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  • June 29, 2011

    A Six Pack with Hank Shaw, Author of “Hunt, Gather, Cook”

    By David Draper

    It’s been a few months since we had a Six Pack Q&A, and I think it’s time to revisit the series. Today, I caught up with Hank Shaw, wild-game chef and author of the blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. I truly believe Shaw is riding the leading edge of not only cooking wild game, but also foraging for wild eats from the land and sea. I’m a regular visitor to his site, where I’m always finding new inspiration for my cooking, even if I’ve never heard of half the ingredients he’s using. Shaw has a new book out called Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. He took time out of his busy book tour to answer six questions about how and where he finds his inspiration.

    FS: Your blog attracts a wide range of readers, from hunters looking for new ways to prepare game to people who have never picked up a gun, but are looking for a meaningful connection to their food. What do you attribute this diversity to and how do you keep them coming back?

    Shaw: I think I’ve been fortunate enough to attract a diversity of readers partly because I consider myself a cook who hunts, not a hunter who cooks. It is a subtle difference, but it’s there: I spend my time outdoors in search of nature’s bounty, and while I love the thrill of the hunt or a strike on a line as much as anyone, I’ll happily shoot a fat doe camped out on an alfalfa field over an eight-point buck; the doe will be better eating. Non-hunters appreciate that outlook, and statistics show that the vast majority of Americans support hunting for the table. And you know what? I think most of the hunters out there agree with me: They hunt to fill the freezer, and if they get a nice buck, that’s great, but it’s not the highest priority. That connection, from the field to the table, binds us all, hunters and non-hunters alike.

    There’s also another thing I think is going on: I came to hunting late in life, so I understand that hunting can seem weird and alien to an outsider. I address that in every hunting story I tell, and it helps non-hunters wrap their minds around the pursuit. What’s more, I’ve found that this approach has inspired lots of non-hunters, mostly foodies, to take get their hunter education certificate and learn to hunt themselves. That is deeply gratifying.

    What keeps them coming back? I stay busy. I am always experimenting with new cooking techniques—sous vide is my current favorite—and new ingredients. The number of edible wild plants out there to explore is virtually endless.

  • June 28, 2011

    Reader Suggestions: What’s the Best Way to Cook Halibut?

    By David Draper

    Though I’ve never really been a picky eater, when I was younger, fish was one of those foods I just didn’t care much for. I didn’t even like it fried, which is saying something since what kid doesn’t like fried anything?

    Luckily, now that I’m older my tastes have changed and now don’t mind the taste of fish a bit. However, all those formative years have put me at a severe disadvantage when it comes to cooking and eating fish. With the exception of a few basic dishes, I don’t have much experience preparing fish and lack a good repertoire of simple, tasty go-to recipes.

  • June 23, 2011

    Heartbreak: Is Your Freezer Running? Seriously. Go Check.

    By David Draper

    Do me a favor and stop reading this blog right now. Stop reading it and go downstairs, out to the garage or wherever it is you keep your deep freeze. Check to make sure it is running and everything inside is frozen solid. Do this and save yourself from the heartbreak I encountered today.

    What you see in the picture is about 150 pounds of rotten game meat, made up almost exclusively of last season’s Montana mule deer and my girlfriend’s Nebraska cow elk. At some point in the last 10 days or so, my second deep-freeze, the one I keep in the tank house, quit working. I discovered it just this morning, when I went to retrieve some meat for a belated Father’s Day party. In the bottom of the freezer was about half of an inch of blood and all the meat inside was completely thawed and showing signs of rot. At first, I talked myself into believing it was salvageable, but the overpowering smell and the near-instant arrival of a swarm of flies told me otherwise. With a bitter heart and a lump in my throat, I threw it all away.

  • June 20, 2011

    What’s Your Secret Ingredient for Wild Game Burgers?

    By David Draper

    Fresh off our Father’s Day grill-a-thon, its’ time to talk about burgers.

    Venison burgers, that is.

    Though I’ve been a bit too busy so far this year, I usually take a day to make up a bunch of burger patties to last me through the summer. Using my handy-dandy patty press and a stack of waxed paper, I set up a ground meat assembly line to create a meat-tub full of perfectly formed patties ready for the freezer. That way, whether I’m cooking solo or for a group of friends, I can have burgers ready in no time flat, with little-to-no prep time.

  • June 16, 2011

    Five Grilling Tips for Father’s Day

    By David Draper

    by David Draper

    If you think about it, there’s an interesting paradox in the way we celebrate our parents. On Mother’s Day, we take to the kitchen and make our Mom (or our children’s mom) a special breakfast, but come Father’s Day, Dad takes to the grill like it was just another summer evening. Sure, he might fancy it up with a really fine cut of steak, rather than the standard Sunday-night hamburger, but Dad still does the cooking.

