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  • February 28, 2011

    When is a Paella Not Really a Paella?

    By David Draper

    This may be a picture of a paella I made the other night, although the purists among you would argue that no, it is not. You see, paella is dish Spanish in origin that traditionally calls for, among a host of other things, paprika. And paprika, I discovered in the middle of preparing it, was something I did not have on hand. The most confounding thing is, I did have the other, and most, essential ingredient in my cupboard.

    Saffron – a spice so expensive it requires a small personal loan to purchase just a pinch of it, is a luxury my meager salary doesn’t typically allow me. However, to do paella right, you have to have it, so I made a special trip to town to pick it up, along with a couple of peppers, which I was also lacking. Had I been smart enough to consult my spice rack before my shopping trip, I would have realized the last of the paprika had been used on a batch of deviled eggs awhile back and never replaced. So I found myself elbow deep in rice and stock with none of the smoky spice within reach.

  • February 25, 2011

    Food Photo Friday: Venison Three Ways

    By David Draper

    by David Draper & Colin Kearns

    From Colin: For dinner last Friday, I followed a tip from Whitetail 365 blogger Dave Hurteau and made a venison cheesesteak. The sandwich was so amazing, so damn delicious that I made another for lunch on Saturday. Here is Hurteau’s technique:

    Take a hindquarter cut—bottom round, rump, what have you. Slice a couple of thin steaks off it. Pound the hell out of them with a mallet until they are very thin, just about falling apart. Get a frying pan very hot. Meanwhile prep a little onion and pepper and shred some cheese (I like pepper jack). Flash-fry the steaks so they are still a little rare, no more than a minute a side depending on how thick. While the pan is very hot, toss the peppers in and pour in a little water to deglaze. Put it all on roll with some A-1 and melt the cheese over the top in the broiler. That should do it.

  • February 24, 2011

    Recipe: Elk Potato Sausage (a.k.a. Elk Potatiskorv)

    By David Draper

    When a recent dinner party unexpectedly jumped from four guests to eight, I realized I was going to be a bit short on the elk sausages I planned to serve. In researching ways to stretch the fresh sausage, I came across several recipes for Swedish Potato Sausage. This traditional pork sausage is still quite popular in the U.S. among the descendents of immigrant Swedes, particularly around the holidays when specialty butchers stock their meat counters with Potatiskorv.

    Most recipes I’ve found call for equal parts ground beef, pork, and potatoes, with the addition of ground onions and salt and pepper to round it out. My adaptation swaps out the beef for elk (or any other venison), reduces the amount of pork to about half that of the venison along with an equal measure of potatoes. I’ve since made it with and without onions and prefer the latter, though both are delicious. A few recipes call for allspice, though I really like how this recipe lets the flavor of the meat be the star.

  • February 23, 2011

    Contest Results: The Best (and Craziest) Wild Game Chili Secret Ingredients Are…

    By David Draper

    Thank you to everyone who posted your favorite chili ingredients in our Wild Game Chili Secret Ingredient Contest a couple weeks ago. There were lots of great suggestions. Some of them made a lot of sense; others left me scratching my head.

    Probably the most insightful comment came from Hil, who rightly suggested the most important chili ingredient is time. I have to agree. Like delivery pizza, chili is definitely better the second day. And even better the third. I don’t know if it gets any better after that, as it never lasts that long in my house.

    Readers listed their favorite beer (including root beer!), while others, like rynodaug and db270, gave me inspiration with their addition of Kraft cheese powder and coffee. I also appreciated BWilliams and lbuhman for their suggestions of pumpkin and allspice, both of which I’ve been experimenting with lately in venison dishes.

    As for the winners, I decided to pick two: one for the craziest ingredient I’ve ever heard, and the other for the best chili adaptation.

  • February 18, 2011

    Food Photo Friday: Chorizo Burrito Edition

    By David Draper

    Whoever said breakfast is the most important meal of the day obviously meant something like this: elk chorizo burritos with eggs so fresh they're still warm from the sitting hen.

