachute cord - to hang meat once it is removed from the carcass
Breathable Game Bags - Protects your meat from dirt, insects, while allowing the meat to cool and dry.


LINK III
“The BIG Chill”
Temperature Awareness


In the food industry there’s a term called “the Danger Zone”. This refers to a temperature range of 45°F - 140°F. Meat (food products) left in this zone for extended periods of time are subject to rapid bacterial growth, with declining culinary value. Unfortunately, the internal body temperature of all the fur/feather-baring animals we pursue are in the middle of this dangerous area. It is very important to do everything you can to remove the internal temperature of your wild game meat as soon as possible.

The biological structure of an animal’s anatomy is designed to maintain its body temperature, especially around the internal organs. This is why the forequarter and neck areas are the first to spoil. The natural insulation of multiple layers of meat, bone & hide is what allows this animal to survive the extreme cold winter temperatures, but it’s also the reason why it’s subject to spoilage. Spoilage occurs when the internal temperature is not allowed to escape and the internal temperatures remain in the “danger zone” for too long. According to the Department of Public Health, you have 2 hours to get the temperature down to 70°F and another 4 hours to get it below 40°F.

An open-air environment is best to dissipate the internal temperature of a piece of meat. Air circulation is very critical in the removal of this temperature. Even the slightest breeze or air movement will help chill the meat and assist in getting it out of the danger zone.
Anything that traps the internal heat of a piece of meat is not recommended. Items like plastic bags and even coolers can trap the air around the meat and act as an insulator.
Remember a cooler really isn’t a cooler, it’s an insulator. If there’s no place for the heat to escape it will maintain in the danger zone for a very long time even if it’s packed with plenty of ice.

AIDS

  • Always use breathable game bags to store your meat, they allow both the heat and the moisture to escape. The combination of high temperature and moisture is a recipe for disaster.
  • Use the Wind/Shade/Slopes to create drafts to your advantage when selecting a meat pole
  • Preserve Coldness – Once your meat has chilled down during the night you now want to maintain that internal temperature. Just as with the cooler, a sleeping bag doesn’t just keep you warm. It’s an insulator and it doesn’t care if it insulates warm or cold. Wrap your cold carcass with an extra sleeping bag to maintain its cold temperature during the heat of the day.
  • Self-inflicted Hypothermia – Just as wetness against your body will rob it of its warmth, a thin layer of water in combination with wind will help displace temperature of your meat.


LINK IV
“Dry Aging” Wild Game Meat
"The single most important aspect in maximizing the potential of your wild game meat"


We need to understand that most wild birds and big game animals are the equivalent of Olympic athletes. They fly thousands of miles during migration, or run up and down 10,000-foot mountains for a living. Mature game animals are usually tremendous physical specimens. The only way to break down the structure of their muscles and make the meat tender, without resorting to meat hammers and artificial tenderizing agents is to give nature time to do its work, at temperatures that discourage bacterial activity. This whole process is referred to as “Dry Aging.”

“Dry aging is nothing more than a dehydration and decaying process that basically breaks down the fiber structure of those highly developed muscle tissues.”


The objective is to remove as much of the capillary blood as possible. This is the blood found in muscles and is basically the broken down bi-product of what that animal has consumed. The body filters all the nutrients from these food products and is carried in this capillary blood. So when you harvest that big old mule deer buck that has been feeding on sage and bitter brush for the past six years those bi products are very noticeable in the aggressive flavor of that meat. Well many folks want to soak that meat in some ungodly concoction so the good stuff goes in and the bad goes out. Well that simply doesn’t work. Yes, you can add enough culinary band-aides to cover up just about anything. But then you never really experience the fabulous potential of properly handled wild game meat.

I guarantee if you try dry aging you’ll never go back.


Dry Aging is nothing more than the removal of the internal moisture and capillary blood from your meat. Without these liquid properties the tough fiber structure of these highly developed muscles simply break down. You can check to see if your meat has been aged long enough by squeezing the meat with your fingers. A properly aged piece of meat will yield to the pressure of your fingers, One that hasn’t been aged will bounce back like a rubber ball. Also the color of the meat will go from eggplant purple (fully saturated) to the color of veal (blood removed). Dry Aging gives you a two-fold benefit – it tenderizes the meat and removes the aggressive flavors that are present in the capillary blood. This process can be done at any time whether your hanging quarters or racking individual muscles on a stainless steel rack in your frig. And it can be done before or after the meat has been frozen.


DRY AGING TIME LINE
THIS IS Always DONE UNDER REFRIGERATION, At temperatures below 40°F (Frozen meat products are not dry aging)

These birds have been plucked and eviscerated with the internal cavity wiped clean. You can initiate drying from a fresh state as well as after it has defrosted from the freezer. These time lines start when the meat is completely defrosted.

Dry Aging breasted out birds without any skin/bones to slow the drying process DO NOT APPLY to this time line. You can dry age those pieces of meat to a certain degree BUT since the meat will dry out too quickly, you will loose a great deal of meat in the process. This is a slow and gradual process. You get out what you put in. Breasting is a fast and easy way to avoid plucking and cleaning but like most shortcuts comes with a price. If you do have some breasts like the ones below try placing a dry (lint-free) towel over the meat. This will slow the evaporation process down a bit and extend the time you can dry out those tough fibrous tissues.

UPLAND BIRDS Quail 1 day Chukar/Partridge 2 days Grouse 2-3 days Pheasant 2-3 days Wild Turkey 3-4 days
These are recommended times for whole birds with the skin attached. The skin plays a vital role in slowing down the evaporation process. As I stated before Dry Aging needs to be a slow and gradual process. If the meat dries out too fast then you aren’t accomplishing your goal of breaking down the fiber structure. You see, those little tough fibers need time to breakdown as they are drying.

Planted birds require a little less time, as their muscle structure isn’t so developed.

RED MEAT BIRDS Doves 1 day Band-tailed pigeons 1-2 days Teal (sm. ducks) 1-2 days Widgeon (med. ducks) 2-4 days Sprig/Mallards (lg. ducks) 4-7 days Specks/Snow Geese 7-10 days Honkers* 10-14 days

* Aging these very tough birds for this long will give you an incredible tender result. Once aged bone-out the breasts and treat as though they were a tender steak. Cook quickly and rare. Save the legs for chili, stew or sausage. You won’t believe how tender they can be if you have the patients! Always slice across the grain.

LARGE GAME ANIMALS Elk, Moose (quarters) 14 days Elk, Moose (muscle groups, i.e. top sirloin) 7-10 days Deer, Caribou, Sheep, Antelope (quarters) 10 days Deer, Caribou, Sheep, Antelope (muscle groups) 7-10 days Wild Boar (quarters) 8 days Wild Boar (muscle groups) 4-8 days Bear** 4-8 days
If you have your meat already cut into steaks the same approach applies as with the breast situation. The meat will dry out too quickly. If you have no choice at this point you can dry age your steaks for a day or two and it will help. It just won’t have the chance to get to its full potential. You’ll know better next time.

** Dealing with bear meat can be a little tricky. If the bear is consuming garbage as a source of its diet it could be subject to parasites, viruses and microorganisms that can be harmful to human consumption. Please be careful when dealing with bear meat. I would recommend cooking bear meat thoroughly (above 165° F) before eating. This isn’t always the case but its better to be safe than sorry.


Even your ground meat will benefit greatly from being placed in a colander in a bowl, covered and left in the frig. Overnight. The amount of blood that comes out will blow you away. You won’t have to deal with gray hamburgers anymore.
Don't blame the animal if your meat is tough...your meat is just TOO fresh!

LINK V
The Freezing/Defrosting Dilemma


Over the last two decades I’ve been asked to do ALOT of volunteer/donated fund raising events for wildlife habitat organizations (over $120,000.00 raised for wildlife). A figure I am very proud of but that’s another story. In doing these fundraiser dinners and dealing with donated meat products I’ve found that many of us don’t take the time to properly care for the treasure’s buried in our freezers. With the hunt and meat pre-care over it’s very easy to fall short when it comes to properly packaging and storing our meat. These little chunks of happiness will tell their story once they are removed.
“You get
OUT - what you put it IN.”

In my opinion the most efficient freezers are chest freezers. Their top opening mechanism allows them to retain a great deal of coldness even when the door is open.

Problem Areas-

Frost Free Freezers – Although, very efficient when it comes to not collecting frost, they play a big part in collecting freezer burn. These units go through a very slight heating cycle to remove the moisture and frost that accumulates. Each time this happens a microscopic part of our meat defrosts. This may not seem substantial but if you count the number of cycles a freezer goes through over a year or two it’s enough to purge the moisture out of your frozen meat. Hence freezer-burn. This is more likely to happen in areas that are loosely wrapped. Double Wrapping and vacuum bags will help eliminate air gaps. This is where freezer burn is most likely to occur.

Slow Defrosting Challenge –

Today’s world runs at a very hectic pace. Most of us don’t think about what we are having for dinner until we get hungry. Throwing that frozen block of meat on the counter before you head to work is a perfect way to destroy the natural integrity of your meat. And an easy way to breakdown the chain in your culinary “links of success.”
Here’s what happens to that frozen piece of meat as it sits on your counter top-

The difference between a freezer, 10°F or less and the counter top 70°F is pretty substantial, at least in the world of moisture molecules. Every piece of meat has these little cells that hold in its natural moisture. Upon freezing these cells expand. As they expand the outer cell wall becomes very fragile. Picture a balloon when its blown up. When they go from a 10°F freezer to a 70°F counter top, it defrosts so quickly that the fragile cells can’t hold their own weight and burst. That explains the puddle of mystery liquid on the plate.
To stop this purging we need to take some very simple steps. Mostly, become a little more organized. Take your meat from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator. Going from a 10°F freezer to a 35°F refrigerator is only 25°F difference. Now, those cells are defrosting much slower, and can actually go back to their original shape and hold the weight of their internal moisture. This assures that the piece of meat you end up with is as close to the one that you put into the freezer. It should take approximately two – three days for a given block of meat to defrost under these conditions. Be patient and organized and give that meat a chance to “be all that it can be.”
defrosting chart

Proper Labeling

Avoid the mystery blocks of frozen matter in the bottom of your freezer. Label each piece with species, state, date and exact cut - eye round, top sirloin, back-straps etc. Leave the guessing to picking those winning lottery numbers, not selecting your next meal.

LINK VI
“Know your Cuts of Meat,”
as David Letterman would say!


For late-night TV it’s a funny bit - But there’s nothing funny about having your friends or family over and you think you’re serving a nice juicy tender steak only to find out it’s a bottom or eye round. These cuts would be better suited as a slow cooked pot roast, stew or chili. I’m sure this scenario has played out for just about everyone who has a freezer full of wild game meat. The unfortunate result is your guests have just struggled through a tough and dry piece of game meat and will base their opinion on this experience. Because they have so much respect for you and your culinary wisdom they would never hold you accountable and the burden inevitably falls to the poor animal. I can’t tell you how man times I’ve heard, “I love elk but I don’t eat antelope or deer or duck.” I think mishandled or in this case misidentified meat plays a big roll in creating negative opinions of wild game meat.
Knowing the muscle groups of a game animal will eliminate these pitfalls. Our WildEats
Hunters Meat Map identifies all the muscle groups in the anatomy of a big game animal and what are the best cooking techniques for each cut.

new hunters meat map poster 8.5x112006


A key cooking rule when dealing with wild game meat - the tender cuts need to be cooked as quickly as possible and the tough cuts benefit from very slow moist cooking techniques such as braising.
aged game meat poster done 06

The leg of a large game animal is made up of seven muscles-
Tender Cuts
Top Round
Top Sirloin
Sirloin Butt
Tougher Cuts
Eye Round
Bottom Round
Heel
Shank (not shown)

(Insert Skeletal Breakdown)
big game skeletal chart border
Knowing your way around the anatomy of a big game animal gives you the confidence to correctly identify all those tasty morsels. This is very similar to studying a Topo map and finding those far off northern slopes that hold seldom seen trophies. Be sure and show off your latest trophy on your dining room table this weekend.













A walk down memory lane...Elk Wiener Schnitzels

A walk down memory lane...Elk Wiener Schnitzels

elk wiener schnitzels 2

The genesis of WildEats is from a New York suburb in Rockland County on the west shores of the Hudson River. I was a very ambitious young man and quickly figured out life’s bells and whistles would only be possible through hard work. I was able to make this happen by working at local restaurants at a very young age. Gunter Pindzig owned a German restaurant in town and recruited me to join his team. I spent the next 5 years working under his detail-oriented eye.

We produced many classic German dishes, which were all produced fresh daily. We prided ourselves on our quality meats that were delivered from NYC that we fabricated in house.
Being the competitive person that I am I always approached my tasks as a challenge. I worked side by side with Gunter breaking down these pieces of culinary potential. By the time I was seventeen I could break down a leg of veal faster than my chef.

I've taken this skill into the field ever since. For this I am indebted to Chef Gunter for his guidance, patience and shared passion to produce a superior product regardless of the required effort. This dish is a tribute to him. I promise to continue this passion and "Pass it Forward."

Elk Wiener Schnitzel a la Bavarian Gardens with Lemon Caraway Aioli

10 - 3 to 4 oz. elk medallions* top round, top sirloin, tenderloin or backstrap, silver skin removed, cut across the grain
standard breading procedurepounding elk medallions
Standard breading procedure
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup flour
2 cups dried breadcrumbs

peanut, canola or rice bran** oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste or your favorite dry rub like the WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Dry Rub

Set up your breading procedure in appropriate mixing bowls, one for the flour, one of the egg whites and one for the breadcrumbs. I like to use just the egg whites for breading. The whites are 100% protein and give you a very crisp breading. The yolks can be saved for a dipping aioli.
Gently pound the medallions of elk to about 1/4 inch thick. Season and dredge in the flour, then the egg whites and then the breadcrumbs. Place on a platter and refrigerate for at least an hour. This chills the meat down so when you fry it, it doesn't get over cooked.

When you're ready to fry the schnitzels pre heat the oil in a pan to about 375° F. Place the schnitzels in the hot oil and cook to golden brown, turn and finish the other side. Remove the meat to a paper-lined tray until all the schnitzels are finished. Serve with country potatoes or spaetzle and this refreshing lemon aioli with toasted caraway.

Lemon Caraway Aioli
3 egg yolks (room temperature)
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tsp fresh garlic
1/2 tsp lightly toasted caraway seeds, ground fine
4 green onions, chopped fine
16 oz olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
juice of one lemon
splash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients except the oil and lemon juice in the mixing bowl of a food processor. With the motor running slowly pour the oil into the processor. The sauce will begin to emulsify. Continue to add the oil until it is finished. Squeeze in the lemon juice, making sure to catch the seeds. Adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is too thick you can add a few drops of water. This type of sauce will store for several weeks in the refrigerator and can be used on everything from sandwiches to grilled fish.
Be sure and allow the egg yolks to get to room temperature before making this sauce. This ensures a strong emulsion.

I was going through my knife draw the other day and found the old Wusthof German steel knife I used to beat my chef at our little competitions... Do me a favor; if you ever run into Chef Gunter, you might not want to bring this up.

Prost!


* Medallions refer to a round cut of meat that is appr. 1/2 inch thick and 2-3 inches in diameter

** Rice bran oil is the oil extracted from the husks of rice grains. It has a very high smoking point, no flavor and no cholesterol. It's relatively new in this country but has been a staple in Japan for a long time because of its purity and nutritional advantages.

