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Wild Game Cookery


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Perhaps because its that time of the year again, but there seems to be a spike in game-related threads of late. I thought it might be useful to compile these resources into one thread, as well as provide a place where we can discuss wild meat (recipes, processing, ethics etc..). Here are some of the threads I've found so far:

Squirrel

Domestic vs wild squirrel

Deer deathmatch 2007

Caul fat from fallow deer

Ground deer

Asian deer recipes

Wild duck/goose hearts

Wild rabbits

Game (with internal links)

Please post additional links, pictures, recipes, accounts!

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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I recently went on my first real hunting trip (i.e: active participant) along with my father and uncle. They generously gave me their catch to add to my meager harvest, and I gratefully accepted, not knowing anything about the chore of plucking and drawing.

The harvest, 2 canada geese and 5 ducks (3 mallard, 1 black duck, 1 black duck x mallard hybrid)

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Preparing to pluck (this was done outdoors, with a garbage back nearby)

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Step 1: Plucking down the breast bone (you want to pull the feathers 'downwards', in the same direction they grow or else you will almost certainly rip the skin).

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Step 2: Continue plucking. I found that short rapid pulls with relatively few feathers was ultimately easier than trying to take out too many feathers at once. I also stopped plucking after the first joint of the wing (too much effort for almost no meat). At this stage, no need to worry about removing all the small pin feathers.

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Step 3: I then cut off the wings. That's a female mallard in the middle, flanked by the two black ducks (notice the difference in foot color as well as the head/neck contrast). The mallard also has visibly more fat on its breast than the black ducks, but I don't really know if this is a general species difference or a random difference in condition (the black ducks were shot together)

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Step 4: Waxing! After trying to do a goose entirely by hand (and cursing profusely) I tried this approach to great success. Melt about a pound of parrafin on the stove, being careful not to heat it past about 150F (65C). You don't want to cook the bird! Then you laddle the melted wax onto the bird and then plunge it in a cold water bath for about 30s to harden. The skin won't get soggy because it's covered by wax. Cut off the feet

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Step 5: Cut off the head, and peel off the wax. It's a miracle!

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Step 6: Now that the hard part is over it's time to draw the bird. I won't put up unnecesarily graphic pictures, but be warned.

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Cut around the anus:

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Reach in and pull out! Don't forget the heart and liver:

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Ready to roast:

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Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Good timing, Mallet!

We had the pleasure of plucking and drawing our first pheasants last week. Sadly, it was done indoors (raining at the time) and I'm still finding feathers. I love your waxing idea!!!

We haven't eaten them yet, but we've had a fair bit of game already, and our freezer is pretty full. I love this time of year!!

Si

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Try this Simon.....Coq Pheasant au Vin

Apologies for the simplistic method but I posted this elsewhere and just pasted here !

First get a nice old cock(snigger, snigger.....get it over with) pheasant as they have the taste but are tough and better suited to this treatment. Choose a pheasant with big spurs as that will be an old one, skin it and joint it into 4 pieces. Then assemble the rest of the ingredients as below....

250gm belly pork

4-5 small pickling onions or the same amount of shallots quartered

2 sticks celery cut at an angle

6 small mushrooms

1 whole HEAD of garlic(stick with me you`ll thank me later)

butter

plain flour

1/2-3/4 bottle of red wine(cheap is fine)

1 pint of chicken/vegetable stock

Thyme and bay

salt and pepper.

Pre-heat oven to gas 1/2 or 120" C

Melt some butter in a large frying pan and fry the cubes of belly pork,I had a spare single sausage in the fridge so that went in too.

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Whilst they are browning, place some of the wine in a flame proof casserole dish and warm it through and then put a couple of tablespoons of flour in a plastic bag and add a pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper. Put a joint of pheasant at a time into the bag and shake so it gets coated lightly with flour. Remove the pork from the pan when golden and add to the casserole dish then if necessary add more butter and fry the onions and celery until lightly golden and add to the casserole dish, then do the same with the jointed pheasant. Always try not to over crowd the pan. De gaze the pan with some of the stock and using a wooden spatula get all the crispy(tasty) bits off the bottom. Pour the juices into the casserole

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The casserole dish will look overcrowded at this point but thats OK for this part of the recipe, add the rest of the hot stock and herbs. Then cut the head of garlic in half around the equator(see further down) and squeeze this in too. If it isn`t all covered top up with wine. If it is drink the wine :D

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Cook for at least 1-1/2 hrs in the oven, then strain the liquid off through a fine sieve(not plastic) into a pan and boil to reduce it by about 1/3 to half it`s volume.

