A few weeks ago I spent a day job shadowing a meat cutter at Peppers and More Smokehouse, a local custom meat processing (and more) shop in Paxton, Neb. Ron Jay, owner, butcher, handyman and jack-of-all-trades, processes more than 200 deer during the Nebraska seasons, much of which end up as deer bacon.
I’m currently in love with this bacon, which is made from the roasts cut from the hindquarters. And I don’t mean a flowers-and-feeling kind of love. I mean the kind of love that goes on behind locked doors. In fact, you should probably establish some kind of “safe word” before you try this wonderful new way to enjoy venison.
Tomorrow I’ll do a lot of things. I’ll cook, snack on homemade party mix, and watch football. I’ll drink beer, sneak in a nap if I’m lucky, and feast on turkey and potatoes and all the good stuff that comes with Thanksgiving. I’ll turn on a holiday movie, eat pie, and play a board game. I might smoke a cigar. I’ll probably have more pie. And I’ll definitely do the dishes, gladly.
Before I make myself out to be a some kitchen martyr—the patron saint of dish soap and sponges—I should point out that there won’t be a ton to clean up because there’ll only be four of us at Thanksgiving: my fiancée, her sister and her boyfriend, and me. As long as we clean up throughout the day as we cook, it should be a pretty simple chore at the end of the meal, which is more than I can say about the inevitable post-meal mess at my Mom’s house back home in St. Louis.
In my family, there’s not a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding holiday meals. After Grace, we just tuck into the meal with some abandon. To better facilitate a ravenous family, the turkey usually comes pre-carved to the table, cut up in the kitchen by mom while the rest of us bounce from beer fridge to relish tray, waiting for the call to the table.
Not so in many other households, where the turkey comes to the table with all the fanfare such an honored guest deserves. Apparently, from the links available on-line, there’s much to be learned about the proper way to carve a turkey and lots of trepidation about this time-honored Thanksgiving tradition.
If you read only one thing this week (other than Field & Stream), read this story from Richard Rodriguez at Saveur magazine. Richard’s heartfelt article recounts the memory of his father’s refried beans and how those flavors represent not only the history of the man, but the history of the Rodriguez family.
Thanksgiving, more than any other occasion, is a celebration of food, family, and friends. It’s a great time to be thankful for the food that’s sustenance for your soul, the food that makes you who you are as a person.
After a cold morning walking the canyons for mule deer, I like to warm up with a good hunter's breakfast made better with the addition of venison bacon, fresh from the smokehouse. If I were to get it at a diner, I’d like to think the cook would be given an order that sounds something like this:
Since Field & Stream.com is apparently now a music site, as well as an outdoor site, I’ll add my two cents. On this day last year, I cooked a birthday dinner with eight women in attendance. While eight women does sound like a pretty good present to me, unfortunately it wasn’t my birthday, it was T. Rebel’s. So, I just cooked the dinner (elk three ways, mac n’cheese and a Caesar salad) and left the house to have a beer and burger at the Hangar Bar.
I did leave the girls with a playlist for their dining enjoyment. T. Rebel has eclectic musical tastes with alt/outlaw country at the center of it all, so the playlist weighed heavily in that arena, with some other fun stuff mixed in. The list is 42 songs and nearly three hours long, so I’ll just give you a Top 10 of sorts, in no particular order:
I snuck out last Thursday with my buddy Brian of Platte River Goose Control for a quick waterfowl recon mission. It was our first hunt of the season, and we wanted to work out the kinks before the geese arrive en masse. We also hoped to introduce ourselves to a few of the local Canadas via some 3-inch No. 2s, but all we did was get cold and wet thanks to a heavy snow. We did see plenty of ducks, however, and managed to scratch one drake mallard apiece as they swarmed into the cornfield.
Here’s a backstrap from an Illinois whitetail just before it goes on the grill. I rubbed it with my favorite seasoning and then let it rest for a bit. The next step is adding to the cool side of the Weber with some hickory or mesquite smoke, finished for a few minutes over direct heat to get a good crust.
I don’t typically watching cooking shows, but I had to stop on something called The Best Thing I Ever Ate where celebrity cooks recount their favorite meals. I can’t narrow down just one thing that was the best, but there have been some memorable eats in my life. From time to time, I’ll recount a few of them for you here.
Given the number of comments on David E. Petzal’s recent Gun Nut post reviewing the Work Sharp knife sharpener, everyone is looking for a quick, easy way to keep their blades shaving sharp. I’m no different. Not too long ago, I splurged on a Chef’s Choice 112 three-stage sharpener, which I use to keep an edge on everything from my paring knife to my skinning blade.