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Wild Game Cookery


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Yeah, it's not uncommon for us to spear smelt in the 8-9 inch range although most are in the more usual 6-7 inch range. I selected some larger ones for that dish, although given the quantity of food we ate that night I should have picked smaller ones!

The reason I usually pluck the legs as well is for maximum versatility (skinless confit would be tasty, but not complete). Also, I am a poor enough hunter that I almost never have to worry about running out of time to pluck :)

That duck dish looks really good!

Although you wouldn't know it from the snow outside, word has it spring is here. Is there anything worth pursuing these coming months, or do most people sit tight until fall?

Martin Mallet

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

www.malletoyster.com

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My probable favorite wild duck recipe is simply the breasts. Having friends' boys who hunt, they keep me supplied.

Here's the simple braised version:

Soak fresh duck breasts in brine for 4-6 hours prior to cooking. Drain and rinse. Roll in flour seasoned with salt and pepper; brown in butter and olive oil, and then pour red wine in the saute pan to about half the thickness of the breasts. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, turning every 15 minutes or so, until wine is almost evaporated. Add beef stock to about 1/4 depth of breasts; simmer another 15 minutes. Remove breasts to warmed serving platter, increase heat and reduce sauce to a consistency to your liking. Slice duck breasts and spoon sauce over.

I serve these with roasted sweet potato wedges (tossed in olive oil, brown sugar, paprika and cayenne) and whatever green vegetable strikes my fancy that evening.

And because I'm near Stuttgart, Arkansas, the duck-hunting capital or the world, here's the World Championship Duck Gumbo Cookoff recipe. I replace the okra with celery because, much as I love fried okra, I don't like it in a soup or stew.

Broth:

5 to 6 ducks

2 large yellow onions, diced

2 large bell peppers, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

Water, to cover the ducks

Roux:

1/2 pound bacon

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil (if needed)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Gumbo:

Reserved duck broth

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped

2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons mango-tamarind spicy Jamaican pepper sauce (recommended: Pick-a-Peppa brand)

1 large package smoked pork sausage, diced and browned

Reserved chopped duck meat

1/2 cup finely chopped reserved bacon

1 package frozen okra, cooked to package directions, drained

1 pound raw shrimp, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons gumbo file

White rice and French bread, as accompaniment

Directions

Broth:

To a large stockpot, add the ducks, onions, bell peppers, garlic, bouillon, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and enough water to cover the ducks. Bring to a boil and cook the ducks for about 1 hour, until tender. Remove ducks and pull the breast meat from the bones and chop them into small pieces - use only the breast meat and discard the rest of the bird or save for another use. Strain the broth and save. Set aside the chopped duck breast and broth to use later.

Roux:

In a large, deep, black skillet or kettle, fry the bacon and sausage. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan. (Here’s where I added the saute-the-veggies step.) To the hot bacon grease, slowly add the flour, if the mixture is of a paste consistency, add more bacon grease or oil until it’s loose and easy to stir. Stirring constantly, flour-grease mixture should cook on medium heat until a dark caramel color is obtained. Add the salt and pepper and stir. As soon as the salt and pepper are stirred into the roux, add the remaining ingredients to make the gumbo.

To the hot roux, add broth, then the onions, peppers and tomatoes. Add the seasonings. Then add sausage, duck, bacon pieces and okra. Next add the shrimp, cook until shrimp is pink. Finally, add the gumbo file and stir. Let gumbo simmer for about 1 hour. The longer it simmers, the better it gets.

Serve over white rice with hot French bread.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Last post for today: I just can't resist.

This is a true Southern dish, one familiar from my childhood: Squirrel and dumplings.

Cut squirrel bite-sized chunks. Boil the carcass with salt, pepper, onions, garlic to make broth, strain, and keep warm.

Roll squirrel bites in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, saute over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add water, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or so. Make your favorite dumpling dough -- I tend to use regular pie crust dough, although you could certainly make spaetzle. Bring squirrel broth to a boil over medium-high heat, and poach dumplings. Add cooked dumplings to squirrel in saute pan, and add enough broth to make a creamy gravy to cover.

You can also use the same preparation with rabbit. It would probably work with venison, although I've never tried that.

