First covering Shotshow in 1997, perhaps it was about time to attend Media Day: I prefer to trial and evaluate new products in the field, so shooting at the public relations range event is more often just a redundancy…except when patterning shot and performing ballistics tests. It was also an opportunity connect up with a classmate of mine from my childhood days attending the Phoenix Study Group in Saigon.
Because of how the proliferation of AR-15 style rifles have inundated the market, and been effectively used in the battle against the overpopulation of ole Mr. Razorback in states like Texas, what better decision than to release a powder and projectile match as these rounds with a proper bullet to rip through hog hide and gristle and reach the vitals in a large pig?
The Armalite offering for wild boar?
The Razorback XT .223 round was released in a 64-grain bullet, while the .308 version is delivered in a 150-grain. Some might think that a .223 round is a little too light for feral pig hunting, but up to 200 yards, this round does it job. For someone who hunts most of his feral hogs in California, and often in the lead-free zone of Central California, the non-lead attributes of the Razorback XT is a God send! It is specially designed to not start deforming until after having pierced the hog’s armor. Now, all we have to do is get around the legal restrictions of the AR-10 and AR-15 design in California, which is laughable.
This year they’re releasing a #5-shot load in 2-3/4-inch shell, along with a #2-shot load. From the way it patterns it looks like a great round to get those ducks in the 25 to 40-yard range…my favorite for shooting over decoys. Check out the latest episode of Cork’s Outdoors TV below:
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If you remember the British cooking series, Two Fat Ladies, of PBS and BBC fame, you’ll immediately recognize Clarissa Dickson Wright as the taller of the two, not the proud chainsmoker who passed away from lung cancer in 1999. Dickson Wright is the co-author of The Game Cookbook with Scottish farmer and outdoorsman, Johnny Scott.
A gorgeously illustrated review copy sent to us by the publisher, The Game Cookbook takes standard table game and puts a variation on it that brings out the best qualities through innovative experimentation, with classic recipes and those that seem to have been magically created by neighbors on the other side of the authors’ hedge.
Included are recipes that are very traditional in the UK and Europe. Others reach to the Middle East and South Asia, modified from recipes based in preparing more traditional farm-raised meats. Well-read and always willing to tell a story, Dickson Wright colors the recipes with asides of family histories and remembrances of foreign travel and meals had with friends.
You’ll find that it’s very much a UK book with such references as “wapiti”, which those of us in the US and Canada recognize as elk: what they call elk in Europe and the UK, we call moose in North America.
The artwork gracing the pages is a mix of old paintings, of hunting and fishing in North America and Europe, even movie stills (James Mason looks quite dashing with a side-by-side), and then photos of completed dishes just as beautiful as the sketches and historical art. Together they bring to the reader the old and new of game and fish cuisine, along with anecdotes that can prepare the neophyte hunter or angler for their first hunting or fishing experience.
At the end of the book is a listing of hunting and fishing organizations in the UK and US, along with a collection of wildlife agencies in the United States. For those who might not be personally able to collect their own main component of a game or fish dish, a listing of game suppliers offering meat farm-raised animals (unlike in Europe, where wild game and fish are sold in many shops, the selling of true wild game in the US has been illegal for years) provides an option.
One of the topics that I keyed in on, because it puts so much fear in the new game chef, is aging. In the US of late, as the tradition of hunting has skipped one, two or even three generations, the result of more Americans moving into urban areas in pursuit of employment, the art of aging has been forgotten. If you read some of the forums on the Internet, there’s such an intimidation toward aging and meat contamination that it can sometimes be humorous, sometimes sad…. What would people do if suddenly our refrigerators no longer worked and we were suddenly dumped into a kitchen life experience most families had up until the end of the early part of the last century?
Aging was a heavily practiced technique for stretching the day’s take, improving flavor and tenderizing a tough old bird, or side of venison. It all has to do with air temperature and humidity: cool and moist tops the list, and extends the aging time. The author goes through the aging process for just about every meat type taken, from grouse, to pheasant to venison.
There are also recipes for those that might not be specifically sought in the US and Canada, but are looked forward to in Europe and the UK, such as carp. There are recipes for grouse, pheasant, elk, moose, antelope, caribou, wild boar, partridge (chukar), quail, dove, American woodcock, snipe, hare (jackrabbit), cottontail, salmon trout, sea trout, zander (yellow perch), pike and of course goose.
At the back just before the meat supplier’s list, is a collection of recipes for compotes, sauces and stocks bringing out the best flavors of the dish.
When it came to testing a recipe, I decided it was time to use one of the many pheasants that Ziggy had pointed out for me last year—the dish quick to prepare and a rich, creamy mix of flavors!
