Pheasant Hunting photo

After a November that felt more like September in terms of temperatures, much of the country finally got a blast of cold weather this past weekend, along with heavy snow for some of the upper Midwest. Weather like that just begs for some hearty meals—the kinds that slowly cook all day long filling the house with the savory aroma of simmering meat. The list of perfect winter meals is nearly endless, but here are five to try with the wild game in your freezer.

Caribourguinon: It’s kind of hard to believe I’ve been contributing to the Wild Chef blog for more than two years. One of the first recipes I shared was my wild take on beef bourguinon (shown above) using a caribou I had killed just a few weeks before. It’s still a favorite go-to dish when I want something hearty, though I substitute deer, elk, or other venison now that I’m out of ‘bou.

Goose (or Turkey) Thigh Pot Pie: I always preach about saving the legs from your wild turkeys or waterfowl, and here’s the perfect use for them. Brown them in bacon grease and braise at 300 degrees for several hours until the meat shreds easily from the bone. Then mix it with some root vegetables and a hearty roux, top with dough (Pillsbury’s premade crescent roll dough is easy and delicious) and bake.

Venison Chili: Everyone has their favorite recipe, but take a snow day to experiment with some wild new ingredients such as chocolate chips, ancho chilies, or even a can of Coca-Cola.

Steven Rinella’s Hasenpfeffer: Author and star of the outdoor television show Meat Eater, Rinella hunts and eats all types of wild game, but one of his favorites is for hasenpfeffer. He shared that recipe with me awhile back and I have to admit, it’s pretty darn good served over a steaming pile of mashed potatoes.

Pheasant Mac & Cheese: There are tons of fancy macaroni-and-cheese dishes out there, and I’ve tried a lot of them—including some overpriced renditions in fancy restaurants and even one claiming to be the “World’s Best” at Beecher’s in Seattle. None compare to my mom’s mac-and-cheese, which is a pretty simple combination of macaroni, Velveeta, and milk. If she was feeling really fancy, she would add some cut-up hot dogs to the mix. Though I could never improve upon that recipe, I can give it some Wild Chef credibility with the addition of sautéed pheasant breast.

Pheasant Mac & Cheese

**Ingredients **
-Two pheasant breasts, cubed
-Two slices bacon
-2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
-¾ lb. Velveeta, cut into ½ inch cubes
-Approx. ¼ cup whole milk, warmed
-Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and pour off all but about 1 Tbsp. of bacon fat. Return the skillet to heat and add the cubed pheasant breast. Stir and sauté until just cooked through.

Bring 3 quarts of salted water to boil and add macaroni. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the macaroni and return to the heated pot.

Add the cubed cheese and milk a little at a time, stirring until the cheese is melted and pasta is well coated. Stir in the pheasant breasts, salt, and a lot of black pepper. Top with the crumbled bacon and enjoy.