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The holidays are a terrific time to be an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman. Not only do we get the chance to celebrate the season with friends and family, we get to enjoy some of the last (and often best) hunting and fishing opportunities of the year and enjoy the fruits of someone’s successful outing. Preparing special-occasion wild-game entrées or appetizers is a great way to commemorate an adventure and relive the highs and lows with those closest to you. If you or someone you know are accomplished cooks in the kitchen or over a barbecue but are looking for ways to expand your culinary horizons, we can help. Here are a few ideas that should put a smile on the face of the wild-game chef in your life and help them take their repertoire to the next level. Who knows, you may even spy an item or two you’ll want Santa put your name on.
Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill
One of the greatest assets any wild-game chef worth their salt has at their disposal is a wood pellet grill. Not only do these cookers infuse food with a rich, smoky flavor, they don’t dry out meats, and they make it easy to experiment with recipes you wouldn’t normally try on a propane or charcoal grill—like pizzas, brownies, and homemade jerky. The latest model from Camp Chef, the Woodwind, takes pellet grilling a step further. Built with the same features that make Camp Chef grills so great, like an easy to empty pellet hopper and digital control panel, the Woodwind includes something other grills don’t—WiFi capability. Using the Camp Chef app, any wild-game chef can remotely change cooking temperatures, adjust smoke levels, set timers, or receive notifications when meat reaches a specific internal temperature. WiFi capability is available on the Woodwind 20, 24, and 36 models, and the app is available for both iOS and Android smartphones.
Epicurean Outfitter Big Game Cutting Board
Wild-game chef Jamie Carlson has been around his fair share of kitchen appliances and utensils over the years, so when he mentions products he’s liked and not liked, people listen. One item he has grown particularly fond of is the big-game cutting board from Epicurean. This 23½ x 14½-inch piece of wood fiber composite is tough as nails, nonporous, heat resistant up to 350 degrees, and the perfect size for customizing cuts of venison, waterfowl, pork, or upland birds. There is a trough around the perimeter to keep juices corralled, a carry handle, and best of all, it’s dishwasher safe, so there’s one less thing to clean up when the cooking is done.
Wilderness: An Ode to Newfoundland and Labrador
Every wild-game chef likely has one or more favorite cookbooks, but there are a few published from time to time that are instant classics. Wilderness: An Ode to Newfoundland and Labrador by Jeremy Charles might just be one of those books. Charles’ book examines Canada’s East Coast and its wilderness’ influence on the menu at Charles’ restaurant, Raymonds—the only restaurant to receive first place in Canada’s top 50 best restaurants in consecutive years. Replete with photos of the countryside, wildlife, and finished dishes, this cookbook contains 160 of Charles’ favorite recipes coupled with brief essays relating each one to the area’s people and landscape. Any serious wild-game chef would be happy to have this hardback among the rest of their favorites on the shelf.
Do you struggle to try to figure out what to get your favorite cook that’s fun, creative, and unique every year? If so, you’re not alone. Maybe it’s time to let someone else do the creative thinking for you. That’s Man Crates‘ specialty. Whether you know someone with a flair for barbecue cooking, a craving for jerky or bacon, or maybe an appreciation of fine whiskey, Man Crates has a custom-assembled gift package ready to ship. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Pit Master Barbecue Crate, which includes meat claws, wood chips, leather gloves, rubs, spices, and genuine Rufus Teague sauces, among other items. Man Crates even takes care of the gift packaging for you. Each collection is carefully arranged inside a real wooden crate and includes a laser-etched crowbar to make it easy to pry open on Christmas morning. If your shopping list is especially long this holiday season, check out other Man Crates specialty packages.
GrowlerWerks 64oz. Copper uKeg Carbonated Growler
The only thing better than preparing a wild-game meal is washing some of it down with a cold microbrew. Personally, I love sampling local beers wherever I go, and one of the best ways I like to say “thanks” to anyone inviting me over for dinner is to bring along a growler full of locally brewed suds. If you know someone with similar tastes, the uKeg Growler from GrowlerWerks might be right up their alley. The inside of this double-walled, vacuum-sealed container is made from food-grade stainless steel, the dispenser tap easily pours beer so you never need to remove the lid, and the tap is interchangeable so you can add a handle from your favorite brewery. But the key feature is the cap—it holds a Co2 cartridge that automatically regulates pressure to keep beer carbonated, from zero to 15 psi, which you can monitor using the attached gauge. This carafe can keep beer fresh for weeks, and it looks so much classier chilling in the fridge or on a counter than a bland growler jug.