    This Sunday, politely offer to take over grilling duties—though don’t be surprised if he doesn’t cede them so easily. There’s no small amount of pride in manning a fire and feeding the family, but pass Dad a cold one (or pour him a tumbler of his favorite bourbon) and make him a meal to remember. Just don’t forget these few basic tips.

    1. Before Sunday rolls around, check the level on the grill’s propane tank. More than one Father’s Day feast has moved inside when the flame dies halfway through. Better yet, reduce your dependence on foreign oil (okay, domestic natural gas), by switching to charcoal, because grilling over coals is just the right thing to do.

  • June 13, 2011

    Recipe: Grilled Flat Bread from Scratch

    By David Draper

    Since January, I’ve been learning all about baking, and while I’m still far from perfecting my techniques for a good loaf of bread, I’m getting comfortable enough that sometimes I go off the reservation. Last week, I made pizza on the grill and this past weekend, experimented with making a type of leavened flat bread, not unlike naan or a pita-type bread. It’s surprisingly simple and a great appetizer served with pesto, olive oil, or any type of summery dip—or with a main meal of venison shish kabobs. In my typical schizophrenic style, I studied a bunch of recipes, from tortillas to traditional naan, and came up with my own version, which, true to form, is imminently adaptable.

  • June 8, 2011

    What’s Your Favorite Steak Seasoning?

    By David Draper

    Last week on the Honest Angler blog, Joe Cermele crept into Wild Chef territory with a post asking readers what their favorite fish seasoning was. While this was just an excuse to show off his sweet Old Bay Seasoning tattoo, I still took it as an affront. So, before he get another tattoo of McCormick’s Meat Tenderizer, I want to get the jump on him by asking, what’s your favorite steak seasoning?

    For me, it’s hard to beat Jim Baldridge’s Secret Seasoning, which happens to be made just down the road from me in North Platte, Nebraska. Of all the seasoning’s I’ve tried, nothing comes close to complementing the flavor of wild game like Baldridge’s. I shake it on my backstraps, let them sit for an hour or so and then throw them on the Weber over indirect heat with a few hickory chips added for good measure. It’s my go-to meal when I’m cooking for guests and it never fails to draw rave reviews.

  • June 6, 2011

    Recipe: Braised Bear Shanks

    By David Draper

    Of all my bear meat, the shanks were my most prized cut. So prized, in fact, I didn’t even entrust them to FedEx. On the boat, we removed the knuckles of each end of the bone and cut each shank in half. After they were frozen, I packed them in my checked luggage and personally carried them home.

    (Traveler’s tip: Meat or game birds will stay (mostly) frozen on even long flights when wrapped in several layers of clothing and packed in your luggage. It’s a great way to bring small amoutns of meat home on a flight, provided it doesn’t put your bag over the ridiculously low 50 lb. limit.)

    Due to the amount of sinew shanks are laced with, they need to be cooked low and slow via a braise. I wouldn’t typically consider braising to be the most summer-friendly of cooking techniques, but luckily it was cold and wet the week before Memorial Day. Perfect braising weather. If you don’t want to heat up your kitchen, you might wait until fall to try this recipe, which works just as well with venison shanks (or beef, if you must). Or adapt it for the grill or smoker.

  • June 3, 2011

    Food Fight Friday: Wild Pulled Pork Sandwich Vs. Squirrel Pot Pie

    By David Draper

    I’d like to think this week’s Food Fight is going to be a good ol’ fashioned shellacking, by you guys always have a way of surprising me so I’m going to make no predictions.

    Pulled Wild Pork Sandwich

    Vs.

    Squirrel Pot Pie

  • June 1, 2011

    A Glass of Summer: What's Your Favorite Warm-Weather Drink?

    By David Draper

    Far be it from me to question the editorial staff of this fine publication, but I need to point out an egregious error on page 51 of the June issue of Field & Stream. The illustration accompanying John Merwin’s sidebar relating the perfect post-fishing cocktail – a gin and tonic, pictures a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. Anyone who knows John Merwin knows he prefers Beefeater, or in a pinch, Tanqueray.

    Personally, I’m a Sapphire man myself. The secret recipe of herbs and spices makes for a fine martini, though Merwin would beg to differ. We do agree on the perfect summer cocktail and though I wouldn’t admit it to him, Tanqueray does make a better G’n’T. Something about the Sapphire doesn’t quite jive with the quinine.