Remove the meat from the bones and return to the veg and keep warm.

Now get the garlic and squeeze the halved cloves out of their skins and mash to a paste with a fork and add this to the cooking liquid. This will add the sweetness to the sauce and is VERY wortwhile.

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When the sauce is reduced add the meat and veg and allow to heat through, then fry the mushrooms in butter and add. Serve with what ever you fancy, I like plenty of mashed tattie and some carrots and savoy cabbage.

**edited to add the mushrooms......Sorry !**

Edited by Henry dV (log)

"It's true I crept the boards in my youth, but I never had it in my blood, and that's what so essential isn't it? The theatrical zeal in the veins. Alas, I have little more than vintage wine and memories." - Montague Withnail.

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After about 20 years of plucking and parafin, I switched to breasting out the bird and also taking the leg thighs and giblets. Very simple, very fast. Many game birds actually benefit from seperately cooking the breast from the leg thighs.

At one time we even located a guy who cleaned wild ducks and geese. We would give him the birds, go have lunch and pick them up on the way home. Rumor has it that his wife and children made him give up the business because of the smell!

Anyway, when he closed, we switched to breasting out and have never looked back.-Dick

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We had the pleasure of plucking and drawing our first pheasants last week. Sadly, it was done indoors (raining at the time) and I'm still finding feathers. I love your waxing idea!!!

I wish I could take credit for it! Despite having done everything outdoors, the odd feather seems to turn up every now and again...

Henry, looks like a great recipe! I'm looking forward to trying it.

After about 20 years of plucking and parafin, I switched to breasting out the bird and also taking the leg thighs and giblets. Very simple, very fast. Many game birds actually benefit from seperately cooking the breast from the leg thighs.

At one time we even located a guy who cleaned wild ducks and geese. We would give him the birds, go have lunch and pick them up on the way home. Rumor has it that his wife and children made him give up the business because of the smell!

Anyway, when he closed, we switched to breasting out and have never looked back.-Dick

So at the end of the procedure you are left with skinless breasts and thighs? What do you do with the rest of the carcass? I agree that cooking breast and legs separately is often desirable, but I can't imagine not having the opportunity to make stock with the carcasses, not to mention the crispy skin and fat :wub:. Could you describe the procedure in a bit more detail?

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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After about 20 years of plucking and parafin, I switched to breasting out the bird and also taking the leg thighs and giblets. Very simple, very fast. Many game birds actually benefit from seperately cooking the breast from the leg thighs.

I don't have quite 20 yrs but I agree breasting out is a practical way to go for small and lean wild birds, especially if you have lots of them. No plucking, no gutting. I consider plucking ducks to be about twice as hard as plucking chickens. If you like the fat, and I do, get a farm bird.

But if you want to do the "beak to tail feather" thing then good on you. One day I'd like to see how far a single duck could go - dim sum the feet, make arrow flights, tie some flies for fishing, etc.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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But if you want to do the "beak to tail feather" thing then good on you. One day I'd like to see how far a single duck could go - dim sum the feet, make arrow flights, tie some flies for fishing, etc.

Round of applause for Peter please, TOP POST ! The duck is the flying version of the pig IMHO.

"It's true I crept the boards in my youth, but I never had it in my blood, and that's what so essential isn't it? The theatrical zeal in the veins. Alas, I have little more than vintage wine and memories." - Montague Withnail.

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This timely since I found a bag on my front door a few days ago filled with pheasant pieces and a note/obituary

Other than braising which did cross my mind any other suggestions for the assorted parts ? bone in skinless...

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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I dredged in flour, browned in duckfat, removed the boneless breasts, deglazed with sherry vin, hit it with demi and covered for 10 min to finish the bone in thighs. Returned the breasts and finished with cherry preserves.

