December 16, 2010
Gift Guide: A Wild Chef’s Christmas
By David Draper
I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way I became the guy shopping for gifts the week before Christmas. So it stands to reason, I’m also the guy who gets his wish list to Santa late. Which maybe explains the lump of coal I find in my stocking every year. I mean, it couldn’t be because I’m naughty or anything. Right?
So, with just over a week left to get your shopping done, here’s a list of gift ideas for the Wild Chef in your life. Some I have and highly recommend, and others I would love to find under my tree on December 25:
Chef’s Knife: Like Uma Thurman, I prefer Japanese steel and since Hattori Hanzo is retired, I turn to Al-Mar. I’ve been using an Al-Mar Ultra-Chef Gyuto knife for about the last four or five years and don’t think I could go back to using a cheap knife. It’s scary sharp and takes an edge well. Worth the investment.
French Skillet: A French skillet is a good compromise between a straight-sided sauté pan and traditional frying pan. I currently use a 10-inch, non-stick Anolon pan, but I’d love an All-Clad 11-inch version.
Cookbooks: There are a lot of good cookbooks out there, any of which that would make a great gift. Joy of Cooking and How To Cook Everything are great reference tools. I’d love to find a copy of Eileen Clarke’s Slice of the Wild or the L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook under my tree.
Boning Hooks: I’ve wanted one of these cool little tools ever since my advanced course in deer processing from Gary the Meat Cutter. Pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to wield them as deftly as Gary, but if nothing else I can walk around the butcher shop talking like a pirate.
Foodsaver Quart Bags: Like socks and underwear, this is one of those gifts you’re kind of disappointed in getting, but know you really need. Plus, I swear, the local Cabela’s is out of stock every time I go in there, so I always try to have plenty of quart-size bags on hand, especially during hunting season.
Cook’s Country: While Cook’s Illustrated provides a master’s-level education, this country-fried version from “America’s Test Kitchen” is one of my favorite references. I’m constantly adapting recipes from Cook’s Country for use with wild game. A subscription makes a great gift.
Pizza Stone: A friend raves about the pizzas he makes on his Big Green Egg, so I want try my hand at them on my trusty grill. Weber makes a kettle-specific version , but I think any inexpensive pizza stone, like this one from Bialetti, would do.
Lump Charcoal: I’m going to get a lump in my stocking anyway, so might as well put it on my list. Maybe this year I’ve been bad enough for a 20-pound bag of hardwood charcoal from Cowboy Charcoal.
Hamburger Press: After years of borrowing a buddy’s, I finally broke down and bought my own hamburger press. This is great for venison burgers that come out assembly-line perfect every time.