Whitetail Hunting photo

We freeze for summer. Every fall, winter, and spring, as we cram the ice box with more big game, birds, and fish than we could ever eat in a year, we make a point to freeze a few special steaks and breasts and fillets. As bad as we might want to eat them at the time, when they’re freshest, we resist the urge and save them for later—for those times when we know we’ll crave them but can’t get them. We save them for times like summer.

Yes, we save them for summer because cooking and eating in summer is pure pleasure. We fire up grills. We gather with friends. We toss horseshoes and crank music. We drink cold beer.* And we feast on the fish and game we’ve been saving for all these months.

So, in the spirit of the season, we’ve collected our favorite Wild Chef summer recipes. You’ll find meals for venison, ducks, doves, fish, and just about anything else you might have stashed in your freezer. —Colin Kearns

*We understand that summer cooking’s thirsty work. So, stay tuned for our guide to the best summer beers later this month.

The Montauk Bluefish Burger


This is a great way to cook one of the ocean’s most underappreciated gamefish: Bluefish Burgers with grilled corn and old bay-rubbed grilled potatoes. Serves 4, difficulty is moderate, and it only takes about 30 minutes.

Deer Dogs with Pea Soup Sauce


Hunting camp is about the only time of the year when I can concentrate only on what I like without being disrupted. When I make a dish at camp, my secret is to keep the recipes simple. I never forget how tired a long day of hunting makes a man. I cook with what I have, while enjoying each moment. —Martin Picard, Au Pied de Cochon, Montreal

F&S Take:Pea soup never tasted so good. Trust us. As for the dogs, we used Italian-style venison sausages, which were delicious this way, but any type of sausage should taste great. Try bratwurst if you don’t have any made with fresh deer.

Doves From Hell


Coated in Habanero mustard sauce, these are definitely not the birds of peace. What makes these doves so spicy are the habaÑero peppers. On the Scoville scale (the standard measure for how hot peppers are), habaÑero chiles score between 100,000 and 350,000. A jalapeÑo ranges between 2,500 and 8,000. You can adjust the heat of this sauce by adding more habaÑeros to it. Two peppers will make it spicy. Eight will make it flat-out scalding. Simply combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Blackened Venison Steaks

with Bacon Mashed Turnips


What do you get when you put a pair of devoted hunters and anglers in charge of one of the country’s most storied restaurants? For game and fish easter, something like paradise.Ti Adelaide Martin is a managing partner at New Orleans’s Commander’s Palace, where Tory McPhail is the executive chef. Commander’s Wild Side (William Morrow; $30) is their sublime compendium of game and fish recipes that ranges from dove to mountain lion. Here’s one of McPhail’s venison favorites.

Pretzel-Crusted Walleye


Two midwestern staples—walleye and pretzels—come -together here in a fast dish that’s perfectly tailored for a lazy summer evening. Mustard keeps the crushed pretzels on the fish, ensuring a crispy crust. I like the brash, downhome simplicity of yellow mustard, but Dijon will add a bit of sophistication, and horseradish mustard a bit of heat.

Grilled Dove Pizza


Here’s how to cap off an adventurous day afield with an adventure at the grill. With its crispy, smoky crust, grilled pizza is a majestic thing, and this recipe cranks up that majesty by topping the pizza with an earthy combination of dove breasts, wild mushrooms, and sage. Your local pizzeria will usually sell you a round of raw dough, or use fresh or frozen store-bought dough to make life easy.

Grill-Roasted Fish on the Half Shell


This recipe, written by the magazine’s food columnist, Jonathan Miles, appears in the September 2010 issue. We used red snapper for the photograph, but Miles said just about any fish—crappie, perch, bass, mackerel, salmon, etc.—will work with this recipe.

“You ever clean a redfish?” asks Donald Link, the chef and owner of the stellar Herbsaint and Cochon restaurants in New Orleans, explaining the origins of his technique for grill-roasting fish that he calls “fisherman’s style” or “fish on the half shell.” Redfish are tough to clean, with big scales, so Louisiana anglers, like Link, tend to forgo the scaling, throwing a “side” of fish onto the grill and roasting it from the bottom up. But the technique isn’t limited to redfish.

Several years ago, at his family’s fish camp at Louisiana’s Toledo Bend Reservoir, Link conducted an experiment with some largemouth bass he’d caught. One fillet he cooked without the skin; another, skin on but scaled; and another, skin on and unscaled. “The difference in moisture was like night and day,” he says of the latter fillet, as compared with the first two. “The beauty of it is the simplicity. You can cook it outdoors, and you don’t even have to gut the fish. Just take off the side.” —Jonathan Miles

Braised & Barbecued Venison Ribs

with Homemade Pickles


For many, ribs on the grill ARE summer—but make them venison ribs from the freezer, jazz it up with some homemade pickles and you have a 4th of July spread that your friends will be talking about until Labor Day. CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE

Grill a Whole Fish, Perfectly, Every Time


The perfect way for an angler who loves to cook to show off his fish is serving it whole, fresh off the grill, with crispy skin and moist flesh. Problem is, that’s not usually how it happens. Here is how to grill a whole fish so it’s juicy, smoky, and beautifully intact.

Homemade Fish Sticks


For children, who are often unaware that their food ever existed outside its cellophane wrapping, there are few better lessons on the natural cycle of life than seeing a fish go from stream to table. One potential problem is reconciling that instruction with their finicky tastes. Here’s one solution: Turn your kids’ catch into that all-time childhood favorite, fish sticks. Nothing like finger food for teaching a noble and necessary lesson. Bring the kids into the kitchen for this recipe. (Just make sure they’ve scrubbed all the bait slime off their hands.) They can mix the tartar sauce and man the batter stations while Mom or Dad handles the frying. It’s a fun way to help them understand the whole process.

The Lake Erie Monster Sandwich


Melt Bar & Grilled, in the Cleveland suburbs of Lakewood and Cleveland Heights, has one specialty: grilled-cheese sandwiches. The menu presence of 26 variations on that humble childhood favorite—there’s even one stuffed with lasagna—is just one indicator of how far and wide owner Matt Fish is willing to take a grilled-cheese. Another: the Lake Erie Monster, in which a Guinness-battered walleye fillet is swamped in a gleeful mess of melted American cheese, jammed between thick slices of toast, and served with jalapeño-spiked tartar sauce. This is fish camp cuisine taken to its belt-loosening outer limits.

Ceviche as a Sushi Alternative


Ceviche (seh-VEE-chay) is a South American staple in which chunks of fresh, raw fish are marinated in citrus juices, then tossed with a variety of ingredients into a salsalike mixture that makes for a dazzlingly refreshing lunch. Sushi-phobes, relax: The citric acid firms up the fish so that, while still raw, it tastes and feels cooked.* Best of all, you can prep this the night before your trip: Squeeze the limes and lemons into one zip-seal bag, and put the chopped ingredients into another. All you’ll need to do then is catch the fish.