Served with boiled baby pink potatoes and brocolli

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Pheasant is pretty good :smile:

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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Our thanksgiving dinner this year was wild pheasant. I did a sous-vide with the breast (but a gentle poach would work well too) and a confit with the legs and thighs. Made a sauce from pheasant stock and red wine. I think the poached breasts were better. I had never cooked pheasant but had heard a lot of horror stories about tough, dry meat and over cooking which was why I went for very gentle ones. I am looking forward to trying the methods here.

It was nice to have a break from turkey. :wink:

Anyone who says I'm hard to shop for doesn't know where to buy beer.

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks to generous donations from my family (I went home for Christmas with an empty cooler :biggrin:) plus my own harvest I managed to pull enough together for a game dinner featuring sous vide techniques (since I recently got the setup and am eager to see what SV can do). Here's the plan so far:

warm curried crab salad with potato crisps

I saw this picture on the net and thought it looked good, so I thought I'd have a go at it with some NB snow crab

thai-style rare grouse salad

deer leg with flageolets

Adaptation from Bouchon's "Leg of Lamb with Flageolets", except I will use 36-hour deer SV.

smelts

panko-fried with cucumber tartar sauce

pickled with raw beet rémoulade

dried with soy-ginger dipping sauce

mallard

SV breast with shallot-cassis confit

confit leg with red cabbage and wild rice

snowshoe hare rillettes with prunes

from Bouchon

salmon mi-cuit with vanilla pepper oil

I got the recipe here .

dessert?

Not quite decided here, but I thought I'd go light with a wild blueberry sorbet.

No decisions on wine yet, but since there's just 4 of us I'm thinking of getting 2 bottles of red (1 with courses 2-3 and 1 with courses 5-6) and 1 white for the seafood.

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here are the pictures from the game dinner:

Thai-style rare canada goose salad

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The marinade gave the outside a more cooked appearance, but the breast meat was very tender and rare. Given the strong flavours (fish sauce, lime juice, chiles etc..), I would be curious to see how this would turn out with a more "potent" meat, like merganser.

36 hour leg of deer with cannellini beans and thyme jus

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This was cooked sous-vide at 130F. I love the ability to tenderize a tough cut while keeping the flavours associated of medium-rare meat.

Smelt three ways

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I made pickled smelt with raw beet rémoulade (bottom left), panko fried smelt with cucumber tartar sauce (bottom right), and tamari-dried smelt with ginger (top). All three were very good, and the raw beet rémoulade is a must-try in my books.

Mallard breast sous vide and leg confit

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The breast was cooked sous vide at 130F for about 3 hours, and both were served with a red wine-based onion/shallot confit .

Snowshoe har rillettes with prunes and cheeses

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This kicked the ass of any rillettes I've ever made. The hare combined both the sweetness associated with rabbit and the full flavours of game together. The wine-braised prune purée just sealed the deal.

Salmon mi-cuit

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This was cooked sous-vide at 104 for about 45 min. While I really like the flavour and texture of the salmon and would definitely do it again, the vanilla oil that the fish was poached in was just too much for me. I guess all the warnings about aromatics and sous-vide were true...

Wild blueberry sorbet

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I don't know what it was, but this was easily the best sorbet I've ever made. Near-revelatory. I chalk it up to the fact that these were the best blueberries in the world (handpicked when perfectly ripe by a seaside bog in northern NB by my grandfather).

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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  • 10 months later...

Another year, another game dinner! Since I don't go hunting/fishing nearly as often as I'd like, and also not being terribly good at it, I find myself hoarding meat throughout the year and then blowing it all in one epic meal :biggrin: This year a friend of mine is contributing some game as well. So far, we have the following dishes planned:

mallard necks

I want to stuff the necks with squirrel meat, and inlay a morning dove strip: any ideas how to do this? I'd like to keep the skin in one piece if possible.

splake

For those of you who don't know (I didn't until recently), splake is a brook trout(aka speckled trout)/lake trout hybrid. I was going to SV these in butter, and serve a with a light caper-based sauce.

