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  • November 15, 2013

    Food Fight Friday: Venison Pastrami Edition

    By David Draper

    It’s a cured-meat battle this week, as I pit my venison pastrami up against Wild Chef reader and frequent Food Fighter Justin Swope. If you haven’t tried making your own pastrami, I strongly suggest you give it a try as it’s incredibly easy to do—whether you go with a wet brine like Swope or a dry cure as I recommend. Either way, I can all but guarantee success.

  • November 13, 2013

    Apalachicola Oysters Becoming a Rare Treat

    By David Draper

    I spent this past weekend on Florida’s Apalachicola River for a hunting story you’ll find in Field & Stream next fall. When I asked my host there, a fish guide nicknamed Wood Duck, about picking up a bag of oysters before we headed upriver to camp, his reply was straightforward: “Man, oysters are getting scarce around here. And expensive.”

  • November 11, 2013

    My 5 Favorite Pies

    By David Draper


    CC image from Flickr

    A lot of people consider late summer the best time of year to bake pies, what with all the fresh berries coming on. But to me, pie season is November and December. Just consider how many pieces of pie you’re going eat in the next couple of months. To commemorate the coming crush of pies, here are my five favorites listed in no particular order.

  • November 8, 2013

    Food Fight Friday: The Snack Edition

    By David Draper

    I’m going to call this week’s Food Fight the Snack Edition. We’ve got some killer goose jerky from Pat Chapin against Chris Johnson’s elk tacos. I consider tacos a snack because I can eat about 179 of them at a time. Okay, maybe not that many, but such is my love for tacos that I routinely eat them until I’m nearly sick.

    Chris Johnson’s Chorizo Elk Tacos

  • November 6, 2013

    'Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game' Cookbook

    By David Draper

    If you have any interest in the culinary world at all, and I suspect you do since you are reading a blog titled Wild Chef, you probably heard that famed Chicago chef and restaurateur Charlie Trotter passed away yesterday. He was 54.

    Until it closed last year after a successful 25-year run, Trotter’s eponymous restaurant was a sort of mecca for both food-lovers and chefs. Even this country-bumpkin in western Nebraska had heard of the place and dreamed of dining there someday.

    What I didn’t know until doing a little research this morning is that Trotter also penned a wild-game cookbook called, not surprisingly, “Charlie Trotter’s Meat & Game.” A quick list of the recipes included shows that the book is right in the wheelhouse of all Wild Chef readers:

  • November 4, 2013

    Product Review: Carnivore Cutting Board

    By David Draper

    I’ve cut deer, fileted fish and cleaned birds and other game on a variety of surfaces, from flat rocks at waterside to flimsy plywood perched on rickety saw horses. Of all those, the best place I’ve found to butcher is the back of my truck.

    A truck’s tailgate, at least that of a late-model F-150, is the perfect height for me to skin and slice, either while standing or seated on a tall stool. I can usually cut an entire deer on a tailgate or clean a limit of ducks and geese without too much strain on an aging back, something I can’t say about most other locations. Of course, some folks might be lucky enough to have a dedicated space for butchering, or an understanding spouse who doesn’t mind blood, fur or feathers on the kitchen counter, but until I get either of these, I’ll stick with my Ford.

  • November 1, 2013

    Food Fight Friday: Venison Sega Wat vs Venison Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

    By David Draper

    It’s really easy to fall into a rut in the kitchen, especially this time of year when a lot of our time and energy is focused on the other kind of rut. So, this week I’m featuring a dish from the always innovating Levi Banks. It’s sega Wat, or lamb stew, with venison subbed in for the lamb. And, because I know some people are scared to veer of the culinary road and into the wilderness, Levi is going up against an American classic—the bacon cheeseburger, though this one comes in liquid form from reader Brad Smith.

  • October 30, 2013

    Judging the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue

    By David Draper

    Oct. 26 was the pheasant opener here in Nebraska. The end of this month also marks the onset of the whitetail rut in much of the country and offers some pretty good waterfowling for local ducks and geese. Yet, despite the abundant outdoor opportunities available this time of year, I’d encourage you to mark off the fourth Saturday in October on your 2014 calendar and make plans to attend the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn. That’s where I was last Saturday, judging the nearly 100 U.S. and international teams that had qualified for what’s known colloquially among barbecue lovers as, “The Jack.”

  • October 28, 2013

    Should We Start Selling Deer Meat?

    By David Draper


    CC image from Flickr

    In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jim Sterba, author of "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards Into Battlegrounds," placed a pretty good question to the public: "What explains the fact that we have a glut of white-tailed deer in this country, yet an estimated 85% of the venison sold in restaurants and at meat counters is imported from farms in New Zealand?"

    I think most of us understand the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and how it shaped the state of conservation in America. If it weren't for the foresight of a select group of conservationists banning the sale of free-ranging game for meat, the modern face of hunting would be much different, if there were any game to hunt at all.

  • October 25, 2013

    Food Fight Friday: Antelope Heart vs Venison Pepper Steak

    By David Draper

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