    Don’t forget to email your food photos to

  • February 16, 2011

    Should Chronic Wasting Disease Scare You From Venison Stock or Braised Shanks?

    By David Draper

    Here in the Nebraska Panhandle, I live smack dab in the middle of one of the original hotspots for Chronic Wasting Disease. It’s been a decade or so now since the news first hit around here, and it was a big topic of discussion back then. Nowadays, you don’t hear about it as much, though wildlife officials still ask for tissue samples when checking in deer and each year a few animals test positive.

    At first, no one was sure about eating venison. We were told not to saw through bones—especially not the spine—when butchering. Though there’s no evidence of CWD jumping to humans, we were still warned to take caution. I’ve pretty much followed that for the past 10 years even though it’s meant no roasting venison bones for stock and no braised shanks. Until now.

  • February 14, 2011

    Sourdough from Scratch: Baking with Wild Yeast

    By David Draper

    I’m happy to report that I’ve checked off two of the three resolutions listed in my New Year’s post. There are two cottontails in my freezer and a loaf of fresh baked bread on the counter. The bunnies were as simple as stepping onto the front porch early one morning with the Ruger 77/22 in hand. The bread has been a bit more challenging.

    Part of my bread-baking resolution was not using any commercial prepared yeast. Instead, I would bake my first loaf with wild yeast, captured in my kitchen with a slurry of flour, water, and honey set out as a trap. Not as simple as it sounds, at least not in the dead of winter when wild yeasts are least active. Still, after a few fits and starts, I had a bubbling bowl of what I hoped was an original sourdough starter. I named it Black Dog, after the mood these cold days bring and my preferred color of Lab.

  • February 9, 2011

    Contest: What’s The Secret Ingredient in Your Wild Game Chili Recipe?

    By David Draper

    by David Draper

    Perhaps more so than any other dish, chili is open to endless adaptations. Every hunter has his own secret ingredient for wild game chili, as well as idea of how chili should, or shouldn’t, taste. The beans-versus-no-beans argument is well known to anyone who has talked to a Texan about chili. But what about Cincinnati chili, which forgoes any type of chili powder or peppers and is served over spaghetti? As unusual as that sounds, it’s hugely popular in its namesake city, and I’m sure darn good. Admittedly, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it, but certainly wouldn’t turn down a bowl.

    Many folks have a set chili recipe they’ve perfected over the years, while others just wing it, experimenting with each batch. Some recipes are pretty standard fare, while others call for unusual ingredients. For example, in college I threw a fist full of white sugar into a batch of deer chili and have been doing it ever since. My good friend’s mother has a rather bizarre secret chili ingredient: chocolate chips. They give the chili a flavor that reminds me of Mexico. Others swear by a certain brand of beer.

  • February 7, 2011

    Paper or Plastic?

    By David Draper

    When it comes to preserving fish or wild game, there are a few schools of thought—the two most popular of which are wrapping in butcher paper or sealing in vacuum bags. I’ve done both and each method has its pros and cons.

    For years, I was a wrapper, mostly because I couldn’t afford a vacuum sealer and its pricey bags. I’d take my cuts or burger, roll them tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap them in a square of butcher paper, going from corner to corner and tucking in the side to form a tight and (hopefully) air-free package secured with masking tape. It was economical and, for the most part, kept my venison free of freezer burn. But it was slow and if the meat did start to turn white with freezer burn, I wouldn’t know it until the package was thawed and unwrapped.

  • February 4, 2011

    Football Food: Welsh Rabbit

    By David Draper

    Okay, I might be stretching the wild part of this dish since Welsh Rabbit (or rarebit) doesn’t actually call for rabbit as an ingredient, but it is delicious and makes a great, easy-to-create party food—and even better hangover food.

    Despite its misleadingly meaty sounding name, Welsh Rabbit is actually a simple cheese sauce made from a good aged cheddar, beer, and few other rotating ingredients. It’s typically poured over toast points, though for party purposes you can serve it with a side bowl of torn bread chunks or thick crostini. Keep warm over a low flame or in a slow cooker.

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