ELK POT PIES rich, hearty & nutritious ELK POT PIES rich, hearty & nutritious

ELK POT PIES
rich, hearty & nutritious

It'll tickle your nose with a sledgehammer.

close up Elk Pot Pies


As the autumnal air starts to chill in the high country old black iron caldrons are pulled from their summer storage with a reminder of the comfort it'll soon produce. There's nothing that warms the soul like the seductive aroma from your kitchen while slowly braising little cubes of nature’s goodness infused with fresh seasonal vegetables, rich stock/broth, wine reduction, aromatics and a splash of bourbon. Then add the baking of buttery puff pastry atop the above-mentioned savory goodness and you have a very seductive combination that will surely warm your soul.
blanquettesearing elk cubes for blanquette
ELK Blanquette with roasted autumn mushrooms
yield app. 1/2 gallon of finished product

2 1/2 - 3 lbs diced elk shoulder, bottom or eye round, silver skin/tendons removed, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp WildEats Lemon Garlic & Sage Rub (optional)
1cup flour - for dusting
3 tbsp bacon fat or cooking oil

1 cup good quality white wine
1 qt beef stock or broth
3 cups diced celery
3 cups diced leeks (or onions)
2 tbsp fresh garlic
2 bay leaves

2 lbs roasted (crimini, shiitake, morel, chanterelle, portabella or porcini mushrooms) tossed with s&p, garlic & olive oil) roasted @ 325°F for 20-30 minutes

zest of a lemon
1/2 cup good quality bourbon
1 cup sour cream
elk pot pies
puff pastry
egg wash (1 egg yolk, 2 oz. water a pinch of salt and sugar, mixed well)

Garnish Options
seasonal vegetables, garden herbs

Procedure: Lightly dust the elk cubes with the rub, salt, pepper and flour. Heat up the bacon fat (or oil) in a sauté pan. Quickly sear the meat until blond (try not to brown the meat as this will have an effect of the color of the final product). Remember we are looking for a white sauce. Do this in small batches. When the meat is seared remove to a crock-pot or heavy gauge saucepot. Continue until all the meat is seared. Deglaze the sauté pan with the wine, simmer until reduced to just about dry. Scrape the residue from the pan into the crock pot with the meat. Add the stock and vegetables. Bring to a simmer and slowly cook until almost tender (app. 2 hours in a pot or for as much as 5-6 hours in a slow crock-pot.

On the side toss the crimini mushrooms with salt, pepper & garlic and lay them on a sheet pan and place into a 325° F for about 20-30minutes. This evaporates the moisture of the mushrooms and intensifies their flavor. Hold until the meat is almost done.

When the meat is almost tender add the roasted mushroom, sour cream, bourbon and lemon zest. Stir well and bring back to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning. Each of these last ingredients gives you a specific property to the final flavor.

At this point you can eat this Blanquette as is but as we often do at WildEats I like to take it to the next level. Cool the Blanquette and place it into ramekins, garnished with your favorite seasonal vegetables and herbs. Cut the puff pastry into circles large enough to cover the ramekins. Brush the egg wash around the edge and place the puff pastry over the top. Stretch the pastry over the edges and press the dough around the edge of the ramekins. Eggwash the top of the pastry. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and into a 365°F oven. Bake until golden brown, app. 30 - 45 minutes. Remove and serve....

The aromas that come with this, with hit you like a September vibrating bugle on a dark, crisp morning high on a hanging basin in the Rockies.

Sierra Nevada Braised Elk Rouladen with onion jam

Sierra Nevada Braised Elk Rouladen

elk rouladen verticalwith onion jam

As I write this article, it's the end of September and I am preparing some elk rouladen for my upcoming hunting trips. This hearty old school dish is a perfect camp food for those long, sometimes chilly, wet days to come. They're filled with richness and nutrition that'll get you over "that next ridge." For those frequenters of Carnivore's Kitchen, you'll know this is a typical dish of "love" that derived from Grandma's comfort food and as was always the case - a little labor involved but so worth the effort. It's also a terrific way of utilizing those remaining pieces of bottom and eye rounds that are usually the last to leave your frozen cache.

The general rule of thumb about cooking the tougher cuts of meat is the slower the better. This is very important with the lean cuts of wild game meats because they don't have the additional internal fat to keep them moist. Slower cooking will also reduce shrinkage and produce a greater yield of your hard earned harvests.

Sierra Nevada Braised Elk Rouladen


Elk Rouladen Meat filling
meat - 2 lb ground elk meat, drained of blood
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork

veggies- 1/2 cup of each of the following - onions, carrots, cabbage, celery, finely diced and sautéed in a little olive oil - cool
2 tbsp fresh garlic
1 cup chopped pickles
4 tbsp Juniperberry & Peppercorn Steak Rub or chopped juniper berries
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs
3 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp kosher or sea salt

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and hold in the refrigerator until needed.
(Insert picture of filling in bowl)
meat ready to be poundedmustard bushed elk meat wrappers
Elk Meat Wrappers
12 - 5-6 oz pieces of bottom or eye round butterfly cut (insert picture)
1/2 cup of your favorite mustard
flour for dusting
butchers twine
oil for browning

Lay the meat on a cutting board and cover with food wrap. Using a mallet gently pound the meat until just under a 1/4 of an inch thick. Try and keep the pieces uniform.
Once all the meat in pounded brush each piece with some mustard. Get the meat filling and place about 1/2 cup of the filling in the center of the meat flaps. Roll each of the meat flaps around the filling. You want to form a cylinder. Finish the rest of the pieces of meat. Once your done with stuffing/rolling take a piece of butchers twine and secure each roll. (see the picture)

Per heat a large heavy gauge braising pot with some oil. Lightly dust each rouladen with salt, pepper and flour. Brown each piece until they are all golden brown, hold on the side. In the same pan sauté the following until browned -

Braising Sauce
1 cup of onions, carrots, celery (mire poix)
2 tbsp fresh garlic

To this add-
3 Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or your own favorite brew
1 small can of tomato paste
1 qt of beef or game stock (or bouillon)
2 bay leaves
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary

Bring this to boil, add the browned elk rouladens. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and gently cook until the rouladens are tender to the touch (2 1/2 - 3 hours).



Remove the meat when tender. Continue to slowly reduce the sauce by half to concentrate the flavors, cleaning the scum that forms on top. Strain the sauce adjust the seasoning and serve with the rouladens Or cover the rouladens, cool and freeze to serve at a later time......like when your at elk camp!

These tough cuts of meat usually don't get the same respect than their loin or sirloin cousins... but to me, they're even more important because it is they who energize me to refill next years cache. Hope you were able to use these cuts last fall to help refill yours.
little bundles of goodnessslow braised until very tender
This dish really doesn't need any more flavor but just for fun here's a great recipe to compliment these rouladens.

Dried Cherry & Onion Jam
1 large yellow onion small dice
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tbsp fresh garlic
pinch ground allspice or clove
1 cup good quality zinfandel wine
Salt & pepper to taste

Place the ingredients in a saucepan, cover and slowly simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Adjust with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold and stores very well for weeks in the refrigerator.


Ginger infused Elk Wontons

Ginger infused Elk Wontons
a simple addition to brighten up your hors d oeuvres selections

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We as hunters (and gatherers) have a very unique sensation that is not part of the mainstream consumer
mindset. The feeling of fulfillment when one is successful in supplying nutrition to ones family and friends (or villages who rely on your skill set as a hunter) is hard to describe and has VERY deep seeded social significant. Pride, confidence and admiration are some of the bi-products of a successful hunt.

Serving a menagerie of flavors, texture, ethnic styles and unique presentations, especially using wild game meats, is a sure way of obtaining "status" by your peers.

Although somewhat time consuming, preparing hors d 'oeuvres or "small plates" is a great way to show off your freezer full of success.

Ginger infused Elk Won Tons with Roasted Jalapeno Syrup
makes 35-40 won tons

Won Ton filling:
1 lbs ground elk meat (drained in a colander overnight to remove excess blood)
2 egg whites
1/4 inch length grated fresh ginger*
1 tsp minced garlic
1-bunch scallion whites (preserve greens for dipping sauce)
1 tbsp sesame seeds,
toasted
1/2 bunch cilantro, sliced thin
2 tbsp low sodium soy
pinch ground white pepper
1 tbsp corn starch

1 pack of won ton wrappers
1 egg white with a splash of cold water
oil for frying
kosher salt

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Mix all the ingredients for the won ton filling. Lay out the won ton skins 8-10 at a time. Take the egg whites and water and whisk briskly. Brush the egg whites on the border of the wrappers. Place a tbsp of the filling in the center of the wrappers and fold to seal along the edges. Take the two left/right edges and fold them to join each other, forming what looks like a "Popes" hat. Lay the finished won tons on a paper towel lined sheet pan until all are finished. Cover with a dry towel to prevent the won tons from drying out.

To Cook: Heat the frying oil to 330 F° - fry 6 won tons at a time, until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined pan. Repeat until all the won tons are fried. Served with the dipping sauce below or your favorite Asian style sauce.

Roasted Jalapeno Dipping Syrup

6 fire roasted jalapenos (blistered over an open fire, skin and seeds removed) cut into very small dice (1/8x1/8x1/8)

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon peel from 2 lemons
lemon juice from 2 lemons
1/2 inch length fresh ginger peeled and grated
1 tbsp fresh garlic
salt to taste

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped fine

Place the sugar, water, lemon juice, peel, garlic and ginger in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, add the finely diced jalapenos and simmer for another 30 minutes on low. Add the salt to taste. Remove from the fire and allow the syrup to cool. Add the chopped cilantro when the syrup has cooled. This type of sauce can be stored for weeks in the refrigerator.


The impressive photos of the finished product can be somewhat intimidating. This is a very simple dish to put together. You don't have to share its simplicity with your guests. Add some color and fresh related products to accent your platters. They WILL be impressed by your efforts.


* WildEats Tip of the Month - store ginger in the freezer. When you need to add ginger to a recipe take the frozen ginger and simply grate the ginger with a grater or microplain. This eliminates the stringy fibers that can sometimes be a hassle when dealing with fresh ginger.

ELK SOPADILLAS - "The New Western S.O.S."

ELK SOPADILLAS - "The New Western S.O.S."

elk sopadillaselk sopadilla front
We've been loading up culinary vessels since the beginning of time -crouton/crackers, toasted bread, puff pastry, phyllo, lavash, et al. Every nationality has their own versions. Central America utilizes their abundant corn crop by producing Masa (lime treated corn) Harina (flour) that can be turned into a dough. This dough gets formed in a 1/4 thick patty. It then gets seared in a dry hot skillet. Once both sides are lightly seared remove from the pan and pinch a slight border around its edges, the shape of the patty can vary, (round, triangular, square). Allow this to cool. When you're ready to serve heat a pan with cooking oil and fry these sopadilla’s until they are golden brown. Now they're ready to be filled with just about any cooked meat. Below is one that will certainly be added to your Elk Meat repertoire for years to come.

Sopadilla Dough

3 cups masa harina
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground toasted cumin seeds
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all the ingredients well, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the frig. or at least an hour. The dough should be the consistency of "play dough." P
repare the sopadilla as described above.

Slow Cooked Elk "Piccadillo"

3 lbs diced elk, bottom round, shank, shoulder or neck meat
1/2 pure olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the seasoned meat in a hot sauté pan small batches. When the meat is browned place into a crock-pot. Continue until all the meat is browned.

2 cups good quality Zinfandel, Cabernet or Syrah
1 12 oz, can V8
2 tsp ground toasted fennel seeds

Add the liquid and spice to the meat, stir, cover the cock pot and cook on low for about 4 hours.
fire charred veggies
Veggie garnish
3 medium onions, cut into small dice
1 bunch celery cut similar
3 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 bouquet garni - a couple of bay leaves, stalks of rosemary, sage and parsley, tied with a string

After 4 hours add the veggie garnish to the meat in the crock-pot. Stir and continue to cook for another 2 hours or until the meat is tender. At first it may seem like you need more liquid...but the fresh diced veggies will supply that as they cook down.

Adjust the seasoning of the Piccadillo and hold until ready to serve. A dish like this actually tastes better the second day. If you have time try and prepare this a day or to before you actually want to serve it. In doing so you allow all the complex flavors to mature together.

Fire Charred Corn Salsa
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 red bell pepper
1-2 jalapeno peppers
1 med. red onion, cut into 3/4 inch think slices

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
Place all the whole vegetables over an open fire, (grill, stove top, fire pit) and char until cooked - the corn and onion will have a browned surface, the peppers will blister. Once all the surfaces are finished place everything into a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. While that is resting heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the garlic and stir until the garlic is golden brown. Remove from the heat and hold.

Now, peel and deseed the peppers, cut the peppers and onion into very small dice. Cut the corn from the cob and add to the other vegetables in a mixing bowl. Pour the garlic and oil into the vegetable mix Squeeze the lime into this mixture. Season with salt and pepper. You can garnish this salsa with fresh basil or cilantro or use the WildEats Garden Pesto.

WildEats Garden Pesto
yields 3 cups of pesto

2 bunches of fresh basil, removed from the stems and cut into fine slices
1 bunch fresh cilantro - washed and cut thin
1 tbsp red chili flakes
1/2 inch of freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp fresh garlic
zest of 1 navel oranges
2 cups virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt

In small batches process all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Mix all the blended pesto in a large bowl to make final seasoning adjustments.

The blending of basil, cilantro, chilies, ginger, citrus and garlic creates an intensely refreshing flavor profile that will accompany any spiced dish.

This pesto can be stored in the freezer indefinitely. Turning freshly grow crops into pesto is a great way to extend their usage throughout the colder winter months.


There are quite a few components to this dish, but all of them can be prepared ahead. Cooking is just like painting, 90 % prep, 10 % execution.

Like my Mom always said, "it's not the effort that counts... its the results."
Thanks Mom, you were right.

Venison STEAK Soup

Venison Steak Soup

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Venison Steak Soup
A Lesson in Nutritional Utilization


Back in the days of stagecoach travel at various locations along the travel plan Inn keepers that supplied a change of horses would also have a kettle brewing over the fire to give the travelers a much needed dose of nutrition. This was referred to as a restorative, which is the French derivative for the term "Restaurant." So one could say soups were the first dish served at restaurants.

There is tremendous nutritional value in a stock or broth made from proteins. The level of protein in our wild game is significantly higher than domestically reared animals. We should take advantage of this bi-product that we have in our freezers.

The difference between a stock and a broth is, stocks are made with bones, and broth from meat. Both extract the protein and flavors from those properties and although they do take a little time, but the majority of that time is simply spent slowly simmering: very much worth the minimal amount of effort.


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Venison STEAK Soup
Makes app. 6 qts of soup, which freezes very well...perfect for packing to deer camp!

2 lbs, venison steaks, cut from the bottom round, eye round, top round or top sirloin, trimmed of all silver skin, fat and sinew
1 1/2 - 2 gallons of venison or beef stock or broth (recipe below)
1 12 oz. can of tomato sauce or V8
3 lg carrots, diced
1/2 bunch celery, diced
2 med onions, diced
3 med potatoes, peeled, diced
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
bay leaves, parsley, thyme and rosemary* fresh if possible


Optional garnishes - turnips, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, corn, peas, pasta or rice etc.

Season the steaks and quickly sear them on a high heat grill or grill pan. After they're seared lay them out on a sheet pan (not stacked) and allow them to rest before cutting them into a medium dice. You can also use the leftover steaks from yesterday's bbq. Meanwhile heat the broth to a simmer. Add the diced steak meat and once again bring to a slow simmer. Cook this for about 90 minutes, cleaning the scum that forms on top. Then add all the vegetable and herb garnish, except the potatoes. Simmer for 45 minutes, then add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are just tender to the bite. Season with Worcestershire, salt and black pepper to taste and garnish with additional fresh herbs.

The amount of flavor you get from growing your own fresh herbs is amazing and like making your own stock/broth well worth the effort. You'll get the same feeling as when you pull your hard earned meat harvests out and serve it to your friends and family.