Serve with fresh biscuits, butter and sorghum molasses, and you have a genuine West Tennessee hills dinner.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Today, my friend came down to the lab looking a little more excited than usual. A friend had spotted a fresh roadkill deer on the way to work! We agreed that if she saw the deer on the way home we would rush over to the scene and salvage what we could (of course, documenting everything for educational purposes). A quick scan of Ontario hunting boards revealed the unlikeliness of this situation: apparently, the Ontario Provincial Police actually keep a phone list of people they can call to salvage deer and moose that get reported! Sure enough, it was gone on the way home...

Martin Mallet

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

www.malletoyster.com

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Today, my friend came down to the lab looking a little more excited than usual. A friend had spotted a fresh roadkill deer on the way to work! We agreed that if she saw the deer on the way home we would rush over to the scene and salvage what we could (of course, documenting everything for educational purposes). A quick scan of Ontario hunting boards revealed the unlikeliness of this situation: apparently, the Ontario Provincial Police actually keep a phone list of people they can call to salvage deer and moose that get reported! Sure enough, it was gone on the way home...

What does the OPP or their operatives do in this case? Can you describe a deer salvage? Death by SUV is different from a shooting.

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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My understanding is that the driver involved in a roadkill in Ontario has dibs on the carcass. After that, the OPP often takes care of finding someone to salvage the kill.

From the Ontario Out of Doors forum's "Would you eat roadkill" thread (stumbled on through Google):

I hit a bear a few years back, and it was left wounded on the side of the road. Fearing that it was hurt and dangerous, I left and called the OPP. When I came back, my bear was departing in the back of of a pickup truck. The officer said to me "I hope you don't mind but I called my cousin, he likes to eat bear?" I laughed it off, but in reality I wanted it for the freezer!!
I know a father and son that get regular calls from the local OPP whenever there is a deer/vehicle collision, to see if they want to come and get the deer. They told the local detachment to call them whenever the need arises. I believe the OPP give them some sort of police report to show how they came into possession of the animal, and notify the MNR (as required by law).
To get a road kill up here your name has to be on top of the OPP call list. Mine is getting closer every kill.

And it goes on. I guess there's a whole network in place! In Alaska, salvaging roadkill moose is very common, and the state police keep lists of local charities to whom the meat is donated. Once you have received a kill, your name goes to the bottom of the list, thus ensuring fair distribution (it is a public resource, after all).

I have no idea what the practical etiquette/rules are like. For example, if my friend and I showed up at a deer carcass and part way through salvaging, some other people show up and claim they were called in, would we have to cede our prize?

As for the actual salvage, I have zero experience dressing anything larger than a porcupine, so I can only speculate. As far as I understand it, you basically just carve off the chunks of meat that haven't been destroyed by the collision. If you're lucky, the animal will have been struck in the head, in which case you can proceed as normal. I think the exact details of the procedure highly depends on the nature of the kill and the age of the carcass.

Martin Mallet

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

www.malletoyster.com

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  • 5 months later...

Last night was the launch of my annual return to cooking wild game each fall. I've been nervous about the availability of wild game this year. I had been visiting the D'Artagnan website regularly since mid-August and the wild Scottish game I enjoy every year was listed as "out of season." I was worried that I had missed the season or that something had happened to the supply of wild Scottish game birds. When I returned to the D'Artagnan site earlier this week I found that the availability of wild game had returned, so I quickly ordered, among other things, a wild Scottish grouse.

The Scottish birds procured by D'Artagnan roam free in the Northern Highlands and are harvested during weekend hunts on private estates. As you can imagine, wild game from Scotland, hunted naturally and then processed and shipped to the U.S. within two days of the hunt, are not cheap. D'Artagnan currently lists the wild Scottish grouse at $43.99 per bird. But if you are a gourmand with a taste for wild game, and it's a once-a-year treat, then I certainly think the flavor is worth the cost.