Instant Pot Plus 60
When my wife pleaded with me to buy her an Instant Pot for our kitchen, I scoffed at the idea. I just didn’t believe there was some sort of “magical cauldron” that could prepare meals that normally take hours to cook, in a fraction of the time. Not only was I wrong, this little electric cooker took the place of so many other dishes and appliances and saved me from tedious dish duty at the sink. The concept is fairly straightforward and is the modern version of the heavy pot, lid, and “hissing” topper your grandmother used to use. This device regulates temperature, cooking time, and pressure electronically. There are preset settings for things like soups, stews, and meats, or you can dial in something custom. If there’s a chef in your life that doesn’t have an Instant Pot yet, put one under their tree and then get one for yourself. It works wonders with wild game and all sorts of other favorite recipes and concoctions someone might avoid because of long cook times.
J.A. Henckels 15-piece Knife Set
A good knife can go a long way in the kitchen, especially if someone is working with fine cuts of prized wild-game meats like venison tenderloin or elk backstrap. The key to a good knife revolves entirely around its construction—blades made with cheap metal won’t hold an edge for as long as a knife made with quality steel. J.A. Henckels has been creating some of the best cooking knives in the world for quite some time, and you’ll likely see models like their Santoku in any home chef’s knife drawer. You can help that home chef build their Henckels collection with the 15-piece Statement Knife Block Set. This no-frills collection includes a few specialty knives, shears, sharpening steel, and six steak knives, and it’s perfect for general tasks around the kitchen.
AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
While Instant Pots represent the latest and greatest in cookware, there are still some methods of preparing wild game you just can’t replace with technology. Since their inception, Dutch ovens have been a staple over the campfire, on the stove, and in the oven. Whether someone uses one to bake a dessert or assemble a stew, a properly seasoned Dutch oven can infuse just about any recipe with a flavor that’s tough to replicate any other way. The advent of enamel-coated Dutch ovens has made this style of cooking even more popular. Not only are these heavy pots easier to clean than their rough, cast-iron cousins, they make for a classy presentation on the table and retain heat so food stays warm and tasty long after its pulled from the oven or stovetop.
Bubba Blade Cordless Fillet Knife
If you know someone who has a steady hand when it comes to reciprocating blades, they’d appreciate the Bubba Blade cordless fillet knife. The non-slip, ergonomic handle fits comfortably in hand, and the entire unit weighs just over one pound, which is a lifesaver during those long fish-cleaning sessions. It also includes four removable blades, two lithium-ion batteries, and there’s an LED battery life gauge on the handle. The blades are stainless steel and dishwasher safe, and the package includes an EVA case to keep everything together and protected.
ChefSteps Sous Vide Cooker
The sous vide cooking technique originated in France in the 1970s, but it’s only recently gained popularity in the United States. The name itself means “under vacuum,” and the process involves placing whatever you’re cooking, be it meat or vegetables, into a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch or glass jar and lowering it into a carefully regulated (often between 130 and 140 degrees F) pot of hot water. That’s where a sous vide cooking tool comes into play. Using one of these devices, anyone can set the water temperature and keep it that way until the food is cooked. They’re extremely easy to use, and thanks to Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities, you can monitor your meal and make adjustments as needed from almost anywhere. If someone is worried about over- or undercooking wild game meat, or they simply want to expand their cooking skill set, sous vide cooking is certainly worth trying.
FireDisc Deep 36′ Backyard Portable Plow Disc Cooker • Price: $360 FireDisc
It’s not exactly a grill, and it’s not exactly a fryer, and it’s not exactly a wok—the FireDisc is a little bit of everything. Constructed from carbon steel, this wheel-shaped cooker can take anyone’s outdoor culinary skills to new heights. It’s lightweight, easy to transport, and easy to clean. But the greatest thing about the FireDisc is you can use it to cook just about any food—eggs, pancakes, brats, veggies, bacon and sausage, and anything else on the menu that requires high heat is easy to prepare. It’s even a wiz with fried foods. The high-walled cooking area has a 22-inch diameter and can hold just enough oil to completely baptize things like fish fillets, buffalo wings, French fries, and any other foods fitted to feed a large number of hungry mouths. A folding stand holds the disc at a comfortable 36-inches high (no bending over while cooking), and because it’s so light and easy to set up and take down, you can use it on the patio, in camp, off the truck tailgate, or anywhere else you’ve been assigned to cooking detail. The propane regulator can run off either the small, green 16-ounce tanks, or a large 20-pound reservoir with the included four-foot long hose. It’s a great gift idea for the chef that likes to cook a lot of food for a lot of people.