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Wild Game Broth

3-4 lbs neck or shank meat, these cuts have a highest concentration of protein
6 -8 qts. cold water
2 lbs. onions, celery, carrots - classically referred to as -
mire poix
(50% onions, 25 % celery, 25% carrots)4-6 oz. tomato product (like diced tomato) 2 Bay leaves
1 bunch parsley stems, (save the leaves to garnish your soup)
1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
1 tbsp dried thyme or ½ bunch fresh thyme
1 bulb fresh garlic chopped rough
Cut the meat in strips. Place in a stock pot with the cold water. Slowly bring to a simmer. Skim the scum that forms on the top of the water, try to keep the broth as clean as possible throughout the cooking process. Impurities cloud the flavor of your broth. A true chef prides him/herself on how clear their stocks/broths are. After the broth has simmered for about 1 hour, add the mire poix and herbs Continue to simmer for an additional 2-3 hours. Strain through the finest strainer you have and cool as fast as possible, this will ensure a long shelf life (or freezer life). This technique is used for all stocks/broths.

Whether you’re traveling via stagecoach, in deer camp or sick in bed. This soup could very well replace the famous chicken soup as a way of invigorating your body and soul.

Cold Weather HEAT - Green Chili spiced Elk Stew

Cold Weather Heat

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This time of year, there’s nothing better than the crackle of a warm fire teamed with the smells of a pot of slowly simmering cubes of elk cloaked in a fragrant, rich sauce. The combination of flavors you can use is endless. For me, I love teaming the full flavors of elk with the sweetness of bell pepper and onions with the tamed heat of green chilies (Serrano or Jalapeno's, roasted or fried, seeds removed) more on that in a second.

Green Chili spiced Elk Stew

2 lbs. diced elk (or venison) shoulder, silver skin removed
flour for dusting
2 oz. olive oil

2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 large yellow onion sliced thin
1 large bell pepper, sliced thin
2 cups raw garbanzo beans, that have been picked through for stones and soaked in cold water over night. (you can use any

2 jalapenos (or Serrano), fried in oil to blister the skins, seeds removed. Cut into very small dice or strips

Raw green chilies have a very sharp, biting heat, especially when the seeds are left in the chilies. By caramelizing these chilies, either by roasting in a hot oven or frying in oil really gives them a very different flavor profile. Once the skins are blistered they get peeled, cut in half and the seeds scraped out.
You're now left with just the chili flesh. Roasted chilies prepared this way have an almost sweet spice and can be used wherever you want a mild hit of heat. I always have a container at the ready in my kitchen.

1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground fine
1 tsp toasted coriander seeds, ground fine
2 bay leaves

Whole spices also benefit from a caramelization process. Whole seeds retain much more flavor than do the pre-ground versions, which lose much of their flavor while sitting on the shelf at the supermarket. To toast simply take a dry sauté pan over medium heat and slowly shake these whole seeds until they get to a golden brown color. You can also place the spices on a sheet pan and toast them in a 350° F oven for about ten minutes. Once toasted let them cool down a little before grinding in a spice or coffee grinder. You will immediately notice an unbelievable fragrance in your kitchen! Once you do this it will become your "go to" secret weapon.

2 qts. beef or game broth/stock
3-4 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup good quality red wine
salt and pepper to taste

optional garnish
chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, fresh basil, even fresh mint works with this dish



Procedure:
Lightly season the diced meat with salt and pepper (or your own favorite dry rub) and dust with the flour. Heat the olive oil in a heavy gauge saute pan. Brown the meat in small batches. Once browned remove to a crock pot of braising pot. After the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with the red wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to collect any caramelized meat particles (not if they are burnt), ad to the pot with the meat. Add the stock/broth, garbanzo beans, tomato paste and toasted spices and bay leave. Bring this to a slow simmer, cleaning any scum/fat/oil that forms on top. Continue to braise for about 1 1/2 hours (uncovered).

Add the bell peppers, onions and green chilies, mix well and continue to cook for another 30 minutes or so or until the meat is fork tender.

As with any braised dish - it will actually be better the next day. With so many different flavor nuances, resting overnight allows them all to mature together.

I 've mentioned many times in Carnivores Kitchen that the majority of my hunting meals are braised dishes. Superior nutrition, great hearty flavor and most importantly, easy to reheat back at camp which keeps me out in the field longer!

"Stay connected with your food"

Juniperberry Rubbed Desert Bighorn Sheep Loins

WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rubbed Desert Bighorn Loin
Onion, Fig and Green Chili Chutney

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Juniperberry Rubbed Bighorn Backstraps
1 - 2 lbs strip of boneless Bighorn Loin (or any other big game animal, properly dry aged at least 2 weeks)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
3-4 tbsp Wildeats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Steak RUB
Kosher or Sea Salt to taste

Trim all the silver skin from the loins. Brush the loins with the olive oil, rub the meat with the garlic, then dust and rub the meat with the dry rub. For the best results place in a zip lock bag overnight. This allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat.

My two favorite ways to cook tender cuts of meat like this is either over a very hot grill OR quick seared in a black iron skillet. Leans cuts of meat like this needs to be quickly seared and cooked evenly on all sides until its rare (125° F internal temperature). Always allow your meat to rest. This redistributes the moisture throughout the meat and lets carryover-cooking finish the meat to a juicy medium rare.

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Red Onion, Fig and Green Chili Chutney
1 lg. red onion, small dice
18 dried figs, quartered
1-cup red wine, zinfandel, cabernet or syrah
Juice and zest of 2 Myers lemon (or 1 lemon, 1 orange)
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp finely minced fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
4 tbsp honey
4 Serrano or jalapeno chilies, seeds removed, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Salt to taste

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Place all ingredients in a stainless steel pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and slowly simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching. Adjust the seasonings with salt and additional lemon juice to suite your personal taste. Severe warm. This chutney will store for weeks under refrigeration.
The mild sweet, acidic and lightly spicy nature of this combination is a perfect accompaniment for the surprisingly delicate flavor of the Desert Bighorn Sheep.
Happy Hunting...and enjoy ALL the benefits that come with a successful harvest
Chef John McGannon
WildEats Enterprises

Elk & Spinach Canneloni

Being a transplanted east coaster, who grew up in Italian neighborhoods I cherish the memories of preparing large amounts of labor intensive dishes like lasagna, homemade sausage, butchering a whitetail deer or the end of the year harvest - tomato sauce. These gatherings would be a celebration of life and often involved many contributors. This was a time for nurturing community and utilizing the old adage, "together everyone achieves more." I miss those days.... perhaps a little more of this type of civic event and a little less "occupation protesting" and we'd all be better off.

Large quantities of “Cannelloni” are just such a dish - a little labor intensive but the perfect excuse to gather your friend and family for some culinary community building. Once assembled cannelloni are perfect for freezing and using at a later time, and a little goes a long way.

elk canneloni scott


Elk and Spinach Cannelloni
yields about 30 - 5 inch cannelloni

meat component
4 lbs ground elk or other wild game meat (once defrosted, placed in a colander overnight to drain the excess capillary blood)
1 med yellow onion, small dice
4 celery stalks, small dice
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

To cook: Heat a large saute pan with some of the olive oil. Season the ground meat with salt and pepper and place a thin layer of the meat in the pan. Allow the meat to sit in the hot pan until its browned on the underside. Stir to brown the remaining meat. Add the garlic, celery and onions and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the pan to cool and repeat until al the meat is finished. Cool down as quickly as possible.
hold

spinach component
1 - 3 lb bag fresh spinach - sautéed, cooled, drained and rough chopped
1/2-cup olive oil,
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic

Sauté the spinach in the olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cool immediately after cooking -
hold

binding component
4 lbs ricotta cheese
2 cups dried breadcrumbs
1 cup Regianno or Grana Padano Parmesan
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Fresh or frozen uncooked lasagna pasta sheets (10x8 inch) available in Restaurant or Gourmet markets
(you can use dried sheets, but those need to be par-cooked before assembly)

optional sauces
Marinara Sauce, homemade or store bought
Basil pesto (optional)
Bechamel sauce (optional)

Once the meat and spinach are cooled place them into a large mixing bowl. To that add all the ingredients in the binding component. Mix well, adjust the seasoning.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

To Assemble:
Lay out the pasta dough sheets on a clean table with the long edge going left to right. Cut the dough sheet in the middle - (
red line).
Take a large gallon ziplock bag and fill it halfway with the meat mixture. Close the bag and cut a 1 inch diagonal in one of the corners. Pipe the mixture along the bottom of the dough sheet about one inch thick along the red line (
brown section). Roll the mixture in the pasta dough to form a cylinder. Then cut the cylinders into five-inch lengths (blue line) . Continue until the entire filling is finished. Lay the uncooked cannelloni on sheet pans and place into the freezer OR place a think layer or marinara on the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange the cannelloni on top, leaving a little room in between each piece. Cover each cannelloni with a little more tomato sauce. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place into a preheated 350°F oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. You can garnish this dish with bechamel sauce, pesto, grated cheese, your favorite fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts or whatever your favorite addition might be.

The important thing is a dish like this not only is a great way to utilize your wild game meat but its an even better excuse to get together with the ones you love. ENJOY!


Chef John McGannon
WildEats.com






Venison POT STICKERS with a Pomegranate & Ginger dipping sauce


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We all struggle to come up with easy creative ideas on how to expand our wild game culinary repertoire. If you go through the cuisines of the world we can all pick out items that we enjoy. One of my favorite ways to eat is what the Spaniards call "Tapas" and the Chinese "Dim Sum" or
Little Plates. Its a great way to experience as many flavors and combinations as possible for a food consumption gathering. One of my favorite "little foods" is the dumpling. They can be anything from potato based to ground meat or vegetables. Dumplings come in many shapes and sizes and are utilized in most cuisines around the globe. They are also a great way to utilize a vast variety of fillings. POT STICKER'S are as simple as you can get, easy to make, easy to cook and again the fillings are as endless as your imagination. The wrappers are a simple flour dough cut into rounds and you can find them in Asian Markets in the frozen food sections, along with won ton, egg roll and spring roll wrappers. I recommend having all of these in your freezer. Cooking pot stickers are unique as they start out being boiled in water and then as the water evaporates the bottoms fry and become crispy. If done properly they will not stick on the bottoms.
These tasty little dumplings can be made ahead and kept frozen until needed.
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(1) Potstickers laid out on cornstarch dusted sheet pans
(2) Browning the potstickers in the pan before the water


Venison Pot Stickers with cabbage and leeks
makes app. 36 pot stickers
1 lb. ground venison
1 pack pot sicker dough
3 eggs, 1 for egg wash, 2 for filling
2 tbsp cornstarch

Veggie garnish
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup leeks - finely chopped (you can also use onions, scallions or Chinese chives)
1 cup green or Napa cabbage, finely chopped
4 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground red chili flakes
Kosher salt to taste

Procedures:Heat the oils in a sauté pan. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Then add the leeks, cabbage and seasonings. Stir-fry until wilted then set aside to cool. Place the meat, 2 eggs and cornstarch into a mixing bowl. Blend in the cooled cabbage and leeks. Mix vigorously until smooth. Adjust the seasoning. Take a small sample of the filling and cook it in a pan to confirm the seasonings.Once you have the filling just the way you want lay out 10 or 12 dough wraps at a time. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water to use as the egg wash. Brush the wrappers with the egg wash. Place a small amount of filling in each wrapper. Fold over and secure the edges. Place the pot sticker with the edges upward on a cornstarch dusted sheet pan. Continue until all the dumplings are finished.When ready to cook. Heat a large sauté pan with some chili and sesame oil.

Arrange the pot stickers in the pan. Cover the dumplings half way with water. Cover the pan and cook over high heat. The water will evaporate and the dumplings are done when the bottoms are crispy and golden brown.Serve with this creative dipping sauce;

Pomegranate & Ginger Ponzu
1/2 c low sodium soy
1/2 c pomegranate juice
A couple of lemon slices
Pinch of fresh garlic
2 thin slices of fresh ginger

optional additions to taste- jalapeno slices, scallions, sesame seeds, cilantro
Mix all ingredients, for best results let sit over night for flavors to develop. this is a nice balanced dipping sauce that is accented by the tart nature of pomegranate, perfect for the rich little bites of these pot stickers. Feel free to add your own little touches to this base recipe. The filling can also be used to make meat balls or to stuff into any number of veggies or as a meatloaf Asian style. The nature of ginger and chilies match up terrifically with rich game meats. Enjoy! The extra effort in making these will be very much worth the while

Venison Burger's the Monarch of the Backyard BBQ


We American's LOVE our burgers and those of us who travel near and far to collect our own protein know there's only one real choice when it comes to those back yard festivals. In today's markets is all about organic, free range and natural. Well, we've known about that for many years. The nutritional advantages from wild game are substantial so lets try and keep it that way.
There's no need to add everything from bread crumbs, eggs, beef or pork meat and fat to your ground wild game meat. There is a simple solution that will allow your natural, lean and healthy elk burgers to remain just that.
The issue with freshly ground wild game meat is it’s usually processed when it’s fresh and not had the chance to properly dry age. F
resh wild game is saturated with large amounts of capillary blood, which we've discussed in the past. Dry aging allows this excessive amount of blood to drain. Unlike whole cuts of muscles - ground meat doesn't need a lengthy aging process because the grinding of the meat breaks down the highly developed fiber structure - now all we have to deal with is the large quantity of capillary blood. This very simple "understanding" is all you need to do to get your coveted deer (or any other ground wild game meats) to the elevated status that it deserves.

Here's how you get there
- Remove your frozen ground venison packs from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator - the slower the defrosting process, the better. It should take a couple of days to totally thaw. Once the meat is thawed, remove it from the package and place it in a large colander or strainer. Place the meat in the colander and place the colander in a bowl. Now cover this with cellophane and return it to the refrigerator overnight.
The amount of blood that drains to the bottom container will surprise you. It's the blood that gives wild game meat its "gamey" flavor. It is also responsible for soggy burgers that won't hold together, and also produces that lovely grey color when you overcook your burgers. The meat will go from a very dark, almost purple color to the color of young beef or veal.
The full flavor yet non-aggressive quality will come shining through. Ground meat that is handled this way will cook a little quicker than what you may be used to. Lean wild game burgers need to be treated just like those tender cuts that are used for game steaks - cooked very quickly, over very high heat. Remember, we don't have the excess fat to keep those burgers moist (like you do with the fat saturated beef burgers) so we just adjust our cooking technique to cook them very quickly, which preserves the natural moisture in the lean meat.
Using this technique to remove the blood from all your ground meats will greatly benefit your all your wild game burgers as well as, meatloaves, chili, meatballs and any other use for ground wild game including sausages and salami. And, it can be accomplished overnight!
You and your dinner guests will be amazed at the results!
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This is NOT a couple of shots of Jagermeister - it's the capillary blood that has drained out of just 6 venison burgers.


Here's a great alternative to ketchup for your next backyard feast!


Roasted Jalapeno Marmalade

12 jalapeno chilies
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds ground fine
juice and zest of 6 limes, appr. 1/2 cup
1 1/2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp corn starch
1 oz. vodka

Char the chilies over n open flame until blistered. Remove the chilies to a paper bag for about ten minutes. Remove the chilies from the bag and peel the blistered skins. Cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut into very small cubes. Hold on the side. Place the water and sugar in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. Add the garlic, cumin, chilies and lime juice. Simmer for about fifteen minutes. In a cup mix the cornstarch and vodka until smooth. Stir this into the chili syrup. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the lime zest and adjust the seasonings with salt. If you'd like the jelly to be spicier you can leave in some of the chili seeds. This jelly will stay for several weeks in the refrigerator. You can add this to anything that you want to add a little spice with a hint of sweetness.

jalapeno burger2burger dust 3 oz lr

The only thing your wild game burgers need now is some WildEats Burger Dust before you slap them on the grill. Caution! You may need to have some extra as the neighbors will surely be poking their heads over the fence to see what all those seductive aromas are!




