Thursday, January 7, 2010

That's the Name of the Game!

As I scan the website of my favorite meat purveyor, I see a bounty of untapped kitchen resources. Elk, venison, caribou, wild boar, turtle, goose, duck, squab, my heart skips a beat when I read these names on a butchers case or on a menu. Some of there richest, most dynamic flavors are found in wild game. While traveling the country for my last non-restaurant job, I got to experience many of these flavors personally. Antelope in Wyoming, Peccary in Arizona, Wild Buffalo in Montana, Elk in Idaho, Rattlesnake in Nebraska, Wild Boar in Tehachapi, CA, I will carry these flavors, textures, and smells with me forever.

Wild meat tastes of the habitat that it comes from. Venison from the desert will taste of sage, salt, and juniper. Bear (an omnivore) tastes of the last thing it ate, every time, you want bear that has fed on berries, not fish. Good bear is better than the best pork or beef that you've ever eaten, bad bear tastes like ammoniated diesel fuel. Elk from the forests and meadows of Oregon's Coast Range, is possibly the worlds best meat. Better than pastured beef, richer than lamb or pork, leaner and healthier for you than chicken, it is absolutely one of the best foods you can eat, from the standpoints of health and taste. Wild meat is just that....wild.

Most of you that read this know that I'm always an advocate of eating seasonally. Game is definitely the most seasonal of foods, and Fall and Winter are the times that it should be eaten. Find someone that you know that hunts, and enjoy these few recipes.


Elk Loin Medallions with strawberry-chili sauce:

2 pounds of Elk Backstrap, cut across the grain, 3/4 inch thick
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped
1/2 cup of strawberry preserves
2 thai chilies, chopped fine
1/2 cup red wine
olive oil

In a cast iron pan, Sear the elk medallion until rare/medium rare. Next, saute the shallots, chilies, and garlic in the oil. Add the red wine and strawberry jam. Reduce this mix by 25 percent. Add the cooked elk back to the sauce and warm through. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with roasted potatoes and sour cream.


Stuffed Venison Loin with Asparagus and Morel Demiglace

Morel Demi:
Three pounds of venison bones
1 onion
3 stalks celery
1 carrot
4 cloves garlic
4 oz dry morel mushrooms

Brown the bones at 450 for one hour. Add the bones to a large stockpot with the all the remaining ingredients except for the morel mushrooms. Cover with water. Simmer over low heat for 10 hours. Strain the stock and reduce by 3/4. The flavor should be very intense at this point. Set aside.

Venison Loin with Asparagus:

1 three pound Venison Loin
2 pounds of cleaned asparagus
10 strips of bacon

Make a cut in the side of the loin, proceeding nearly 3/4 of the way through. Lay two slices of bacon on the inside of the cut, and pack the rest of the cavity with the cleaned asparagus. Insert toothpicks to close the incision. Wrap the exterior of the loin with the bacon. Roast in a deep pan at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 140.

To finish:

Take your dried morels and rehydrate them for 15 minutes in warm red wine. Add these to your roasting pan. Add 2 cups of your venison demiglace to the morel/wine mix, and reduce by an additional 15 percent. Finish with 3 tbsps of butter, salt and pepper.

Remove the toothpicks from your roast, and slice into one inch segments. Ladle a little of the sauce over each portion, and you're done. Serve with Garlic-mashed potatoes.


Duck Florentine Salad

2 wild duck breasts
1 bag of washed spinach
1/2 dozen thin-sliced strawberries
1/2 cup walnuts and walnut oil
1 cup Basil leaves
Port wine
Sliced green onions
Salt and pepper

Season both breasts with salt and pepper, sear in a non-stick pan, and cook until medium. Slice thinly. In a separate pan, mix the walnuts, walnut oil, port, and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the spinach and torn basil leaves with the warm dressing, and separate into 4 servings. Top each salad with 1/2 a sliced duck breasts and sliced strawberries. Argyle Blanc De Noir is a brilliant pairing for this salad.


I hope you give Game an honest try. It can and should be a major part of living sustainably. It's use really does help keep our wild lands in balance. Bon Appetit!

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