pintail

pastrami (only because I like alliterations). I'm using the duck pastrami recipe from Under Pressure.

porcupine

I'm adapting a recipe from Alinea, with pickled blueberries, beets, fennel, and burning cinnamon

grouse

roasted, then served with cold beet salad (from Marco Pierre White's Great British Feast)

diving ducks

we have both long-tailed duck (formerly known as oldsquaw) and lesser scaup. I haven't tasted the scaup yet, but the long-tailed duck is very 'livery' so I thought I would run with that and make "diver and onions" with figs, from Bouchon.

deer

another Alinea recipe (originally with wagyu), with honeydew melon, cucumber and soy pudding

cucumber/mango

Also from Alinea, this is a cucumber/mango leather roll-up. By this stage a light course with no meat might be appreciated.

pheasant

with cider vinegar, pomegranate, and apples. From Batali's Simple Italian Food

apple

with horseradish and celery juice, from Alinea.

blackberry

with tobacco cream, smoke. When I saw this on the Alinea @ home blog, I knew I had to make it.

sour cherry

sorbet.

The dinner's not planned for a few weeks, any suggestions (especially for wine/beer pairings) are welcome!

Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here are some pictures from the Game Dinner, Mark II.

Stuffed mallard neck

with squirrel, mourning dove, red-winged blackbird, and pork fat.

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I am a squirrel convert.

Rideau fish

From left: largemouth bass, small reproductive adult, monster spawning male, and winter splake. With olive/caper spread.

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The variety in color and taste of the splake was really cool. Winter splake was the clear favourite to my mind, tasting like trout. The large spawning male was not very good, but palatable with the spread.

Pintail pastrami

cured Northern pintail, coleslaw, bagel toast

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This was many people's favourite dish.

Porcupine

From left, corned porcupine ragout, butter-poached beets, seared porcupine. garnished with pickled blueberries.

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Really heady and intense. The porcupine was delicious, not unlike very rich beef.

Grouse "leftovers"

From left: blue grouse, beet salad, ruffed grouse. Served cold

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The two grouse species were quite different. The ruffed grouse was mild like chicken, the blue grouse was gamier.

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The rightmost breasts are from long-tailed duck, and the leftmost breasts are from lesser scaup. The darkness of the long tailed duck meat was extraordinary! Both are diving ducks.

Diver and onions

From left: wine-poached plum, caramelized onion, diving duck breast.

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This played up the liver-y qualities of the diving ducks (esp. long tailed duck) well.

Deer

From bottom to top: honeydew melon, deer rump, cucumber, soy pudding, lime sugar, macro cilantro.

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Really tasty, but there was too much soy pudding for my taste, making the dish quite salty. There was a definite progession of flavours: first the almost overpowering saltiness of the gellied soy sauce, which gave way to the freshness of the cucumber and melon, with the lime sugar and cilantro finishing off the bite.

Cucumber, mango

I didn't get a picture of the finished dish, but this was topped with clove salt, coriander salt, candied lemon zest, fresh ginger, juniper berry, and saffron

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Really complex and flavourful

Apple, horseradish

Celery juice, and apple cider encased in a horseradish butter shell.

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This was the dish I was most nervous about execution-wise, because I didn't have either the spherical molds or the cocoa butter powder called for in recipe to make the shells. I decided to gamble with ice-cube trays and melted butter: success!

Blackberry, smoke

Blackberry in a cigar-infused cream, with smoked salt and mint.

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It was interesting, but could have been better. I think I sabotaged the dish by using a relatively cheap cigar and thawed berries.

Sour cherry sorbet

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I love finishing a long meal with sorbet.

The wine pairings were all good, but unremarkable.

For sure the most elaborate meal I've made to date. I was definitely inspired by having so many different species to work with, and the novelty of both the meats and the dishes were exciting.

I was told that I made mallard/apple crepes were made later on in the evening, but I have no pictures or recollection of this whatsoever.

Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Mallet, you've really raised the bar -- that's looks like a $100+ tasting menu. All home-cooked, correct?