"ELK PIROGUES" Little Dumplings from Eastern Europe, with a Rocky Mountain Twist

Elk & Potato Pirogues
"A Classic Eastern European Dish with a Slant from the Rockies"

Pirogues are little dumplings that are filled with a wide variety of fillings. They can be savory or sweet. The origin of these laborious creations undoubtedly came from extending food sources to feed the masses. When the meat supplies were getting low this was a great way to reuse leftovers or feed everyone with a little meat. Generally, savory pirogues are filled with potatoes and then any garnish you had available. The WildEats approach is to slowly braise small cubes of elk with, onions, garlic, pilsner beer, tomato juice with a dusting of our Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub. Team that with smashed red potatoes, scallions, ranch dressing (instead of sour cream) and shredded jack cheese all wrapped in a delicate flour wrapper and you have a hearty, nutritious, wholesome and filling meat dumpling.
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Pirogue dough (makes app. 55 - 3 inch pirogues)
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp melted butter
2 cups sour cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 oz olive oil

egg wash for rolled out dough circle (2 egg yolks, 2 oz water, pinch sugar, pinch salt, beat well)

Mix all dry ingredients and form a well in the middle, add the wet ingredients and mix until the dough is smooth. Place this dough in the refrigerator over night. This allows the proteins in the flour to relax which yields a tender, delicate dough. When ready to prepare, roll the dough out to about 1/8 of an inch, cut with a 3 inch circle cutter.

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Elk Pirogue Filling (enough for 55 pirogues, plus 3 qts of stew)
4 lbs elk bottom round, cut into 1 inch cubes
5-6 tbsp WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub
1 cup flour
salt to taste
vegetable oil, for browning

2 med yellow onions
3 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 bottles of Pilsner beer
1 can V8 tomato juice
1 sprigs fresh rosemary

Season the meat with the rub and salt, mix well. Dust the meat with the flour. Heat the oil in a heavy gauge pan. Brown the meat on all sides. When browned remove the meat to a crock pot* or heavy braising pot. Repeat until all the meat is done. Deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping the bottom to remove the residue. Add this liquid to the meat along with the remaining ingredients. Bring this up to a simmer, stirring well. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until the meat is tender. (2-3 hours). Adjust the seasoning and allow to cool.

Red Potato Filling

app. 12 red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
cold water
salt

Bring the water to a simmer, turn down to low and cook until just tender. Remove immediately, strain and allow to cool. * Never leave cooked potatoes in the water they're cooked in. It will give you a very heavy, starchy potato.

Remaining ingredients for filling

1 cup Ranch dressing (traditionally done with sour cream. The Ranch gives a bit of a tangy flavor, which helps with the rich nature of this dish)
1 bunch green onions chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded jack cheese (or use your own personal favorite)


Blend this with the red potatoes and mash until smooth. This is now ready to be scooped into the rolled out dough circle.

Lay the dough circle out, brush with the egg wash. Place a small scoop of the potato filling (app. 1 1/2 tbsp), and then take 1 or 2 of the elk cubes and place in the center of the potatoes. Fold the dough in half closing the fillings in the center. You can use a fork to scrimp the edges. Continue until all your pirogues are filled.
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To Cook:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a couple of the pirogues in at a time. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until they rise to the op of the water. Remove and continue until all your pirogues are done. At this point you can serve as is or I like to then brown these little dumplings in butter until they are golden brown on the bottoms. Almost like a pot sticker. This gives a great texture contrast. These can be made in advance and frozen until needed.

You can serve as is or heat the sauce that you cooked the elk in on the side for dipping.

The recipe for the braised elk will give you more than you'll need for this recipe of pirogues. Add some vegetables and potatoes to the meat and turn it into a stew. Or freeze it and save it for another batch of pirogues!

These little bundles of flavor can be eaten hot right out of the pan or as a quick snack right out of the refrigerator.

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Onion & Ale Braised Elk Bratwurst

As I am writing this column there are thousands of people gathering every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at football tailgating events around the country grilling "brats". Bratwursts are originally from Germany and have been around since the 1300's. There are many variations that vary from region to region. They are traditionally made with pork, beef and veal, but it would seem logical to incorporate our own specialty meat (elk) to produce the Rocky Mountain varietal.

The key to incorporating full flavored wild game meat into this mildly spiced sausage is to dry age your game meat before using in this recipe. I had the good fortune to harvest an older bull in Wyoming this fall. I hung the quarters in a walk-in refrigerator for almost three weeks. After that, that big ole bull was mild, tender and had such a fresh smell it was perfect for a sausage like this. Not to worry if you don't have a walk-in. You can dry age your meat piece by piece if necessary. The most important concept is understanding that you need to remove (dry) the capillary blood to remove the "gamey" flavor associated with wild game meat.

braided elk brats
braided elk bratwursts

Rocky Mountain Elk Bratwurst
makes app. 54/5 inch sausages

7 lbs pork shoulder
6 lbs elk shoulder or other tough cut, silver skin removed,
3 lbs pork fat
(all cut into 1 inch cubes)
8 tbsp kosher salt

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slowly toasting your dried spices and herbs will bring the flavor of those items to a whole new level

dried seasonings*
3 tbsp ground white pepper
4 tbsp dried marjoram
4 tsp caraway seeds
3 tsp ground mace or nutmeg
3 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp crushed red chili flakes

2 inches, grated fresh ginger
7 tbsp fresh minced garlic
zest of 2 lemons or limes
1 1/2 tbsp pink curing salt (optional)

3 cups ice cubes
10-12 feet medium hog casings

braised elk brats
grilled brats

Procedure:
Place all the ingredients in a large container. Mix very well, cover and store in the refrigerator overnight to allow the seasonings and salt to penetrate the meat and set up the proteins. This step will give you a smooth consistent texture. If you don't let the sausage cure the end result will be grainy.

After sitting overnight run the meat through a grinder, first through the big holes (1/4 inch) then through the smaller one (1/8 inch). At this point you can store the sausage as bulk or put them into casings. I use medium sized hog casings. Have a pin handy when you're filling the casings. You can prick the casings as you are filling the sausage to remove the air pockets. At this point you can tie off the links or braid them to get the desired size links. Once you have them sectioned now I hang the sausage and blow-dry them with a fan for about an hour. This dry's out the casings so when you cook them they'll have a nice crunchy texture and not chewy.
At this point you can get ready to cook or wrap and hold in the freezer for a use later on.


elk brats waiting for the bath
prepping the beer & onion bath for the brats

Braised Onions & Beer Bath
1 qt sliced yellow onions
3 tbsp fresh garlic
1/4 lb. butter
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp WildEats Burger Dust (optional)
2-3 rosemary or marjoram sprig
2 12 oz. bottles of beer

Melt the butter in a medium saucepot. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the sliced onions, herbs, seasonings and beer. Bring to a simmer and place 8 or so brats into the bath. Slowly simmer until the sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Due to the lean nature of this formula I would go straight from the bath to a glowing grill or heated pan

I like to continue to cook the beer bath until the liquid is nearly gone. The onions then can be used to top the grilled brats.

These sausages should be served with crusty bread, hearty mustard and of course very cold BEER!


Onion & Ale Braised Elk Bratwursts on a crunchy roll, with mustard and your favorite beverage of choice

You don't have to be at a football game to have your own Tailgate Party! Rocky Mountain Style.

* - Take your spice/herbs to a new level of flavor try dry toasting them in a skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes or until you can start to smell their fragrances. This little trick will produce flavors you won't believe.

Elegant Elk Carpaccio

Elegant Elk Carpaccio Salad
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The consumption of raw meat (crudo) has been around since the beginning of time. In fact, there was a time when doctors would prescribe the consumption of raw meat to their patients who were protein deprived.

"Carpaccio" was originally created in Venice, Italy @ Harry's Bar and was served to it's aristocratic clientele. It's a raw meat dish that is marinated with lemon, olive oil, mustard and on special occasions truffles (or truffle oil). The acid in the marinade helps to break down the proteins. The meat is sliced paper-thin and can be served as an hors d oeuvre on a croustini (toasted bread) or as we are here, as a first course appetizer.

The lean rich nature of elk and other types of venison is a great application for this dish. Some folks might be concerned about eating raw meat. Trichinellosis, also called trichinosis is a parasite that is found in meat eating or omnivore animals, such as bears, cougars, fox, coyote or wild boar, not grazer's like deer and elk. Freezing meat can destroy the larvae from other worms, such as tapeworm. So, like all other applications, use common sense. Inspect your meat and only harvest healthy looking animals.

This is a great tasty way to enjoy your harvests. It represents a light, versatile, flavorful culinary application that truly represents a Carnivore's Kitchen. I think you just might be surprised. Give it a try.

Elk Carpaccio Salad

Lemon Olive Oil dressing
Yields about a half quart of dressing, this can be used for any salad

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fine shallots
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
4 oz. fresh lemon juice
12 oz. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Olive oil vinaigrette for carpaccio
Place the garlic, shallots and mustard in a mixing bowl or food processor. Measure out the liquid and mix. In a slow steady stream pour the juice and oil into the mustard mix, while whisking to incorporate. Adjust the seasoning and hold for plating.



ELK Carpaccio

8-10 paper-thin slices of elk sirloin, backstrap or filet, all silver skin removed. Frozen (can also use other wild game, such as deer, moose etc)
several drops of truffle oil
6-8 shavings of Regianno Parmesan cheese
course sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
shaved red onion slivers
micro greens
4-6 toasted or grilled crusty bread sliced into bit sized pieces
Assorted fresh herbs like basil, chives, thyme, oregano etc

Optional - pre rub your meat with your favorite dry rub, like our WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Steak Rub or your personal favorite. When you remove the meat from the freezer, take it out of its packaging, generously rub the meat with the rub. Rewrap it and place it back into the refrigerator to slowly defrost. The meat will slice best if cut when still partially frozen.

pre sliced dry rubbed elk
Arrange the slices of meat in a circle around the plate, this can be done in advance, covered with clear wrap and placed in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When ready to serve, drizzle with the Lemon Olive Oil dressing, sprinkle with the sea salt, grind the pepper, place the shaved parmesan cheese and herbs on top of the meat. Splash the meat with the truffle oil. Then lightly dress the greens with the dressing and place a good amount in the middle of the sliced meat. Serve with warm crusty bread or croustini's.

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This dish has been served in high-end restaurants since the 1950's with plain boring beef, imagine the flavor upgrade you can give to your dinner guests by replace "boring" with "full flavor"!

Korean style Grilled Venison Lettuce Wraps with homemade Kim Chi


An often overlooked and one of my favorite styles of food (and eating), is Korean cuisine, especially their approach to BBQ. The quick cooking, eat as you go, light, exciting, bright flavors of a vast assortment of pickled vegetables, chilies, sake and full flavored meats matches perfectly with OUR wild game meats. Team that with a bunch of small, almost bit-sized portions and you have a social nirvana waiting to happen.

The Korean approach is to match highly seasoned meats with a wide variety of refreshing, acidic, sweet and spiced condiments. The result yields a limitless variety of flavors that will suite just about anyone’s palate.

Grilled Korean style Venison

2 venison loins, top rounds or top sirloins - trimmed of all silver skin, fat and tendons, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
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Lay the sliced meat out on a sheet pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Rub into the meat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. After that marinate this meat with the following marinade.

optional garnishes
scallions, sesame seeds, pickled cucumbers, curried cauliflowers, blanched bean sprouts, seaweed, chilled sweet potatoes, diakon, etc
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A light, spiced, full of flavor approach to your normal, "throw the steaks on the BBQ"

Sake Soy Marinade
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1/4 cup rice wine (sake)
Pinch of black pepper
Mix all the ingredients and use for the above meat.

This thinly sliced meat doesn't need to marinate for too long, ten minutes should do. Pre-heat a grill and quickly cook the meat. Remember to not over cook. Remove from the grill and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before slicing. Slice and serve on little cups of crisp lettuce. Drizzle with the dipping sauce and serve with Kim Chi



Korean Dipping Sauce
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 cup soybean paste
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 Serrano or jalapeno chili sliced thin
2 - 3 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable)
1 cup dry sake
1 bunch of scallions, chopped fine

Place all the ingredients in a small sauce pot and slowly bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings on taste and hold on the side. This dipping sauce can be served with any meat or fish and will store for a month in the refrigerator.



Kim Chi
Kim Chi is a fermented cabbage. It's refreshing acid, spice and texture is used in Korea as a common garnish to just about everything. I think you may become hooked as well.

1 (2-pound) Napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
About 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
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cabbage in salt water (24 hours)

4-6 red radish, cut into 1-inch matchsticks
1 bunch scallions
1/3 cup red chili sauce (Korean or Sraracha)
1 inch frozen ginger, grated
1 tbsp garlic
3 tbsp sesame oil

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INSTRUCTIONS
Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover (about 12 cups), making sure the cabbage is submerged (it’s OK if a few leaves break the surface). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

After this salting, which initiates the fermentation process, drain the cabbage in a colander and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until evenly combined and the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture. Pack the mixture tightly into a container with a tight fitting lid.
Let this sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (the mixture may bubble). Open the jar to let the gases escape, then reseal and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating (kim chi is best after fermenting about 1 week). Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Cooking and eating like this brings everyone together. What better way to enjoy your hard earned efforts than with those you love? Enjoy and keep having FUN!

Spur of the moment Smokey Pulled Pork infused Venison Loaf

Spur of the moment Smoked Pork & VENISON LOAF
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makes two (short) loaves, will feed 8-10 normal people

3 lbs. Ground venison (or elk, moose, caribou, sheep. Etc) drained of excess blood
5 eggs
1-½ cups dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup ketchup or tomato sauce

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp. WildEats BURGER DUST (optional but highly recommended)

1 ½ cups onions, diced fine
½ cup celery, diced fine
2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
2 oz. olive oil
2 oz butter
2 oz dry sherry, cognac or Madera

1 1/2 - 2 cups pulled pork, previously smoked
3 tbsp fresh parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram (or any favorite fresh herb
Salt and pepper to taste

topping garnish -bay leaves, rosemary (or your favorite fresh herb) and sliced red onions

First sauté the celery, onions, garlic in the butter and olive oil. When its wilted and fragrant deglaze with the spirit of choice, allow to reduce until dry. Remove the veggies from the pan and cool quickly.

In a large mixing bowl place the rest of the ingredients (except the topping garnish). When the veggies are completely cooled add them to the meat mixture. Mix thoroughly. Divide the meat mixture in half and place each part into a oiled, parchment lined loaf pan. pack the mixture well into the pans, so there's no gaps or air pockets. Place the top garnish on the meat mixture and cover with the parchment. Seal each loaf pan with aluminum foil.

Place into a preheated 350 over. Bake for 90 minutes. test the center of the loaf, it should be almost firm. If its firm remove the foil and turn up the oven to 385F continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes to brown the top and concentrate the flavors.
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At this point you can let it rest for at least 15 minutes for the juices to redistribute OR put the foil back on top and place weights * to press the meatloaf while it cools. This works great if you’re planning to serve it at a later time.


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You can serve this item as a dinner, sliced for sandwiches or cut small for hors d oeuvres.

*Pressing the meat helps to set the proteins which gives you a nice smooth texture when you cut the loaf (this technique works great on brisket and corned beef as well) and helps the moisture distribution throughout the loaf.

This dish was served with a Apricot Mustard Gastrique. Which is equal parts of Dijon mustard and the following recipe. This gastrique is a great staple to have stored in the freezer for uses just like this...you never know when you need something special to turn ordinary into extraordinary.



