Back in the December-January issue of Field & Stream, my esteemed colleague T. Edward Nickens wrote a brief missive on his love for the duck sandwich. Nickens take on it included a butterflied duck breast grilled medium rare and pinched between two halves of a ciabatta roll dressed with sun-dried tomato spread. All in all, it sounds utterly delicious.
However, I have duck sandwich favorite of my own, one that takes more of a countrified—or maybe that’s country-fried—turn. Mine starts with one half of a skinned and filleted duck breast off the bone—generally mallard, though a widgeon shows up from time to time. Place that on a cutting board and drape a square of plastic wrap over the top. Now it’s time to tenderize. Some folks have a specially designed mallet or one of those fancy Jaccard tools (see below), but not me. I use the spine of a heavy butcher knife, chopping away in a cross-hatch pattern to break down the proteins and create a thin—about 1/8-inch—filet.
I’ve eaten a lot of great meals in the field—from my dad’s fried-egg sandwiches to breakfast burritos the size of my forearm—but it’s hard to top the prime rib I had marsh-side after a morning of gunning for ducks on the Great Salt Lake back in November. The memorable meal was cooked up by Camp Chef field chef Matt Anderson. Coming in a close second were the chili cheeseburgers Anderson’s co-worker Steve McGrath fired up from the deck of an airboat the day before.
Back in the late 1980s, I was wearing flannel before anyone even heard of Pearl Jam, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m at the forefront of food fashion as well, at least according to the Food Channel list of what food trends will be hot in 2013. In fact, I’m betting most Wild Chef readers are ahead of the trend that says smoking will be the next big thing in the restaurant scene. Firing up the smoker is just one of the many techniques we regularly rely on.
Over at Epicurious, it’s more of the same with their claim that the white-hot focus on all things below of the Mason-Dixon line will push even further south to Brazil, where churrascaria reigns. I will admit I was getting tired of food media hitting me with yet another recipe for the world’s best fried chicken and waffles, so reading about meat-centric Brazilian barbecue is definitely something to look forward to.
Goose pâté makes a great holiday appetizer, but unless you shoot a lot of geese or have a foie gras connection, it might be hard to come up with enough livers to make a batch big enough for a party. This ingenious recipe comes courtesy of goose hunter Klint Andreas (that’s Klint’s golden retriever Par in the photo). The recipe uses skinned and trimmed goose breasts in place of the livers. It makes a fine spread for your upcoming holiday’s parties.
Last week we threw our annual holiday party, which is always a great time because there’s always some great wild game cooked and shared from members of the staff. For this week’s Food Fight, we’re featuring all of the wild dishes from the party (as well as one dessert because, well, it features bacon and bourbon). Vote for your favorite.
After a November that felt more like September in terms of temperatures, much of the country finally got a blast of cold weather this past weekend, along with heavy snow for some of the upper Midwest. Weather like that just begs for some hearty meals—the kinds that slowly cook all day long filling the house with the savory aroma of simmering meat. The list of perfect winter meals is nearly endless, but here are five to try with the wild game in your freezer.
The higher ups at my former corporate job in the Human Resource department—in a misguided attempt to boost morale (that actually pretty much did just the opposite)—would call my coworkers and I into a big room each year and preach to us about our “hidden paycheck.” This was the term they used to talk about health insurance, retirement programs, and all the other benefits they provided outside our normal salary. One particular HR director (who, curiously, no longer works there) also included things like the horrible coffee and stale popcorn available in the break rooms as part of our hidden paycheck. Not surprisingly, those two words quickly became the standard meme in the building when referring to anything from toilet paper to Post-It Notes.
Well, here at my current job, I have hidden paychecks, too. In fact, we freelance writers have to live for the perks since we’re certainly not in this business for the money. As a guy who writes about food (among other things), I reap some pretty cool benefits (neither health insurance nor a retirement plan among them). There was that box of nut butter Justin’s sent me after they read my blog praising their products a few weeks back.
Fish or fowl? That’s the question we’re faced with this week as two Wild Chef readers face off with two great-looking meals. First up is Nick Granto, who submitted a super-simple, yet restaurant-worthy, pasta plate that has me lamenting the lack of salmon in my freezer. He’s facing Fozzie2 from New Hampshire with his smart and delicious use of a fresh duck breast for breakfast.
I’m always curious how other hunting omnivores defend their decision to not just eat meat, but also take part in the killing of that meat. There are many arguments to make—some valid and others just reactionary—but the one I gravitate toward is that humans are animals and hunting is simply the moral choice to participate within the natural ecosystem. To me, that is the simplest and most clear-cut answer. The counter point to that is modern man now exists outside that ecosystem, though I think most rational humans who have any understanding of agricultural systems would reject that argument. A soybean field may be less visually jarring than a clear-cut forest, but in reality there isn’t a lot of difference—the resulting monoculture is just a clear-cut prairie.
After what’s been a downright miserable summer, it’s finally hunting season. Well, almost. Sept. 1 marks the dove opener for much of the country, and I suspect a lot of you will find yourself with a sore shoulder come Saturday night. Hopefully you and your friends will also have a pile of doves to enjoy. This year, I challenge you to go beyond the classic (and admittedly delicious) bacon-wrapped dove breast. To help you do so, here is a list of five key ingredients to expand your repertoire.