PHEASANT WITH NOODLES AND HORSERADISH CREAM
A bit sweet. A bit tangy. All delicious!
1/3 cup (3/4 stick) butter
4 pheasant breasts
4 shallots, chopped (if unavailable, use 4 tablespoons of chopped mild onions)
Hung for two days in the garage and sitting in the bottom of my freezer for the last three years, I was wondering if the goose was still good. One of a snow and specklebelly pair that I had taken in the Sacramento Valley while trying out a new SP10 and 3-1/2” Remington 1187, it fell to the matched Federal Premium Blackcloud BB-sized pellets.
That Blackcloud collar is the reason birds just drop when they get hit...
When I was done with the aging process and had plucked them (the fresh hearts and livers had gone into a Ziploc, the day the geese were taken, for a later liver paté greatly enjoyed and long missed) I wrapped them in a three layers of cellophane.
Surprisingly, three years later, not even a trace of freezer burn!
Originally, I was going to do a book review of Chef John D. Folse hunter’s cookbook bible, After the Hunt, but then something wonderful happened—the first round of figs turned a beautiful dark purple, signaling their ripeness!
My huntin’ buddy Hank Shaw has written an number of articles on syrups, and one fig syrup recipe caught my eye. But, I enjoy eating my figs fresh and whole, so in order to stretch them, I decided to make the sauce for my goose more like a turkey’s cranberry sauce, thick and more like a jam.
Figs from now until end of A Zone deer season in September
On the subject of the meat and “things not to do” once again surprised me by actually doing them. Always told that refreezing meats would make them somehow worse didn’t seem to be true with this goose.
Two weeks ago, I had gone through the whole process of defrosting and brining the goose, but when the day came for cooking, I realized I didn’t have all the ingredients for the full dinner, nor the time—probably happened to you as you remembered a dinner or other meeting almost too late?
Taking the goose in the pot that it had been sitting in to dry (I like to remove the brine for a day to let the skin dry in order to improve the browning and crisping of the skin), I put the whole thing in the meat freezer.
A week later, I had everything and the time….defrosting again, with trepidation: I was told that meat frozen and refrozen is just horrible….And when it was all done, the goose was delicious!
Since the Fig Sauce takes the longest, make sure to prepare it first.
2. Save four figs and cut them lengthwise into sixths and set aside.
3. Add all ingredients and bring to a fast boil, thicking the sauce through evaporation—about 25 minutes on high heat. Sauce should be the consistency of thin jam.
4. Add the figs slices and simmer for another 10 minutes and set aside.
1 Specklebelly goose
1 large red onion
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Black pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1. Brine the goose over night in a gallon of water with one cup each of sugar and kosher salt (use only ceramic or plastic containers so that there’s no reaction of the brine with metal).
2. Drain the brine and pat away the excess moisture on the goose and place it back in the empty brining container
3. Let is dry in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
4. Place the red onion in the cavity and rub the goose skin olive oil and then the salt and black pepper. Truss the legs or simply stick in the open cavity under the tail.
5. Place in a cast-iron skillet and place in an oven that has been preheated to 400-degree Fahrenheit.
6. Roast for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees.
7. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes and then carve, serving with a two cooked fig slices and sauce.
8. Save the goose drippings and use to brown the potatoes.
Cook goose like a great steak -- medium rare!
Roast Potatoes with Salsa de Mani (Peanut Butter Sauce)
Salsa de mani ready to serve
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Modified to use country roast potatoes instead of the traditional boiled, this family recipe has been served by mom ever since I can remember. An Ecuadorian recipe of Inca origins, it’s normally served with that other Incan delicacy, cuy (roast guinea pig).
6 Red Potatoes
3/4 Cup Chunky Peanut butter (sweetened)
1/2 Cup White onion, thinly sliced crescents
1 tbsp of Achiote seeds
1 Cup Milk
1 whole Onion
Pinch of salt
Wrap the potatoes in moistened paper towel and put them in the microwave for 6-7 minutes until soft to squeeze.
Quarter them and dowse with olive oil.
Fry the achiote seeds until the oil leeches out.
Remove the seeds and then fry the onion in the red-tinted achiote oil until they’ve sweated and translucent.
Add the milk, pinch of salt, and then disolve the peanut butter in the milk, stirring as it comes to a low boil. Don’t over cook the sauce. It should be creamy and the consistency of almost watery tooth paste, not peanut butter.
Put the quartered potatoes in skillet previously used to roast the goose, uncovered, to brown in a 500 degree Faranheit oven, 10-15 minutes.
NOTE: I used the Big Green Egg for the goose and the potatoes.