The grouse are delivered fresh:

gallery_41580_6783_23281.jpg

The wingtips are cut off the bird and the heart and liver are left inside the cavity. I would have used the liver, but it was terribly small and I had other plans for using another form of poultry liver in the dish. You do need to carefully go over the bird before cooking as there tends to be feathers and pin feathers that need plucking. As evidence that the grouse was harvested by the hunt, be careful of the buckshot:

gallery_41580_6783_13195.jpg

I seasoned the cavity with salt, pepper and sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano. Since wild birds have little fat, slices of bacon simply placed on top of the breasts add fat during cooking to keep the birds moist. I typically leave the bacon on for the first half of the roasting process and then remove the bacon during the second half of cooking so that the skin can get browned. NOTE: wild birds have very thin skin so while it will brown, it won't necessarily get "crisp" like the skin of a domestically raised duck.

Here is the grouse ready for about 20 minutes in a 450 oven:

gallery_41580_6783_29877.jpg

I served the roasted grouse whole, accompanied by a Huckleberry Compote. If you've followed my posts, you know that I savor the wild Northwest huckleberry as one of nature's most rare and delicious berries--a berry that grows wild and has to be harvested by hand. The huckleberry is one of the staple foods of bears, yet I imagine that grouse, partridge, chukar and quail most likely find the berry a source of energy. This year's crop of huckleberries was sweet yet tart, uniquely fragrant and the perfect accompaniment to the rich dark meat of the grouse:

gallery_41580_6783_19935.jpg

gallery_41580_6783_36223.jpg

I decided to do a take on the traditional dish of roasted grouse served on a crouton spread with a pate made from the bird's liver. In addition to the grouse, my order from D'Artagnan included Foie Gras Mousse with Black Truffles. The plan was to serve little "Foie Gras Sandwiches" with the grouse.

I used a biscuit cutter to cut small rounds out of a loaf of homemade white bread. The bread was very light, almost like a feather pillow. When I pushed the cutter through the bread, it sort of crimped down on the edges, forming the little rounds into the shape of a macaroon cookie. While unintentional, it worked out beautifully as the rounds of bread made for perfect little "sandwiches" to serve with the grouse:

gallery_41580_6783_20489.jpg

The grouse was delicious, and the huckleberry compote is probably what I would call my "signature" recipe. But those little sandwiches, toasted in butter and holding Foie Gras and Black Truffle were fabulous. And when I topped the "sandwich" with a spoon of the huckleberry compote, I found what I think I'll call my second-best "signature" recipe.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Wow, that looks fantastic! How big are scottish grouse compared to, say, ruffed grouse (or perhaps blue grouse, which I think are more common on the west coast)?

The Scottish Grouse average 10 to 14 ounces each. One bird will easily serve one person. I haven't had domestic American grouse, but from what I've learned, the wild Ruffed Grouse from the West are slightly larger than the Scottish birds.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're starting to build up our wild edibles inventory for the annual game dinner. We had one good day of Canada goose hunting, which yielded us 5 geese (without any decoys or calls, mind you), and we're planning to up the ante on the small mammal front in the next few weeks.

So far, we have:

-4 Canada geese: breasts, legs, and carcasses separated

-2 ruffed grouse: boneless, skinless

-Deer: I believe it's some pieces of an old-ish buck

-2 mallards: whole

-2 wood ducks: whole

-2 squirrels: whole

-1 large halibut fillet

-1 sockeye salmon fillet

-dried morels and chanterelles

-sour cherries, and raspberries

We may be getting some bear and/or moose meat from friends, and we're hoping to add some other small game (rabbits, more squirrels, etc..) to the total before we're done. We're not likely to do the dinner until after New Year's, so lots of time to gather further and plan.

Any ideas?

Martin Mallet

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

www.malletoyster.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Scottish Grouse are really a subspecies of Willow Ptarmigan that doesn't turn white in winter. They are a dark meated bird as opposed to the Ruffed Grouse that is white meated. Both are quite tasty, though many prefer the Ruffies because they taste more like chicken than Ptarmigan and all the other species of grouse do.

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We ate Mallard recently at a Manchester restaurant and as expected really enjoyed it. On the way to my mother in law to do a few jobs for her, we stopped at a butcher who supplies us with game to see if they had any thing of interest for me, and he came up with the above selection.

The Mallard and Rabbit we have cooked before, but not Hare, although we ate some casseroled with walnuts at Great Queen Street(restaurant) and it was wonderful.

My request is simple, any proven recipes for all, but especially for the Hare?

