Kim Martin is an excellent hunting guide, a talented chef, and a very good friend. He rented a room from me one winter back when we were baby-sitting goose hunters west of Houston. To my good fortune, he would wander into the kitchen occasionally and create something delicious.
Martin seldom got first taste of anything he cooked and never got more than half. One afternoon, while I was out brushing a blind, he bathed a fresh whitetail backstrap in custom marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup dark beer
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
He buried the marinating venison in the refrigerator. The next day, as I slept off a mucky, 600-yard march with decoys and geese over my shoulders, Martin eased that tender cut into a hot oven.
When I awoke, the entire house smelled of sweet venison. I found the seared, medium-rare backstrap on a platter, surrounded by neat rows of crackers and thin slices of sharp cheddar…and a note: “I’ll be back later with my girlfriend. Do not eat this.”
Doorbell. Another guide, Tony Sappington, had come by to restring duck decoys.
“What’d he cook?”
“Backstrap, but there’s a note.”
Sappington studied the words, then smiled.
“So we won’t eat the note,” Sappington said, peeling back the plastic.
And we didn’t. We left it on the platter-on top of the last cracker.