APRICOT GASTRIQUE
1 lg. red onion, small dice
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp finely minced fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger)
6-8 tbsp honey
8-10 fresh apricots* OR
18 dried apricots cut in half
1- cup orange juice
1 cup champagne vinegar
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch crushed red chili flakes (more or less depending on your taste)
Salt to taste
* - cut the apricots in half and roast in a 300° F oven for about 45 minutes. This evaporates the moisture and concentrates the flavors.

Place all ingredients in a stainless steel pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and slowly simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching. Adjust the seasonings with salt and additional lemon juice to suite your personal taste. You can puree the gastrique smooth or leave it chunky. Serve warm or cold. This gastrique will store for weeks under refrigeration, or indefinitely in the freezer.

The slight sweet, acidic profile of this gastrique balances the rich nature of wild game like waterfowl. I'm sure you'll find a host of other applications for it as well.

Live to Eat!


"Controlled Burn" BOHEMIAN VENISON CHILI

The first recipe in our NEW WildEats Recipe Collection has to go to our famous "Controlled Burn" Bohemian Chili. This version is with venison, but it can be made just as successfully with any (properly handled) game meat. Over the past 16 years I can't tell you how many hundreds or even thousands of gallons of this chili we have served to our loyal fans. That amount may seem impossible but when you consider all the National Conventions, Seminars, Sporting/outdoor Expos and literally tons of chili I've served up at the Bohemian Grove over the years, this dish has touched a massive amount of people and has a cult like following.
Special thanks has to go to my very good friend - Pat Gilligan for his endless supply of these prized stashes of fabulous game meat. The boys up at VOM have been spoiled for many years, thanks to you......and my Bohemian Chili recipe.
 
Enjoy!

bohemian elk chili

a simmering pot of our famous Controlled burn Chili on the stove…

"Controlled Burn" BOHEMIAN VENISON CHILI

3 oz. cooking oil
5 lb. coarse ground or diced venison, elk, moose, wild boar, etc.
3 oz. CONTROLLED BURN CHILI BLEND

1 - #10 can, or 5 - 15oz. cans of diced tomato in juice
1 - 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 bottle good quality Californian Zinfandel or Merlot
2 large onions, diced
1/2 bunch celery, diced
1 large bell pepper, red or green, cut into small dice
8 good shakes of Tabasco
salt to taste
 

GARNISHES
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 bunch scallions
2 - 4 jalapeno or serrano chilies, finely chopped
shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Make sure you have allowed enough time for the meat to defrost slowly and is drained of excess blood. Heat the oil in a heavy gauge sauté pan, season the meat with the salt. Place small batches of the meat into the hot oil, allow to brown thoroughly. Remove to a large pot and repeat the process until all the meat is browned. Add the tomato product in with the browned meat. Place the celery, yellow onions and CONTROLLED BURN CHILI BLEND into the sauté pan and sauté until wilted, deglaze with the wine. Be sure to scrape any remaining residue from the bottom of the pan and add it to the browned meat. Place the pot on a low flame, cover and allow to simmer for 3 hrs. Stir frequently. Remove the cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. I recommend you serve your chili the next day, as this will give the flavors a chance to blend. Re-heat your chili over a low flame. When completely heated add your remaining garnishes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and Tabasco and dig in!
Chili is one of those dishes that freezes very well, in fact any meat item that is cooked in a sauce can be stored very well in zip lock bags in the freezer for up to a year. So make a big batch and enjoy it for a long period of time

Jewels of the Rockies

closeup

You CAN'T Eat Those!

OK… so what (I believe) started out as a tongue in cheek request from an RMEF member to Bugle Magazine turned into a full blown "discovery" encounter!
Unfortunately this year the draw gods were not on my side (for elk). Don't feel bad for me because as you read this I will be high in the Southern California Mountains chasing Nelson Bighorn Sheep! However, having good friends who've enjoyed my cuisine before enables one to take advantage of connections. My friend Shark Prusinovski connected me to SIERRA MEAT and SEAFOOD Co. in Reno, NV, who include pen raised elk in their extensive product line.  
After many explanation-filled phone calls I was on my way to pick up nearly 32 lbs. of elk testicles for culinary exploration.

There have been lots of stories and jokes about the culinary value of testicles. I too had my doubts, having had the pleasure of handling these by-products of these magnificent creatures that we harvest every year. In my research I found out that Rocky Mountain oysters can be sold as high as $10.99 PER Pound! Someone out there knows something that the rest of us don't.
When you get a fresh pair...as you know they come in pairs...most of the time. The first thing that one recognizes is their smell. Those of us lucky enough to have hunted elk during the rut will recognize this experience. So lets approach the cleaning of these little jewels.
They are housed in a double layer of membrane, which needs to be removed. Simply cut down the side of the jewel and unfold it until you get to the center meat portion. They somewhat look like a solid form of a sweet bread (Thymus gland) but without the sections. At this point they need to be soaked in a vinegar infused brine (recipe below). The vinegar will breakdown the "gamey, rut-like" presence of the testicle.


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uncleaned elk testicle testicles removed from outer membrane




After the jewels have sat in this brine for a day or two, rinsed them off with cold water, dry them off and slice them into 1/4 inch disks. You will notice the wallow-like odor is gone, which is a good thing, just ask my wife. At this point the "tendergroins," as they have been called are ready to be prepared in a number of ways. Believe it or not testicles are considered a very special treat in many parts of the world. They can be sautéed with peppers and onions, added to pizza as they do in the Mediterranean, turned into stews as they do in Mexico, or grilled on skewers with a tangy bbq sauce. There are many ways to prepare this meat alternative, the key is to properly clean and brine them in the vinegar solution before you do any cooking procedure.
Below is a simple approach that WILL surprise you. They are tender, with a tinge of acid (from the vinegar) but actually quite delicate. This could actually take over as your official Super Bowl snack!

 

Ginger Citrus infused Rocky Mountain Crispy Jewels
2 elk testicles (skinned)


Vinegar Brine

1 cup cold water
2 tbsp cider or white vinegar
1 tsp WildEats Ginger Citrus Rub (this blend works very well with jewels because of its refreshing profile) you could also use fresh ginger, citrus peel, garlic and allspice


breadedjewels


Breading

1 cup flour (1/4 cup for dredging)
1/2 cup corn meal
salt to taste
2 egg whites slightly whipped (when breading any item egg whites will give you a crisper coating than if you use whole eggs)

Cooking oil for frying


Dipping sauce

1/2 cup ranch dressing
several splashes of hot sauce



After cleaning and soaking the jewels in the vinegar brine remove and rinse with cold water. Pat them dry and slice into 1/4 inch thick disks. You'll need three bowl for the dredging flour, egg whites and then the breading. Dredge the disks in the plain flour, then to the egg whites, coat evenly and then place in the final breading. Heat the frying oil to app. 365°F and place a couple of the jewel disks in at a time. Fry until golden brown. Remove them to a paper towel lined sheet pan until all the jewels are finished.

These can be served with chicken wings and vegetables prepared in the same manner for your annual Super Bowl Sunday celebration.
 

Elk Stuffed Chile Rellenos with salsa fresco

This is one of my favorite dishes. It's a delicious application for utilizing your ground wild game meats. As with most dishes that fulfill our "comfort food" void it does take a bit of an effort. BUT it’s the effort that makes us appreciate those willing to make it happen. The first step is to defrost those little packages of ground meat. They can be elk, moose, deer or whatever is in your current inventory. For this recipe we'll use elk. Always defrost your meat in the refrigerator. When they are completely defrosted remove it from the package and place it in a colander over night to drain out the excess blood. It's the blood that carries the aggressive, "gamey" flavor in wild game meats.

chilirelleno2

6 fresh poblano chilies, charred over open fire, peeled, and seeds removed.
Meat Filling -
2 lbs. ground elk - sauté the following until soft and allow to cool
1 cup each - onions & celery
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp toasted ground cumin (or 1 tbsp WildEats Controlled Burn Chili Blend & Rub)
4 eggs
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup ketchup
6 pieces of jack cheese cut 1/2x1/2x4 inches
salt and pepper to taste  

rice or vegetable oil for frying

Batter
1/4 cup Flour
6 Raw eggs (separated)
2 tbsp Controlled Burn Chili Blend and Rub
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp flour (from the 1/4 cup)

Procedure:
Char the chilies over an open flame until blistered. Place them in a plastic bag to steam, which helps separate the skin from the flesh of the chilies. Peel the skins and make a slice down the side of the chili. Cut out the seed cluster at the top of the chili and remove all the seeds and veins. If there are additional seeds you can gently rinse it with cold water. Pat dry and hold for the stuffing. Blend all the ingredients for the filling. Once you have the entire filling blended cook a small amount to taste for seasonings, adjust accordingly. Lay the chilies out and fill each one with the meat filling and a piece of the jack cheese. Press the cheese into the meat and fold the chili flaps back over the meat/cheese filling. Secure the opening with toothpicks if necessary. Keep cold until the batter is ready.
For the batter-
Whip the egg white at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the egg yolks, seasonings and flour and gently stir in to incorporate until smooth. Heat the oil to app. 365°F Dredge the filled chilies in the flour and dip each one in the egg batter. Coat evenly. Fry until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain. The chilies can be finished in a 350°F oven for 20-30 minutes dry or with the salsa.

Salsa Fresco

3 lbs. ripe red tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tsp freshly ground cumin
2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 med onions, cut into small dice
2 jalapenos, seeds removed
1 pt chicken stock or water
1/4 bunch cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the oil in a large sauce pot. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until wilted. Add the tomatoes, chilies and cumin stir until fragrant. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook the sauce until the tomatoes are cooked through. Allow the sauce to cool slightly. When the salsa has cooled pour it into a blender to process smooth. Add the cilantro and adjust the seasonings. This salsa can be poured over the chilies before being put in the oven to finish or after it comes out as in the accompanying photo.

The Elevated Snack!

Maybe the French have it right this time?

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Pâté is an often-misunderstood food item. Before we had refrigerators and freezers people exhausted ways of preserving their food sources - salting, canning, smoking, drying (sausages, salami & jerky) confit and Pâtés. Traditionally this blend of meat, herbs, spices and often alcohol like brandy, Sherry or Madeira wine were cooked in terrines that have been lined with thin slabs of fat. As the terrine cooked the fat would melt down and form a seal around the meat keeping it airtight. Without oxygen the terrine could be stored in a cool, "potato cellar", where it could be stored for extended periods of time.
In today’s world we have the luxury of electronically controlled environments- freezers and refrigerators. Pâtés are very festive and actually very easy to make. Picture them like sausages without having to go through all the stuffing. Its also a great way to utilize the random packages of all the tough cuts of meat, hearts and liver that are left after the backstraps, tenderloins, sirloins and top rounds are finished. This is a very mild, aromatic recipe. The amount of venison (or elk) to pork is flexible.

WildEats Deer Liver Pâté - a great way to add a touch of class to any special occasion!

1 deer liver. outer membrane and heavy arteries removed, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 deer heart, trimmed and cut into cubes
2 lbs. venison or elk, trimmed of silver skin, cubed
7 lbs pork shoulder, cubed
6 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
4 oz. dry Madeira wine
1 1/2 cup minced shallots
5 oz (by volume) WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub (optional, but recommended) OR 5 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp instacure #1 curing salt (optional) available on online 7 tbsp kosher salt
6 eggs 1-cup heavy cream
bay leaves fresh sage/rosemary leaves if available


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Equipment
3 - 10 inch bread pans Parchment paper Aluminum foil Meat grinder 3 slabs of wood that fit into the top of the bread pan (wrapped in plastic wrap) large cans or weights to press the Pâté
 
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Trim and cube all the meat and place into a large container. Add the seasoning, wine and spices. Mix well, cover and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day line the bread pans with parchment. Process the meat mixture through the meat grinder using the 1/4 inch plate. I like to run it through twice for a smoother texture. Add the eggs and cream to the meat mixture and mix thoroughly, Divide the mixture evenly in the three bread pans. Lay the bay leaves, sage or whatever fresh herbs you happen to have. Seal the top with the overhanging parchment and then seal with aluminum foil. Place the terrines into a water bath and place in a 350º F for app. 2 - 2 1/2 hours, or until you reach a 165ºF internal temperature.
 
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Remove the terrines from the water bath and place on a sheet pan to cool. In order to obtain a smooth silky texture you will have to weigh the Pâté as it cools. This compresses the proteins and when cold has a very smooth texture. Allow the Pâté to cool overnight before serving. You can also freeze whatever you aren't going to use right away.
Once the Pâté is cold and ready to serve remove the foil, take it from the bread pan and remove the parchment. Clean the gelatin that forms on the outside (this is very flavorful and nutritious) cut the Pâté into slices and serve with crusty bread, crackers, sliced red onions, Dijon mustard or as the French like with little sour pickles called "cornichons."
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You will find that having a stash of Pâté around to share with friends and family will add a touch of luxury to your cheese and cracker plate.

Homemade Bacon

HOMEMADE BACON? Not as difficult as you may think...

bacon

We can all relate to the sensation that occurs in our brains when we the aroma of sizzling bacon passes by our nostrils. Well, this recipe magnifies that sensation 10 fold. This procedure may appear to be complicated but actually is very simple. It DOES require a little time and patience BUT the RESULTS will blow you away. I can't wait for the next time I can go out and bag another wild boar!
Be Aware...this recipe may result in a hostile take over by your neighbors!

Hickory, Honey & Juniper Berry Smoked Wild Boar Bacon


2 3-3 1/2 lb slabs of boar belly meat
3/4 cup kosher salt
3 tbsp instacure #1 *
3 tbsp WildEats Juniperbery & Peppercorn Rub (plus a little more for dusting after the curing process is done)
3/4 cup honey (slightly warmed)
smoker - I use a Texas smoker
appr. 4-5 lbs mesquite charcoals
1 bag of shaved hickory chips

Mix all the dry ingredients. Lay the boar bellies out on sheets of plastic wrap. Generously rub both sides of the boar bellies with the cure. Take the honey and evenly pour over the bellies, spread this out evenly on both sides. Wrap each belly separately with plastic wrap and place them on sheet pans. Place them into a refrigerator for 6 days. Turning over each day.
When the curing is completed, remove the bellies from the wrapping. Rinse with cold water and allow to dry at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the lower compartment of a Texas smoker so the larger compartment to 135 F (or set up your smoker according to the instructions). Presoak the hickory chip in water for 30 minutes before adding to the coals of the lower compartment. Lay the cured bellies in the larger compartment and add 2 cups of soaked hickory chips. Close the top baffle as well as the bottom one. Continue to smoke until the smoke subsides. Add another 2 cups of chips at a time and repeat as necessary until al the hickory chips are finished. this should take about 4-5 hours.
The internal temperature of the bacon needs to reach 128F.
You can also use this cure and smoking method for preparing smoked ham hocks as well.
Refrigerate overnight and either slice it up for frying or wrap in plastic wrap for storage in the freezer.

The Rituals of FALL

As the summer winds down and we who look to the mountains to fill the freezer with free range, organic & natural protein. It has become a tradition at my house to start this process by filling up the freezer with wild game sausage that can be taken to the various hunting camps throughout the west. This sausage will be enjoyed at deer, elk and, this year (2010), at sheep camp, down in southern California's high desert with San Gorgonio Outfitters!

WildEats Italian style Wild Boar Sausage

Yields 30 lbs. of sausage
appr. 100-120 4 inch sausages

venison sausage in the blanket



15 lbs wild boar shoulders, leg meat, cut into 1-2-inch cubes
15 lbs. pork butts, 1-2-inch cube
15 tbsp kosher salt
4 tbsp crushed red chilies
5 tbsp coarse black pepper
2 cup WildEats Lemon Garlic & Sage Rub with fennel (or 6 tsp fennel seeds)
3 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp fresh minced garlic
7 cups ice water
2 tsp curing salt (optional, but this helps to give a smooth textured end result)
1/3 of a *hank of hog casings (35 - 38 mm)

Trim all the fat and sinew from the boar meat. Keep the fat on the pork. Cut both the boar and the pork into uniform cubes. Measure out all the ingredients, add to the meat, top with the ice water and mix well. Cover and refrigerate over night.

