One of the best presents I opened during the Christmas season (second only to a new pair of Vans and a bottle of Jameson Special Reserve) was a copy of Eileen Clarke’s Slice of the Wild cookbook, as I’d requested in my Christmas Gift Guide post last month. The book arrived Christmas Eve, a gift from F&S senior editor and frequent Wild Chef contributor, Colin Kearns.
Clarke, who has several cookbooks to her credit, doesn’t disappoint with Slice of the Wild. She is a hunter and writer who also happens to be married to John Barsness, no slouch himself when it comes to both woods and words. Together, the two of them put a lot of animals on the ground over the course of a year and, like many of us, live nearly exclusively on that bounty. That gives Clarke plenty of street-, or should I say woods-cred. She knows of what she speaks and does it better than most.
While I haven’t had time over the holiday season to dive into the recipe section with any real depth, I have poured over the first 50 or so pages of the book. This first quarter of Slice of the Wild is dedicated to the most important part of putting tasty wild game on the table: field to freezer preparation. Not only does Clarke go into great detail on the flavor profiles of the most common types of big game, she provides a great, easy-to-follow guide to breaking down and butchering animals. She also provides a top 10 list of tips to ensure a great end product, including an intelligent discussion on aging and a look at the effect rigor mortis.
Once you get past page 58, Clarke breaks down her recipes into sections by cuts, including everything from backstrap to brisket to burger, and most pieces in between. Throughout she includes tips highlighting the skills and science behind cooking, as well as recipes for wild side dishes designed to compliment the main course. Clarke relies a lot on marinades, which is something I just don’t do much of. I try not to cover up that rich wild flavor I like, but I’ll defer to her experience and look forward to trying many of the recipes in Slice of the Wild, including her Balsamic Parmesan steak marinade:
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 springs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
You can pick up a copy of Slice of the Wild, along with Clarke’s other cookbooks and books by Barsness here.