I have questions. I thought I saw a red-winged blackbird, a red-winged blackbird . . . :biggrin: sorry, David Francey joke -- I'm a big fan. Seriously, I grew up around these birds, and mourning doves and porcupines and I've never known anyone to eat them. How does one acquire these things, and are permits required?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Thanks, Peter! Everything was indeed cooked at home, over a 3-day period (from Friday night up until the dinner on Sunday). Normally I would have given myself more time but I had to pick up 2 pigs from the abattoir on Wednesday, and spent that day prepping them for the freezer (only on eGullet can you say that with a straight face). Thankfully one of my friends volunteered to help out with the game dinner over the weekend. It's been an eventful week, food-wise.

As far as the meats go: in Ontario almost everything I served can be shot with a general small-game license (porcupine, squirrel, red-winged blackbird but also groundhogs, american crow, brown-headed cowbirds, starlings, house sparrows amongst others). For certain species, like european starling and house sparrow, there isn't even a limit or season! I think this is due to a combination of abundance and low hunting pressure.

Ducks require a migratory bird stamp (federal), since the regulation of those species is coordinated at the international level.

Some of the game, like the ruffed grouse and deer, was "salvaged". A year or two ago I would have completely balked at the thought of roadkill but as it turns out it's actually pretty common in rural Ontario (especially grouse). It helps to have adventurous friends: I served this to 6 other people, everyone partook.

For this particular meal, I relied on the generosity of friends. The bass and two of the splake came from a friend's father and the deer, lesser scaup, morning dove, and northern pintail was donated by another friend.

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Mallet, your dishes look fantastic! I particularly like the look of your squirel and blackbird dish.

It makes me feel even more like learning to hunt. I already pick mushrooms, wild berries and other wild plants and I sometimes fish (including on the Rideau river), but growing up in the city I was never really introduced to hunting. Maybe winter roadkill is an easy solution?

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Thanks, Magictofu. This year was my first with an Ontario license, and being a novice hunter in an unfamiliar area is definitely tough, especially when you're based in the city. Around here, almost all of the land is private and if you're shy like me you're not likely to show up at some random farmer's house and ask if you can run around his/her property with guns. I'm definitely learning as I go, and it helps to have friends to share in the adventure. Other than culinary curiosity, one of the reasons we're eating more unusual game items and traditionally less sought-after ducks (eg: long-tailed duck) is simply that we don't good spots for the primo game species or any clue about hunting deer, so it's a matter of taking what you come across. I'm glad we decided to try some of these things, though, because they are truly delicious and worth the cost/effort!

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Mallet, if you are willing to drive a bit further North, I have been told that North of Ottawa, in Quebec, there are more public lands than in all Eastern Ontario. You would require a Quebec hunting permit however. Some of these are controlled by local authorities (ZEC) while others are game reserves, there are extra fees associated to hunting and fishing in these areas but you get the benefits of having access to the area through numerous roads and trails.

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Thanks for the info, I'll definitely look into it.

With some of the leftovers from the game dinner, I'm attempting lesser scaup and long-tailed duck prosciutto (made with the legs). I don't think it will take more than a few days total, since the legs of wild ducks are laughably small.

In the meanwhile, I thought I would add a link to this excellent blog:

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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In the meanwhile, I thought I would add a link to this excellent blog:

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Thanks Martin, that link is outstanding!

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 2 weeks later...

both meals look awesome.

I have to say, those are the biggest smelt I've ever seen.

when I clean ducks I will hand pluck the breasts, & then if you hold the skin tight to the body so it doesn't tear, you can rub it with your other hand. the fat/oil in the skin will cause the pin feathers to roll up and come right off. you can then finish up with a lighter to singe the little "hairs". I then cut the whole breast out and bone it (I'm sure there's a joke there some where)from the back side. leave the skin on. the rest of the carcass I skin, remove the legs & thighs (braise) and the back (stock).

edit: forgot, make sure to save the heart, liver and gizzard. pan fried in butter, chefs treat.

this is one of the dishes I made for the wife for valentines.

it is an Asian 5-spice duck breast with citrus lemon grass risotto & apricot relish.

gallery_54013_6534_676.jpg

Edited by sp1187 (log)

respect the food, something died to provide

Lotto winner wanna-be

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