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Over here, hare hunters usually take out the back strap, skin, marinate and grill it, then slice into medallions for a snack on garlic toast. The rest of the beast goes to the dogs who caught it. (Oft times, the whole beast goes to the dogs because it was carried way too long in too warm weather to make it fit for human consumption. Coursing over here usually involves many hours of hiking in the high desert.)

In England, I've had great game pie, which included hare, pheasant and veg, with gravy in a crust.

I just looked in my copy of The Millenium Coursing Cookbook, because I remembered it had a recipe for "Jugged Hare":

1 hare (jointed)

1 t flour

2 carrots

1 large onion, sliced

10 oz red wine

Extra stock if needed

Salt, pepper, bouquet garni

Put hare in large, ovenproof casserole dish

Add veg, seasonin and wine

Marinate for 12 hours, turning joints of hare at least once

Add extra stock, if necessary

Cook in slow oven for 8 hours or until tender

Thicken gravy with flour and adjust seasoning to taste

Serve with redcurrant jelly, forcemeat balls and game chips

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Thanks for that, especially the insight to your locale.

Considering Hare was a commonplace sight(not so much now) in the English countryside there are not so many recipes for it

Was really a bit surprised by the size of it in relation to the butcher holding it aloft, it will easily feed four or more hungry people.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Considering Hare was a commonplace sight(not so much now) in the English countryside there are not so many recipes for it

Before the coursing ban, there were many estates in the midlands where hare were carefully conserved. On the day the ban went into effect, farmers in the area shot many hundreds of them. I was astounded by the numbers of hare we saw at Altacar and Swaffham from 1998 to 2005. Not anymore. :-( I assume the one you bought was shot or trapped.

Was really a bit surprised by the size of it in relation to the butcher holding it aloft, it will easily feed four or more hungry people.

Yep. They far different from rabbits. And, what you see in England are brown hare. They are small in comparison to the Western blacktail jacks we have over here.

I think there aren't many recipes because they are typically just cooked in a simple stew or braise, with whatever veg is at hand. It's important to marintate the meat and use wine or ale/stout in the braising liquid.

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Hare Biriyani is good. I made this last year and enjoyed it. My wife isn't a hare fan, so unfortunately I don't get to cook with it often.

http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/594473

Wild rabbit I find dries out very easily. I like it marinaded with thyme, garlic, rosemary and olive oil and then barbequed. Another favourite is to combine garlic, paprika, tumeric and cumin - rub into jointed bunny and leave for an hour or so. Fry some onion, then add a few sliced preserved lemons, add bunny and some stock. Lid on and cook gently for about 20 mins. Serve with couscous.

Mallard. I like plain and roast with all trimmings - bread sauce and game chips. Last week I confited the legs, fried the breasts, served with caramellised chicory and carrot puree (500g finely chopped carrots cooked in their own steam with star anise and tarragon, then add juice of 6 oranges and cook hard to reduce the liquid. Blend and push through a tamis). Veggie ideas nicked from Aiden Byrne's book - which he serves with roast Mallard.

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Assuming hare is the same thing as a jackrabbit, I've used the recipe for Rabbit with Sichaun Pepper from "Land of Plenty" by Dunlop with good success. I debone them and brine the meat overnight first. John Folse's "After the Hunt" is kinda a bible down here on game and he has several pages of rabbit recipes, all of which work for hares. The Spanish rabbit is really good. We often add either jackrabbit or cottontail to gumbo, and if you like okra I can post that recipe for you.

Kevin

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That's really cool! I see that Spruce Grouse is more closely related to Willow Ptarmigan than it is to Ruffed Grouse. I've eaten Spruce Grouse before, and it is also dark meated, probably not entirely unlike Ptarmigan. The individual I sampled had probably been eating conifer needles, since it had pronounced but not unpleasant spruce undertones. The only other grouse species I've had is Blue Grouse, which was intermediate in color between Ruffed Grouse and Spruce Grouse. Ruffed grouse is actually my least favourite of the bunch (being very relative, since they're all delicious), precisely because it is the least distinctive.

