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  • April 18, 2014

    Do You Forage for Wild Foods?

    By David Draper

    This time each year renewed interest in foraging pops up like a mushroom in the woods. In fact, the morel is probably responsible for all that chatter about finding your own food, as April generally marks the start of the season across much of the country. It’s also when a lot of hunters are in the woods hunting turkeys, so there’s a natural convergence of people and wild food happening anyway. According to this article in the Austin Chronicle, there’s also a renewed interest in urban foraging:
     
    “Until approximately 12,000 years ago, when the first agricultural systems were developed, across every border and cultural divide, foraging was the predominant means of sustenance... The lost art is gaining momentum for a variety of modern reasons, including economic hardship, increased interest in sustainability and ecological well-being, and a desire to reconnect with nature and food.

  • April 16, 2014

    Wild Game Recipe: Try a Pickle Juice Brine

    By David Draper

    Like a lot of game meats, wild turkey gets a bad rap for being difficult to cook. Much of this negative reputation comes from the tendency of hunters to overcook their meat, but I’ll admit cooking any wild bird does come with a challenge. Wild turkey meat has a tendency to dry out quickly when subjected to high heat due to the limited amount of fat these birds develop. As I’ve written about recently, marinades don’t add moisture to meat like most people think they do. However, there is a technique that all but guarantees a moister end product, whether you roast, grill or fry your turkey – brining.

  • April 11, 2014

    Recipe: Making Bannock Bread at Camp

    By David Draper

    I’ve been reading a bunch of frontier history books lately, including Hampton Sides excellent Kit Carson overview, "Blood and Thunder." I’m always interested in what kind of vittles frontiersmen and explorers subsisted on as they pushed across the West. Certainly wild game made up an important part of their diet, but hardtack and bannock were also among the rations. While hardtack, a simple cracker made from flour, salt, and water, was much reviled, bannock bread was a welcome meal, and an easy one to prepare as long as some type of leavener was available. (Traditional bannock was often made without a leavening agent, but adding baking powder, buttermilk, or a sourdough starter made for a lighter, better tasting product).

  • April 11, 2014

    Stop Using Bacon. Seriously.

    By David Draper

    Of all the game-cooking myths and missteps I preach about, telling readers to stop using bacon is the most likely to start fights. Bacon is so popular and universally loved that I’m almost scared to bring it up because I’ll alienate all my readers, but it’s worth talking about, if only briefly.

    Ever eat duck breast wrapped in bacon? Or bacon-wrapped dove? Or anything game covered in bacon? What does it taste like?

    That’s right, bacon.

  • April 7, 2014

    All That Remains: How to Make Game Stock

    By David Draper

    One thing you can do to amp your kitchen credibility quickly is learning to make stock—a flavorful cooking liquid that forms the base of many soups, sauces, and other recipes. Making homemade stock from venison bones or bird carcasses not only give your favorite dishes, such as the duck pho in the photo, a flavor boost, but you’ll be get every last scrap of use from your bird or game animal.

  • April 4, 2014

    Wild Cocktail: How to Mix the Mallard Manhattan

    By Colin Kearns

    For a couple hours last Thursday afternoon, the entire 9th floor of our office building transformed into the biggest bar on Park Avenue when the various departments and magazine staffs here held a friendly competition—the Cocktail Challenge.

    The rules were simple: Each team had a $50 budget and was tasked with making or creating a cocktail for the employees in the company to drink and judge. After tasting all of the cocktails, employees were asked to vote for their one favorite. The team with the most vote wins. (In case you’re wondering, the sample sizes were all very small to ensure we could still walk at the end of the tasting. We are “professionals,” after all.)

  • April 3, 2014

    Would You Eat Fake Meat?

    By David Draper

    Despite a recent Austrian study reporting vegetarians suffer from poorer health and more chronic diseases—including allergies, cancer, and mental-health ailments—than us meat-eaters, sales of fake meat continue to rise.

    According to The New York Times, manufacturers are investing time and money into developing new vegetarian alternatives to meat and other animal-based food products as a growing number of consumers are demanding them due to “concerns over the impact of industrial-scale animal husbandry on the environment.”

  • March 25, 2014

    5 Tips for Venison Hamburger Steaks

    By David Draper

    Much in the same way minute steaks were an instrumental part of my family’s dinners, so too did hamburger steaks make a regular appearance on the plates of my childhood. Of course, they were almost exclusively served a la Salisbury style, smothered in onions, mushrooms and thick brown gravy. I’m not ashamed to admit my busy mom sometimes served us Salisbury steak Hungry Man TV dinners, which we quickly learned not to complain about.

    Like the minute steak, hamburger steaks somehow slipped out of my culinary ken until I stopped by my sister’s place a while back, and she and her husband were eating hamburger steaks simmered in chili beans and topped with salsa.

  • March 21, 2014

    Wild Game Recipe: How Marinades Really Work

    By David Draper

    For some reason, the go-to recipe for wild-game always starts with “Soak (insert game meat here) in Italian dressing for three days.” Seriously, how many times have you heard a hunter say this? This statement turned me off marinades for a long time and I have often mentioned on this blog I don’t use marinades. My stance on marinades has softened as I’ve come to value them for their ability to enhance the taste of wild game.

    One argument for using marinades is that they help tenderize tough meat. But this is probably the biggest misconception about using marinades, at least if you believe in science. According to a study done by Fine Cooking magazine, acidic marinades may, in fact, make meat tougher:

  • March 19, 2014

    Fat-Washing Whiskey is Apparently a Thing Now

    By David Draper

    Forgive me if I’m late getting on to the fat-washing bandwagon, but it takes a little while for hip trends like skinny jeans, ironic mustaches, and greasy drinks to reach those of us who choose to live out here in the sticks. Maybe you’re like me and never heard the term “fat-washing” before today, so let me try to explain it to you. The process involves taking perfectly good liquor and mixing it with some type of fat. Rugged folks use things like pork fat and bacon, while more subtle tenders of the bar opt for the oils of olives, nuts, and seeds. The grease-slicked spirit is then placed in the freezer where the fat solidifies so it can be strained of skimmed off the top, leaving behind a spirit infused with another layer of flavor. For a more detailed explanation of the process, check out this recipe for venison-fat infused whiskey over at Foodbeast.

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