Allowing the meat to cure before grinding will give you a nice smooth texture. You will find that if you grind the meat and then add the seasonings/cure the sausage will have a grainy texture.

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The next day, run the meat through the large 1/4 or 3/16 inch grinding plate once if you want a coarse textured sausage and twice if you want a smoother sausage.
Be sure and flush the casings with cold water before stuffing, they are preserved with curing salt and if you don't flush them it could result in digestive issues. Stuff the casings through the grinding machine without the grinding plate or with a sausage press.
When the sausage is stuffed place it on a large sheet pan in a spiral form. Gently press the filling to give an even thickness.
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Make sure you don't over stuff the casings or they could burst when you form your links. Take a pushpin and poke the sausage wherever you see an air pocket. This will help to eliminate gaps in the sausage once you tie or braid them into links.

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The size of the links really doesn’t matter, just try and keep the size consistent. At this point I like to hang and air-dry the sausage, either in a walk in refrigerator or in a cool room with a fan blowing on the sausage. The air-drying is to dry out the casings. If you don't dry them out and proceed to cook them right away they will be very tough and chewy. By drying them out you will get a snappy "mouth feel" when the sausage is cooked.
You are now ready to fire up the grill and enjoy a full flavored wild game sausage. One last note, these are very lean sausage and need to be cooked very quickly and served right away. The absence of large amounts of fat makes this very healthy sausage, so adjusting the standard approach to a fat laden sausage is a small price to pay.

* a "hank" is the amount of casings that will stuff approximately 100 lbs. of sausage.
TIP - Chill the grinding head before grinding to avoid the metal from getting to warm which will cause the meat to get very mushy.

Elk Meatballs in Roasted Tomato and Bell Pepper Sauce


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WildEats Elk MeatBalls

3 lbs ground elk meat, drained in a colander over night to remove the capillary blood
1 med onion, diced fine 1 tsp freshly minced garlic 1 tbsp butter
6 oz. ketchup 6 eggs ½ cup grated Reggiano or Grana padano parmesan 1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tbsp Lemon Garlic & Sage Rub or 1 tbsp fresh sage 1 tbsp fresh oregano or marjoram 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste Pure Olive oil for frying

Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter until translucent, remove them from the fire and cool. In a large bowl blend all the rest of the ingredients, add the cooled onion mixture and blend until smooth.

For Hors D’oeuvres make small balls, about the size of a quarter - for Entrees about twice that size.


Tips on the day- when rolling meatballs have a cup of cold water by so you can dip your hands into the water. This will help the balls hold together and create a nice smooth surface on the meatballs

Roll all the mixture into balls. Take a frying pan and fill it with enough pure olive oil to go to the tops of the meatballs. Heat the oil and place enough meatballs to cover the bottom of your pan. Turn the meatballs as the fry so they are evenly cooked to a golden brown. Continue until all the mixture is finished. Hold to finish in the Tomato Bell Pepper Sauce. Draining the excess blood will greatly improve the delicate flavor of your ground or diced meat.


charred bell peppers


Roasted Tomato & Bell Pepper Sauce

10 medium sized “summer ripe” tomatoes 3 red or yellow bell peppers
3 cans V8 or other tomato juice 2 oz. pure olive oil 1 tbsp minced garlic 1 large onion, cut into very small dice
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and core the stem end of your tomatoes. On the bottom side of the tomato cut a small “x”. Now cut the tomato in half going across the tomato from side to side. The “x” will allow you to easily remove the skin once you roast the tomato and cutting it across will expose all the seeds which you will be able to squeeze out when its done roasting. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and arrange them on a parchment lined sheet pan, cut side down and place them into a 375°F for about 30-45 minutes (depending on the ripeness and size). When the tomato has roasted long enough you will be able to peel the skin right off. After you peel all the skin gently squeeze out the tomato halves to remove the seeds.

While your tomatoes are roasting take your bell peppers and place them over an open flame. This can be a bbq, and campfire or even the burners on your stove. Char them all around until they are evenly blistered. When they are charred place them into a brown paper bag and let them sit for 30 minutes or so. This will help the separate the skin from the flesh of the pepper. Remove the peppers from the bag and sprinkle them with course salt like Kosher or sea salt. This will help you get a grip on the skin and make peeling much easier. Peel all the peppers, cut them in half and remove all the seeds and cut them into small ¼ inch dice. Hold them on the side.
In a pot large enough to hold all the meatballs heat up some of the olive oil and add the garlic first. Sauté that a bit to develop its flavor, then add the onions. Sauté that for a bit and add the diced bell peppers and course chopped roasted tomatoes. Add the Tomato juice and slowly bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs, gentle make sure all the meatballs are submerged in the sauce and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes. Clean any oil or scum that forms on the top of the sauce. You can partially cover the sauce so it doesn’t reduce too much.

If you’re serving them right away you should let them sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. I actually like to make the meatballs a day ahead and reheat them when I need them. Any multiple combinations of flavor will develop their character after they have had the chance to mature. This is true with any items that are braised in a sauce.
They will also store very well (in the sauce) in the freezer for up to a year.

Confit

...The Ancient Art of Preserving

...Confit was developed in the “pre-refrigerator days” by Europeans to extend shelf-life of their harvested meats. After the autumn ritual of harvesting wild game animals they needed to figure out a way to secure the meat source through the long cold winters. This is achieved by curing the meats in salt and slowly poaching it in rendered fats. Often there would be herbs and seasonings like garlic and pepper added to the salt. Much like brining the salt gets absorbed through osmosis and coagulates the proteins, which create a matrix for escaping moisture. This results in a very moist end meat product.

Confit is a great way to utilize the often tough, dry legs of upland birds and waterfowl.

Below is the Wikipedia explanation of Confit.

Confit (French) is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France.
Confit of goose (confit d'oie) and duck (confit de canard) are usually prepared from the legs of the bird. The meat is salted with herbs, and slowly cooked submerged in its own rendered fat, in which it is then preserved by allowing it to cool and storing it in the fat. Turkey and pork may be treated similarly. Meat confits are a specialty of the southwest of France and are used in dishes such as cassoulet. Although confits are now considered luxurious, these preparations originated as a means of preserving meats without refrigeration.
Traditional meats for confit include both waterfowl such as goose and duck, and pork. Duck gizzards are also commonly cooked in the confit method. Varying forms of this delicacy thrive throughout southern France.
“Confit Country” is the area of Occitan France where goose fat is used to cook, as opposed to olive oil, used in Provence where olives are plentiful and thus cheap. Confit country is divided roughly into regions where one type of meat predominates the confit preparations. Goose confit is associated with the Béarn and Basque regions with their classic specialties of cassoulet and garbure, hearty and earthy dishes of confit and beans. Saintonge and Brantôme feature duck confit, often with potatoes and truffles. Non-waterfowl meats are frequently treated to the confit process, but are not classically considered true confits. The French refer to ‘true’ confits as “duck confit” (confit de canard) or “goose confit” (confit de oie); other meats poached in duck or goose fats are considered “en confit.” For example, chicken cooked in goose fat is called poulet en confit.


WILD TURKEY CONFIT


6 wild turkey legs (plucked and skin on)
appr. 2 cup kosher salt (enough to lightly coat each leg)

4 tbsp WildEats Juniperberry and Peppercorn Rub OR 2 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
4-6 small rosemary branches
3 bay leaves, crumbled
3 quarts rendered duck, chicken, goose or pheasant fat, melted (or mild olive oil

Directions:

Press the turkey legs, flesh-side down, into salt. Lightly sprinkle additional salt on fat side. In a non reactive container layer the legs with herbs and spices: Place 3 legs in container, fat-side down, cover with peppercorns, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and press on remaining 3 legs, flesh-side down. Store for three days, covered and refrigerated.

Salt cured wild turkey legs

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Remove legs from container, rinse off salt and seasonings under cold water and pat dry. Place in a deep saucepan or Dutch oven large enough to hold legs and pour in melted duck fat. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce heat to very low and cook until meat actually pulls away from drumsticks. Allow the Confit to cool in its fat. Store, completely covered in the fat, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.

To serve, remove from the fat, debone the meat and cut into small chunks that can be browned in a sauté pan. The meat can also be pulled from the bone and used in a variety of recipes, including stuffing for egg rolls, warmed and added to salads, pizza topping or any other way you'd use cooked meat. Maximize your wild game!


Wild Turkey Confit & Yellow Corn Salad
with sweet basil oil and beef steak tomatoes
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Grilled Rosemary Skewered ELK KABOBS

…The Original Cooking Technique

As we move towards spring and summer people across the country will be pulling the covers off of the old barbeque to prepare for the upcoming gastronomic celebrations in the Americana backyard…grilling. This method of cooking food over an open flame has been going-on since man first discovered fire. One could say that the use of fire to prepare foods for consumption was the genesis of our existence as a species and has certainly established a stronghold in most people’s DNA.

Cooking food over glowing coals requires a little understanding of basic food chemistry, especially when dealing with lean wild game. The more time a piece of meat is exposed to higher heat the greater the risk of drying it out. In order to preserve the internal moisture of those tender cuts of wild game meat they need to be cooked at a very high heat and as quickly as possible. Wild game, unlike fat saturated domestically raised meat that have large amounts of internal fat as an insurance policy against drying out, doesn’t contain a significant amount of fat.

glowinggrill

My approach when dealing with these tender, lean cuts of wild game is to cut the pieces no thicker than 1 - 1 1/2 inches. This allows you to cook each piece very quickly, thus eliminating the potential to dry out on the grill.


The general rule of cooking meats: tender cuts as quickly as possible, tougher cuts as slowly as possible, it’s just exaggerated when dealing with our favorite wild game meat due to its leanness and highly developed muscle structure.

GRILLED ROSEMARY SKEWERED ELK KABOBS


2 lbs. elk loin, top sirloin, tenderloin, top round (hopefully properly dry aged and trimmed of silverskin) – cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
Seasonal vegetables -bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggplant or any other vegetables that are available. Cut to about 1/12 inch cubes *
Seasoned rosemary oil-
2-3 oz. virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
Zest of 1 large orange
1 tsp lightly toasted fennel seeds, ground **
2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp kosher salt

6 – 10 inch long fresh rosemary branches- 7 inches rosemary removed (see picture), soaked in cold water for at least an hour***

Rosemary is one of those herb varieties that flourish as a plant. In fact if you don't keep it trimmed back it will take over an area. The tender new growth tips have the best flavor. Once you get down to the wood older growth it can be quite assertive. Using the long straight boughs as a skewer adds a touch of herbal flavor and helps you to manage your rosemary bushes. Rosemary will regenerate new delicate boughs that are just what you want to use as a fresh herb in other dishes.

* I like to pre sauté (blanch) the vegetables to about halfway cooked and allow to cool before skewering

** To toast the fennel seed simply place whole seeds into a dry sauté pan and over medium heat toast until fragrant. Cool slightly and place into a coffee or spice grinder, process until finely chopped.

*** Soaking the rosemary branches in water helps to keep them from burning when cooked over hot coals

Mix all of the ingredients for the seasoned oil and add to your cut meat. Allow it to sit 1 hour to overnight.

Take your rosemary boughs and peel off about 7 inches of the older growth rosemary on the bottoms, leaving about 3 inches as the tops.
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Take the skewers and alternate the seasoned meat and blanched vegetable garnishes. Get your fire going and allow to burn down to glowing coals (appr. 35-45 minutes). Place the skewers top side away from the fire and grill until rare. Position the grill as close to the fire as your grill will allow. It should take a couple of minutes per side. Remove from the fire and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle a little seasoned oil over the top and dig in

The Culinary Compass Why do some dishes taste better?

Why does some dishes taste better?

Cuisine, like many other things is all about balance! Each ingredient in a dish contributes a particular property to the overall flavor, texture and character of the dishes final outcome. I have developed what I call the WildEats Culinary Compass to help you better understand food from a component perspective. If you look at cooking from this perspective you will find maximizing the culinary value of your dishes to be much easier to obtain. Why do some foods taste better?


culinarycompass



Each ingredient has a property that falls at a certain location on this compass. Just as north is opposite of south and east opposes west, ingredients in a recipe create opposing or complimentary characteristics that help to balance the final results. For example: if you are making a salad dressing and it tastes too acidic (vinegar), then adding a little more oil (fat) will help to achieve the balance you are looking for. If you are adding chilies to a dish and it tastes a little too hot add either a sweet type of herb (basil, cilantro, mint) or some sweet vegetables, (onions, carrots, any roasted vegetable, etc). When you view ingredients for their properties and not just part of a recipe you will be able to adjust the final flavor with a great deal of accuracy.

Most dishes that we find distasteful are usually a direct result of ingredients that are NOT in balance. This is also very true for assertive ingredients that are often miss or over used. Of course there is always going to be certain items that we simple don't like BUT if its because the dish is out of balance knowing how to correct it will expand your capabilities and help reduce those dishes that "didn't turn out too good."


As an ardent student of fine cuisine I have always been fascinated with "WHY." I WAS NEVER SATISFIED WITH JUST KNOWING HOW TO PREPARE A DISH OR EXECUTE A TECHNIQUE. I needed to find out why that particular technique was the right one for this particular type and cut of meat. Having a detailed understanding of these techniques will allow you to have a firm grip on not only what you are doing but why!

Cooking Method Glossary

SAUTÉING - Literally meaning “to jump” - To quickly cook commonly cut ingredients over high heat, using a minimum amount of oil. These pieces of food are generally smaller cuts and the whiter meats and fish are lightly coated with flour before cooking. This coating protects the flesh and locks in the moisture. Only the most tender cuts of meat are used for sautéing. Tougher vegetables that are sautéed should be blanched before hand.

PAN FRYING - Medium or small sized items cooked in hot oil. These items are generally coated with flour, or a breading of sorts. The item to be pan fried is placed in the hot oil that will cover at least half the item. The temperature of the oil will range from very hot (400°F) to medium (325°F) depending on the size of the item to be fried. Generally, the smaller the piece the higher the temperature. Larger pieces of meat or fish that are pan fried might be finished in an oven. Items that have been pan fried should be removed to absorbent paper upon completion. This will assist in removing some of the excess oil.

ROASTING - A cooking process that is done by means of dry heat, generally in an oven. The initial temperature to be somewhat high (375°F or above) to seal in the juices. The remainder of the cooking time should be set at a lower temperature (350°F or below) to reduce shrinkage and retain moisture. Roasting is usually done with large, tender cuts of meat and fish.

PAN ROASTING - The same process as roasting, but deals with smaller cuts of fish and meat. This is done in a smaller pan, usually started on the stove and finished in the oven.

BROILING - Open flame cookery, with the heat source coming from above. Usually items that are broiled are of the tender variety. Items to be broiled are generally basted with a cooking medium (butter, oil or sauce) and are placed in a pan or some other holding devise.

GRILLING - The same as broiling but the heat source is from the bottom and are generally cooked over an open fire (coals).

ROTISSERIE - Cooking over or along an open fire while rotating. Generally whole or larger cuts of fish and meat are cooked on a rotisserie. Sometimes it is necessary to add additional fat to certain items such as game, or fowl. This can be done by either larding or barding with beef or pork fat. Large pieces of fish can also be done on a rotisserie. In the good old days, cooking over the camp fire was the application of rotisserie cooking.

POACHING - To simmer gently, usually in a flavored liquid, example, court bouillon. Items to be poached must be similar in size, to ensure uniform doneness. Items to be poached must be completely submerged in the cooking liquid. Poaching can be done on a stove top or covered and placed in an oven.