Martin Mallet

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

www.malletoyster.com

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Assuming hare is the same thing as a jackrabbit, I've used the recipe for Rabbit with Sichaun Pepper from "Land of Plenty" by Dunlop with good success. I debone them and brine the meat overnight first. John Folse's "After the Hunt" is kinda a bible down here on game and he has several pages of rabbit recipes, all of which work for hares. The Spanish rabbit is really good. We often add either jackrabbit or cottontail to gumbo, and if you like okra I can post that recipe for you.

Kevin

Thank you Kevin, I would very much like to read that recipe, when you get chance.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Hare Biriyani is good. I made this last year and enjoyed it. My wife isn't a hare fan, so unfortunately I don't get to cook with it often.

http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/594473

Wild rabbit I find dries out very easily. I like it marinaded with thyme, garlic, rosemary and olive oil and then barbequed. Another favourite is to combine garlic, paprika, tumeric and cumin - rub into jointed bunny and leave for an hour or so. Fry some onion, then add a few sliced preserved lemons, add bunny and some stock. Lid on and cook gently for about 20 mins. Serve with couscous.

Mallard. I like plain and roast with all trimmings - bread sauce and game chips. Last week I confited the legs, fried the breasts, served with caramellised chicory and carrot puree (500g finely chopped carrots cooked in their own steam with star anise and tarragon, then add juice of 6 oranges and cook hard to reduce the liquid. Blend and push through a tamis). Veggie ideas nicked from Aiden Byrne's book - which he serves with roast Mallard.

Can we come round your place for a meal, sounds like fun :laugh:

Thanks for the advice.

Agree about the rabbit, we had it with prunes last time and the recipe was way over on cooking time,we are cutting down on that next time.

Funny you should mention Aiden Byrne's book, I have it but not cooked anything from it yet, will have a closer look at it now.

Atul Kotchers dish looks interesting, may give that a go

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Thank you Kevin, I would very much like to read that recipe, when you get chance.

Rabbit Okra Gumbo

4 cups rabbit or hare boned

2 cups large shelled shrimp*

1 pound sliced andouille (we make our own from venison)

1 cup ghee or oil

1 cup flour

3 cups "trinity" (egual mix of chopped bell pepper**, celery, and onions)

1/4 cup garlic minced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 bunch sliced scallions

3 quarts chicken stock or water

4 cups sliced gumbo

2 tbsp file (optional)

1 tbsp white pepper

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp cayenne***

salt to taste

Make the ghee and flour into a dark roux. Add trinity and garlic and cook until soft. Add sausage and rabbit and brown for about 10 minutes. Add mixed peppers. Add the stock and brong to a simmer for 2 hours or so. Add the okra (I use frozen 'casue I'm lazy), scallions, and parsley. Cook 5 minutes or so, add shrimp, and then salt. Adjust liquid and flavor (I normally use Tabasco for heat). Serve over steamed rice.

This is actually a lot more formal than it is. We kinda use this to clean out the frig. So it varies. The constants are normally the peppers, the trinity, the okra, and some kind of sausage.

* you can use oysters or fish too. Or a mix.

**I mix red and green for color

*** adjust pepper to taste. We use 2 tbsp cayenne and add 1 Tbsp chipolte too.

Let me know if you try it,

Kevin

BTW you can find the sichuan rabbit here:

http://blog.technogypsy.net/2008/01/03/rabbit-with-sichaun-peppercorns.aspx

Edited by heidih
Fixed quote tags (log)
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There are some excellent recipes for rabbit/hare on this site:

http://www.bowhunting.net/susieq/rabbit.html

Hasenpfeffer is my "go-to" recipe for rabbit or hare, particularly the wild rabbits from the Sierras as they are actually hares. (I know a lot of hunters whose wives are not fond of preparing game or don't know how (and don't want to learn :laugh:).

So in exchange for me doing the prep, I get part of the bag.

I've been preparing it for 50+ years and have no written recipe but the closest to mine is this one:

http://www.germanculture.com.ua/recipes/blmain13.htm

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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David

Of course, you won't be able to find proper andouille sausage here in the UK but what you're after is a smoked sausage. I've used the ones made by Mattesons and always available in the supermarket. Yes, I know you would normally rather starve than eat Mattesons but it does work for Louisiana dishes (I've also used it for a Carolina "low country boil" but that's another story)

John Hartley

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