BRAISING - Items that are cooked by two different cooking methods first - a dry heat, either by roasting, or quick searing in a pan then - slowly, finishing in a flavored cooking liquid, that generally will be used as a sauce garnish when completed. Items to be braised are the tougher cuts of meat. This is a slow, longer cooking process, breaking down the tough tissue and fibers associated with these cuts of meat (shoulder, neck, shanks and portions of the legs). The exception would be for fish. Common items that are braised are; stews, pot roasts, ragouts, fricassee and blanquettes. Chile and Bolognaise (meat & tomato sauce) is also a form of braising!

STEAMING - The process of engaging items with hot vapors of liquid, sometimes flavored liquid. Items can be suspended over vapors or placed in a sealed container with the cooking liquid. Steaming is a very nutritious method of cooking in that you don’t have to use any oils or fats. Vitamins and minerals are trapped in the item from the force of the steam.

POELÉ - (a term seldom used in todays cooking) Literally means to be cooked in its own juices. Items are cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time. Common items are; veal shoulder, capon, pheasant, grouse and quail. This method is generally applied to tougher cuts of meat.

DEEP FRYING - Items are to be cooked in hot oil, (350° to 400°F). These items are to be submerged in the hot oil, which will quickly seal the item and lock in the internal juices. Fried items are to be dry and generally coated with a coating of crumbs or other dry ingredients. When frying, you should fry in small batches. This will allow the oil to remain hot. If you cook too many items at the same time, the temperature of the oil will drop and the items will absorb the oil, rendering them very greasy. When the oil begins to foam it is time to replace it with fresh oil. This is a sign that the oil has broken down and can no longer maintain the high temperature needed to lock in the flavors and juices of your product. When items are finished they should be removed to absorbent paper to remove the excess oil. Items to be breaded should be done at the last minute, so they won’t get soggy.

STIR FRYING - This is a technique that originated in Asiauses a single wok, over very high heat.Small amounts of fat or oils are used when stir frying. Products are cut into uniform size, this is to ensure even cooking doneness. Basically tender cuts of fish and meat are stir fried. Vegetables that are stir fried generally need to be blanched ahead of time.

BLANCHING - A technique generally used to prepare items to be finished with another cooking technique; fried, stir fried, sautéed or grilled. It is a partial cooking of a product. You can blanch by poaching, steaming, grilling or frying, as long as you only cook the item partially. Items to be blanched would be green vegetables, french fries, sausages, etc.

CONFIT - is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France. Confit of goose and duck are usually prepared from the legs of the bird. The meat is salted with herbs, and slowly cooked submerged in its own rendered fat, in which it is then preserved by allowing it to cool and storing it in the fat. Turkey and pork may be treated similarly.

Fresh Herbs Usage


Fresh Herbs….The Pin Striping to Cuisine

chives

During the summer its hard not to recognize a key player when it comes to flavor – FRESH HERBS. Generally speaking growing your own fresh herbs is probably the single most significant thing one can do to boost their culinary presentations. Living out on the west coast gives me an unfair advantage, as we have a year round growing season BUT knowing what to do when your garden is about to freeze over will definitely help you through the cold winter months that follow. The Splash of flavor that comes from fresh garden herbs is unmatchable in the world of cuisine. Herbs are generally the leafy green part of a plant or shrub. The addition of fresh herbs to a dish is much like the way a winemaker blends different varietals to achieve flavor complexity in his wine. Cooks and chefs have been using fresh herbs to achieve the same with culinary creations since the beginning of civilized cuisine. All the components of a dish contribute to this complex structure of flavor. Fresh herbs play a big part in adding a depth of flavor to whatever they are added to. They have different attributes and should be used according to the structure of a particular dish. There are two general rules to follow when approaching the flavor perspective of a dish; one is conjunction and the other - contrast. For example – if you’re creating a spicy (or acidic) dish using chilies or an aggressive spice (curry) and want to balance (contrast) those assertive flavors, then using a cooling- refreshing herb like – cilantro, basil, mint, dill, fennel leaves, chives, tarragon, etc. will work. If you want to compliment (conjunction) the full flavors of, say wild game meat, and want to match the full flavors associated with these meat items then herbs like sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, savory, thyme, etc. will stand up to those full flavored dishes. There is a distinct difference between fresh and dried herbs in appearance, flavor and the way you use them. Fresh herbs are full of their natural essence and oils that provide a subtle, nutritious flavor that explode with their natural esters and oils. Dried herbs have been dehydrated and don’t contain much in the way of their natural moisture, which provides the subtle flavors of the fresh version. Dried herbs need to be added to a dish at least 20 minutes before its finished to extract their flavors. Fresh herbs should be added right at the end of the cooking process. This will yield a blast of flavor, nutritional value (chlorophyll) and a great visual presentation. You need to be careful not to add your fresh green herbs to a dish too long ahead of when you’re going to serve it because your lovely green flecks with quickly turn into dark unattractive blotches.
If you’re growing herbs in the summer a great way to preserve them for the cold months to come is making them into a “pesto” or “slurry.” We’re all familiar with the Italian Basil Pesto BUT any herb can be made into a pesto. The word “pesto” is a version of a Latin term which means -"to pound, to crush." So we can turn any of our fresh herbs into a “pesto”, -the thick version or a “slurry” thinner oily version.
herbbasket
 
   

Lemon and Herb Slurry


(see picture)
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 – 11/2 cups assorted garden herbs, such as rosemary, marjoram, savory, thyme and chives
zest of two lemons
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

herbslurry
Clean and pick all the herbs. Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth, season with salt and pepper. This slurry can be stored for up to 4 weeks in a refrigerator or for one year in the freezer. Be sure and label your containers with what the slurry is made from as well as date.
• This type of blend is great added to a pasta dish, brushed on bread to be toasted, used as a marinade for your wild game meat, used to baste vegetables for grilling, added to sautéed items at the very end of the cooking process to get that perfect blast of flavor
• The best part of the herb to use is the new shoots at the very end of the branches. The older part of an herb plant, bush or shrub will have a stronger more aggressive flavor. By trimming off the outer part of the branch not only do you get a better flavor but it helps to promote re-growth of the plant
• To store freshly cut herbs, put them into a container with a small amount of water in the bottom, just like you do for flowers (but less water). Wrap them loosely with a paper towel

Super Bowl Chili Alternatives

A SUPER BOWL Chili Alternative
 

WILD TURKEY Blanquette with Wild Mushrooms


Boning Out a Wild Turkey


1. Properly clean and dry your Wild Turkey.
2. Place on a stable cutting board with the head facing away from you.
3. Grab the legs, with a slight amount of pressure spread them away from the opening that was used to remove the innards.
4. Using a very sharp boning knife, starting from the tailbone, make a cut up towards the leg bone.
5. When you get to the leg bone cut through the leg joint and lift the rest of the meat from the carcass. This will remove the famous oyster (a prized, flavorful piece of meat located just above the hip of the animal).
6. Do the same for the other side.
7. To remove the breasts, place your knife right next to the breast bone and make a cut all the way down to the rib cage. Keep your knife as close to the breastbone as possible. 8. Do the same on the other side of the breastbone.
9. Gently pull the meat away from the bones while cutting as close to the ribs as possible.
10. Continue until the entire breast is removed from the carcass.
11. Repeat for the other side.
12. Trim all the fat from the carcass and chop into small pieces, to be used to make a wonderful Wild Turkey stock.
13. You’re now ready to cook or freeze your Wild Turkey! THIS TECHNIQUE CAN BE APPLIED TO ALL BIRDS!

wildturkeyblanquetteposter_000

WILD TURKEY BLANQUETTE*

2–3 lbs. Wild Turkey, breast meat cut into 1-inch cubes****Brined in 2 cups of lemon garlic and sage brine from the recipe in Succulent Turkey overnight 1/2 cup flour 2 oz. olive oil 1 1/2 cups celery, cut diagonally

2 cups chardonnay or other good quality dry wine
3 to 4 cups of stock (or water)
1 Bay leaf
2 cups heavy cream garnish – scallions, parsley, sweet peas, etc.
** Blanquette- the French term for a “white sauced” items that is braised in the sauce. Generally done with white fleshed meats and or fish.
Remove the turkey from the brine and dry with a paper towel. Toss in a bowl with the flour and shake excess flour off. Heat the olive oil in a heavy gauge braising pot and place the meat in the pot. Seal them in the hot oil until lightly golden, (do not brown) remove and continue until all the meat is seared. Do this in small batches. When finished reserve on the side.
In the same pot add the garlic, lightly sauté to develop the perfume. Add the rest of the vegetables, except the mushrooms and sauté for a minute. Flame with the brandy and add the wine. Simmer for a minute to reduce the wine then add the stock and mix until smooth. This will ensure that you don’t have any lumps. Bring to a boil and remove the scum from the sauce on a continual basis. Turn the fire down and add the meat, simmer for appr. 15 minutes, or until the turkey is just barely done. You will need to check as the cooking process progresses. The most important thing is not to allow the sauce to boil at a rapid rate, the slower the better. This will yield a very tender moist final product. When the turkey is done, remove from the heat. In a separate sauté pan sauté the mushroom in a little butter and add to the sauce. Add the cream and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. When ready to serve add the turkey and just bring to serving hot. You don’t want to continue to boil the sauce, as it will make the turkey tough. Adjust the seasoning and add the final garnish. **** This, as with other compound flavored items will actually be better the next day. This cooking technique can be applied to any white meat item, chicken, pheasant, chukkar, quail, pork or rabbit.
If you choose to do the preparations the day before, it’s best if you leave the final two stages, for the day it will be served. Instead of adding mushrooms use this as a base for creating your own combination of garnishes - mustard with dried fruit
- sun-dried tomatoes with fresh garden herbs - curry and snow peas - green chiles and cilantro, basil or mint
Served with rice or noodles and some fresh crusty bread….ENJOY
 
As I post this recipe the weather in Northern California is baring down on us. I know what you're going to say, California! But Yes this event is being called a "phenominum". Six days of pounding rain on the coast (between 10 - 20 inches) and a ridiculous amount of snow in the Sierra's (10-20 FEET!). It's the PERFECT time for some rich, nutritious comfort food, just like this recipe below. Light the fire, uncork a bottle of red and settle in the warm feeling from eating an old stand by.
 
1 1/2 cups onions, cut into med. dice
1/2 tsp. freshly minced garlic
1 qt. diced fresh wild mushrooms, such as shiitake, crimini. Chanterelle, porcini, morels etc. Dried mushroom can also be used after being rehydrated
2 oz. brandy
braisedelkfire2_001
 

Braised Elk Bottom Rounds “Vin Rouge”

8 pcs. Elk (or deer) - bottom rounds, silver skin and fat removed, preferably aged for at least two weeks, cut into 10 -12 oz. pieces 1 cup all purpose flour (for dusting each piece of meat) 2 tbsp WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub to taste
Sea or Kosher Salt to taste Pure olive oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots 2 cups diced onions 2 tbsp minced garlic fresh 2 bay leaves 1 small branch fresh rosemary or ½ tsp dried 1 small branch fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
1/2 bottle – cabernet, zinfandel or merlot wine
2 cups ground or diced tomatoes 1-2 qts. Beef stock (or water with bouillon) zest of one lemon
2-4 oz. butter to finish the sauce
DSC01617_000.JPG
Season the meat with salt and JB Rub and dust with flour. Preheat a heavy gauge pan and add the olive oil. Dust off the excess flour and lightly sear/brown the venison until all the pieces are done. In the same pan (if the pan is not to badly scorched) sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs until wilted. In the same pan deglaze with the wine and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add the seared meat, tomato product and stock. Gently bring to a simmer,** clean the scum that forms on the top of the liquid (grease, fat, blood), cover and place into a preheated 300°F oven for app. 2/1/2 to 3 hours. The actual amount of time need will depend on the thickness of the meat, the actual cut and the amount of time the meat had been dry aged. To determine if the meat is done, gently insert a small knife into the meat, when it freely slides off its time to remove it from the oven. Gently remove each piece of meat to a sheet pan to cool. Strain the sauce in the pan to a saucepot and slowly bring back to a simmer. Slowly simmer the sauce to reduce it by half, cleaning the scum that forms on the top as you go. By cleaning the sauce you are removing the impurities, which will give you a very bright, flavorful sauce for your dish.
If you are going to serve your dish right away, slowly stir in the pieces of butter to the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and the zest of a lemon. Serve this delicious sauce with your meat. You can also garnish this dish with additional fresh herbs, sautéed onions, leeks or mushrooms. If you’re going to serve this at a later time, do this last step just before serving.
Braised dishes will actually get better if served a day or two later. They also store very well in the freezer for use down the road. As a side note, most of the meals i pack when going hunting are braised items. One, as mentioned store very well frozen, two, take very little time to reheat out of the field when you want to send as much time hunting as possible and thirdly, don’t splatter your clothing with highly detectible scents that can come from things fried or pan roasted!
 
** a Simmer is when the bubbles are barely breaking the surface of the liquid – app. 180° F. This yields the maximum extraction of flavor with the minimal amount of reduction (and shrinkage)

Asian Elk Tartar

Next time you have a cocktail party try this recipe for a Japanese version of an old French standby….sure to raise an eyebrow or two!


“ASIAN ” Elk Tartare


Yields about 30 hors D’oeuvres

1 lbs. elk sirloin butt, or top sirloin (Completely cleaned of tendon and silver skin, chopped or ground fine)
½ bunch finely chopped scallions (whites)
reserve the greens for garnish 1 tbsp. pickled ginger, minced
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. red chili oil
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds
¼ cup chopped wakami (Japanese seaweed) optional
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the true adventurer add a ½ tsp of wasabi to the mix
Apr. 30 croustini, crackers or for authentic Asian fare try frying won ton skins cut into triangles for won ton crisps
Place the meat and all the seasonings into a mixing bowl. Blend well and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and place a small dollop on your cracker or won ton crisp. Top that with slivers of scallion greens and serve.

“Attitude Adjusting” elk-stuffed bell peppers

As a young child growing up in an expanding family I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, Elizabeth. She was a widow who had a passion for cooking and sharing her efforts with those that she loved. I cannot recall ever going to her little apartment in NYC without smelling something unbelievable that was brewing on her stove. It seemed that everything she cooked required days of preparation. And the result were evident of that effort. This was one of my favorites….although we didn't have any elk back in the Bronx…this is my WildEats version of Grandma's stuffed bell peppers.

elk stuffed bell peppers 3

“Attitude Adjusting” Elk Stuffed Bell Peppers
yields apr. 20 stuffed bell peppers (halves)
5 lbs. Ground elk meat (which has been allowed to drain in a colander overnight)
1 med. Onion, diced finely
6 oz.V8 juice (from the 3 qts. below)
1 cup raw basmati rice (you can also use regular whole grain rice)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
½ cup WildEats BURGER DUST (optional, but recommended)
6 eggs

a couple of splashes of Tabasco & Worcestershire Salt & Pepper to taste
10 red or yellow bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
3 qts. V8 tomato juice

garnish – optional – sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano

turkey stuffed bell peppers

Mix the meat thoroughly with all the other ingredients in the first section. Arrange the cut bell peppers in a shallow roasting pan, season the inside of the peppers with salt and pepper and fill each one with the meat filling. Place the stuffed peppers in a pre-heat oven @ 350° F and roast for 45 minutes or until the filling starts to turn a golden brown. Top the peppers with the V8, cover the pan with aluminum foil, turn down the oven to 325°F and continue to cook for another hour.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
This type of dish can also be frozen and served at a later date. Let me tell you, this year while at archery elk camps in Montana and Wyoming this dish turned the frowns of frustration into smiles of pleasure that certainly contributed to maintaining a positive approach to our hunt.

Braised Elk "Vin Rouge"

The Perfect solution to a cold winter evening...


braised elk lg fire

Braised Elk Bottom Rounds “Vin Rouge”

8 pcs. Elk (or deer) - bottom rounds, silver skin and fat removed, preferably aged for at least two weeks, cut into 8-10 oz. pieces 1 cup all purpose flour (for dusting each piece of meat) 2 tbsp WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub to taste
Sea or Kosher Salt to taste
Pure olive oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots 2 cups diced onions 2 tbsp minced garlic 2 bay leaves 1 small branch fresh rosemary or ½ tsp dried 1 small branch fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
1/2 bottle – cabernet, zinfandel or merlot wine
2 cups ground or diced tomatoes 1-2 qts. Beef stock (or water with bouillon) zest of one lemon
2-4 oz. butter to finish the sauce


Rub the meat with WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub and dust with flour. Preheat a heavy gauge pan and add the olive oil. Dust off the excess flour and lightly sear/brown the venison until all the pieces are done. In the same pan, sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs until wilted. In the same pan deglaze with the wine and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add the seared meat, tomato product and stock. Gently bring to a simmer,** clean the scum that forms on the top of the liquid (grease, fat, blood), cover and place into a preheated 300°F oven for app. 2/1/2 to 3 hours. The actual amount of time need will depend on the thickness of the meat, the actual cut and the amount of time the meat had been dry aged. To determine if the meat is done, gently insert a small knife into the meat, when it freely slides off its time to remove it from the oven. Gently remove each piece of meat to a sheet pan to cool. Strain the sauce in the pan to a sauce pot and slowly bring back to a simmer. Slowly simmer the sauce to reduce it by half, cleaning the scum that forms on the top as you go. By cleaning the sauce you are removing the impurities, which will give you a very bright, flavorful sauce for your dish.

DSC01617_000.JPG

If you're going to serve your dish right away, slowly stir in the pieces of butter to the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and the zest of a lemon. Serve this delicious sauce with your meat. You can also garnish this dish with additional fresh herbs, sautéed onions, leeks or mushrooms. If you’re going to serve this at a later time, do this last step just before serving.
Braised dishes will actually get better if served a day or two later. They also store very well in the freezer for use down the road. As a side note, most of the meals I pack when going hunting are braised items. One, as mentioned store very well frozen, two, take very little time to reheat out of the field when you want to send as much time hunting as possible and thirdly, don’t splatter your clothing with highly detectible scents that can come from things fried or pan roasted!
 
** a Simmer is when the bubbles are barely breaking the surface of the liquid – app. 180° F. This yields the maximum extraction of flavor with the minimal amount of reduction (and shrinkage).




Comfort Food "Extraordinare"

WILD TURKEY Blanquette with Wild Mushrooms

coming home with TWO 2

Boning Out a Wild Turkey
1. Properly clean and dry your Wild Turkey.
2. Place on a stable cutting board with the head facing away from you.
3. Grab the legs, with a slight amount of pressure spread them away from the opening that was used to remove the innards.
4. Using a very sharp boning knife, starting from the tailbone, make a cut up towards the leg bone.
5. When you get to the leg bone cut through the leg joint and lift the rest of the meat from the carcass. This will remove the famous oyster (a prized, flavorful piece of meat located just above the hip of the animal).
6. Do the same for the other side.
7. To remove the breasts, place your knife right next to the breast bone and make a cut all the way down to the rib cage. Keep your knife as close to the breastbone as possible. 8. Do the same on the other side of the breastbone.
9. Gently pull the meat away from the bones while cutting as close to the ribs as possible.
10. Continue until the entire breast is removed from the carcass.
11. Repeat for the other side.
12. Trim all the fat from the carcass and chop into small pieces, to be used to make a wonderful Wild Turkey stock.
13. You’re now ready to cook or freeze your Wild Turkey! THIS TECHNIQUE CAN BE APPLIED TO ALL BIRDS!

wild turkey blanquette poster

WILD TURKEY BLANQUETTE

2–3 lbs. Wild Turkey, breast meat cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup flour
2 oz. olive oil 1 1/2 cups celery, cut diagonally
1 1/2 cups onions, cut into med. dice
1/2 tsp. freshly minced garlic
1 qt. diced fresh wild mushrooms, such as shiitake, crimini. Chanterelle, porcini, morels etc. Dried mushroom can also be used after being rehydrated
2 oz. brandy
2 cups chardonnay or other good quality dry wine
3 to 4 cups of stock (or water)
1 Bay leaf
2 cups heavy cream garnish – scallions, parsley, sweet peas, etc.
** Blanquette- the French term for a “white sauced” items that is braised in the sauce. Generally done with white fleshed meats and or fish.
Remove the turkey from the brine and dry with a paper towel. Toss in a bowl with the flour and shake excess flour off. Heat the olive oil in a heavy gauge braising pot and place the meat in the pot. Seal them in the hot oil until lightly golden, (do not brown) remove and continue until all the meat is seared. Do this in small batches. When finished reserve on the side.
In the same pot add the garlic, lightly sauté to develop the perfume. Add the rest of the vegetables, except the mushrooms and sauté for a minute. Flame with the brandy and add the wine. Simmer for a minute to reduce the wine then add the stock and mix until smooth. This will ensure that you don’t have any lumps. Bring to a boil and remove the scum from the sauce on a continual basis. Turn the fire down and add the meat, simmer for appr. 15 minutes, or until the turkey is just barely done. You will need to check as the cooking process progresses. The most important thing is not to allow the sauce to boil at a rapid rate, the slower the better. This will yield a very tender moist final product. When the turkey is done, remove from the heat. In a separate sauté pan sauté the mushroom in a little butter and add to the sauce. Add the cream and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. When ready to serve add the turkey and just bring to serving hot. You don’t want to continue to boil the sauce, as it will make the turkey tough. Adjust the seasoning and add the final garnish.
**** This, as with other compound flavored items will actually be better the next day. This cooking technique can be applied to any white meat item, chicken, pheasant, chukkar, quail, pork or rabbit.
If you choose to do the preparations the day before, it’s best if you leave the final two stages, for the day it will be served. Instead of adding mushrooms use this as a base for creating your own combination of garnishes - mustard with dried fruit
- sun-dried tomatoes with fresh garden herbs - curry and snow peas - green chiles and cilantro, basil or mint
Served with rice or noodles and some fresh crusty bread….ENJOY

THE SECRET TO KEEPING YOUR UPLAND BIRDS MOIST - Brining

brined pheasant
pheasant bringing in a tupperware tub…

I’ve come to realize that we are a “soak-minded” group when it comes to handling our meat. Most of us believe that if we submerge our aggressive flavored meat in some creative concoction the good stuff will go in and bad will be removed.
As with most rules, there is always an exception, or two – Bringing is one of those exception (when dealing with white meats- upland birds, poultry, pork, boar, etc. and red meats if smoking is involved)


Brining is a process in which meat is soaked in a salt solution before cooking. Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked by denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells. The salt enters the cell and the increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water (and flavor) from the brine. The salt introduced into the cell causes the proteins to coagulate. This coagulation creates a matrix which traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This is what prevents the meat from drying out, or dehydrating. Thus, a very moist end result.


If you’ve never brined white meat, you will be amazed at the results. Use this technique after a little dry aging and you are well on your way to high level cuisine.

As you can tell I’m a big fan of brining white meats. Meats such as pheasant, quail, wild turkey, chukar, boar, and even domestic poultry and pork get tremendous benefits from bring for the above described reasons. We’ve all experienced dry, tough upland game birds, this IS how you eliminate that.

 
 

GINGER CITRUS BRINE

FOR BIRDS (poultry & upland), PORK & BOAR

2 gallons warm water 1-cup kosher salt 3/4-cup sugar 1 jalapeno. Chopped into small pieces 1 lemon, cut into slices ½ cup WILDEATS Ginger Citrus & Pepper Rub (you can also use the Lemon Garlic & Sage Rub with fennel) 2 bay leaves 1 onion, cut into slices 6 cloves of garlic, bruised
15 – 16 lbs. of meat
Mix ingredients thoroughly, place meat product into brine.
Refrigerate for – Pork/boar - loin roast 2 days Pork/boar chops – overnight Turkey (whole) – 3 days Chicken, grouse, chukar, pheasant whole – 2 days Chicken, grouse, chukar, pheasant, pieces – 1 day Quail, overnight




brined turkey in milk crate
Wild Turkey getting brined in a milk crate



PICT0002_2
wild boar brining in zip lock bags…….

Allow the meat to dry on a rack, uncovered in the refrigerator- the larger cuts should dry overnight, the smaller ones for a couple of hours. When you are ready to cook these items all you need to do is brush them with a little oil and cook as usual. There is NO need for additional seasonings. The brining of the muscle structure locks in the natural moisture of the meat, yielding a very moist, succulent final result. The results will have you brining all your white meat items.



You can cook brined meat by grilling, pan roasting, roasting, sautéing and broiling,

All meat needs to be allowed to rest before slicing or cutting. This resting period allows the redistribution of the internal moisture throughout the muscle, giving you a more tender, juicy and evenly cooked product.

The REAL Secret to Getting the Most out of your Waterfowl (it's really not a secret)

duckL2WATERFOWL & DRY AGING



ATTENTION ALL WATERFOWLERS!

Once again, we are winding down the waterfowl season. And it is incredible just how many out there never get to enjoy this meat source at its maximum potential.

A more dedicated group of outdoorsmen you will not be able to find.

There are many styles of hunting waterfowl and there are just as many antidotes to prepare them for cooking. Water-fowlers, for as dedicated as they are about their pursuits are probably the biggest victims when it comes to accurate information about the proper handling of this often misunderstood meat source. We have been pursuing these wonderful creatures for a very long time and many folks handle ducks and geese the way that they were taught or, as I have heard for years, “that’s the way we always did it.

I can’t begin to tell you how many people want to know, “ how do I get rid of that gamey, muddy taste of my – ducks & geese. And, “it always comes out tough” or worse “I love to hunt ducks and geese but boy oh boy I can’t get anyone to eat’em!” Well, we can address all of those issues at one time.

The first thing we need to understand is what waterfowl are- they are the equivalent to Olympic athletes. When you think about it, all they do is migrate thousands of miles only to return a couple of months later. Have you ever wondered why their muscles are so dark? Well they have this process called “re-oxygenation,” it allows them to fly for hundreds of miles at a time - they have twice the amount of capillary blood than a land animal. Hence the deep dark almost eggplant color of their flesh. This extra blood keeps their heart and lungs supplied with the needed oxygen during these long flights.

This is great for the birds but not so much for us. The capillary blood that's in your muscle structure is the broken down bi-product of what you eat. So, if you’re a duck eating aquatic plant life out of the bottom of a muddy slough and that flesh is consumed in its fresh state it's going to taste like the bottom of a muddy slough.

The only NATURAL way to remove this excess blood AND breakdown this highly developed muscle structure is through “DRY AGING.”

dry aging duck brst


The finest restaurants throughout the country dry age their beef for 21-28 days. In the domestic meat department, this is over kill. These are incredibly underdeveloped muscle systems compared to wild game animals. But its the only natural way to breakdown the highly developed muscle systems of wild game animals. My philosophy is to
"heal the wound and throw the band-aide out."

Yes, I know there are thousands of myths and remedies for making your ducks and geese tender and eliminating the gamey muddy liver flavor often associated with these creatures. Including a variety of brines, milk, buttermilk, baking soda and so on...DON'T DO IT PEOPLE!
seared duck breasts scott
Pure and simple, ducks and geese are aggressive in taste and tough because they are completely saturated with this blood. After doing wild game cooking seminars for nearly twenty years I ask one question when addressing this issue with my fellow waterfowlers - would you do that to a beautiful piece of ribeye steak?

100% of the time the response has been, "of course not".

I am a big fan of brining, BUT brining has its place - with all white-fleshed meat (pheasant, chukar, quail, wild turkey, chicken, turkeys and pork both domestic and wild). Assuming that the good stuff goes in and the bad stuff goes out is a culinary misnomer. Again, refer to my example using the ribeye. During the brining process the salt penetrates the proteins creating a matrix that locks in the moisture. Great for your upland birds but not so much when it locks in the capillary blood soaked moisture of a fresh duck or goose.

If you soak a piece of any meat long enough you will dilute the blood... along with any hint of flavor. The rules of harvesting an animal should be the same across the board - waterfowl, big game, domestic animals et al. Quick clean kills, followed by evisceration and the removal of any contamination or bloodshot, followed by cooling and proper storage.

Dry Aging can happen at any time, either before you put your ducks in the freezer or as your pulling them out. Dry aging is nothing more than the draining of the capillary blood and the evaporation of the internal moisture of the muscles. Without the blood the taste become very delicate and mild. Without the internal moisture the fiber structure of the muscle tissue breaks down and becomes tender. Tender and Delicate, then you won't need the "habanero, teriyake, honey, sake, soy glaze" to get everyone to eat it.

Dry aging takes time (see the dry aging time chart)

All you need to accomplish this is –

1. A tray or plate large enough to hold your birds.

2. A screen or rack that will keep the meat from sitting in its blood

3. A refrigerator

4. Time and patience!

This process can be done before the birds are frozen (right after the hunt) or, as needed as you take them from the freezer. It doesn't matter when it happens, just that it happens. When removing them from a freezer - take your wrapped birds and place it on a plate or tray in the refrigerator. Leave the wrapper intact. We want to slow the defrosting process down as slow as possible. This will allow the meat to retain its natural juices. To completely defrost the average duck will take about two days. When it is totally thawed out remove the wrapper. Discard the blood that has purged out. I cut out the backs and place them cut side down on the racks. Dry off the birds and place them onto the rack. Place the rack on a tray that will catch the draining blood. Place the tray/rack into the refrigerator, uncovered. Make sure there is good air circulation around the meat. The exact amount of time needed to properly age will vary - on average; it will take between 3 – 7 days (after the meat has defrosted) for ducks, 8 - 14 days for geese.

You will want to dry age your birds in whole form, skin on. This way the skin and bones get a dark dried out glaze and not the meat. Giving you 1) a great yield and 2) the extended time necessary to achieve proper dry aging (with tender results). Naked breasts will dry out too fast.

The color of an aged waterfowl will go from an eggplant purple color to the color of a piece of veal. You can tell if your birds are aged enough by squeezing the breast meat with your fingers. If the meat yields to the pressure, it means the fibrous tissues are broken down and it is ready. If it feels rubbery and bounces back, it might need a little longer. Once you have Dry Aged your birds, and trust me once you do this you'll never handle your birds any other way, I recommend boning the breasts out, discarding the dried out bones, trim off most of the fat and any darkened meat. I save all the legs from my ducks and place them into a freezer bag until I've collected enough to put them to use. I've made meatballs, soups, stocks, sauces, and chili, bolognaise sauce for pasta and also mini smoked duck hams with the legs. It does take some work but that’s the fun part of cooking. Sharing your discoveries with your friends and family is a great gift.

Dry Aging, although timely, will give you results you never thought possible This process gives you the best of both worlds, tender and mild. If you thought your favorite waterfowl recipe was good before…wait until you try it with an aged piece of meat! Now, I don’t think you can ask for more than that. You’ve worked very hard for your harvests, enjoy them to their maximum potential. I can’t tell you how many dinner guests of mine where amazed at the tender, subtle flavors of my wild waterfowl meals. Your guests will be just as amazed.
DSC04736
Recommended Dry Aging time for Red Meat Birds
Doves 1 day Band-tailed pigeons 1-2 days Teal (sm. ducks) 1-2 days Widgeon (med. ducks) 2-4 days Sprig/Mallards (lg. ducks) 4-7 days Specks/Snow Geese 7-10 days Honkers 10-14 days



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