Tag Archive | "Meat Preparation"

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CORK’S OUTDOORS COMPETES ON FINNISH TV’S “AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE”

Posted on 23 June 2012 by Cork Graham

California draws visitors from all over the world. Some come for the wine. Others come for the sun. Many come to see what has been described by such literary luminaries as Jack London and John Steinbeck. It was Steinbeck Country (the Duckworth family, depicted under a pseudonym in The Grapes of Wrath, has a family graveyard and ranch just down the way) that a production team from Finland’s JIM TV had come to film an episode of AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE. The main ingredient was to be the well-known feral hog of California.

Within an hour of meeting the cast and crew at the gate to Native Hunt Ranch, we were onto pigs. They were huddled under the overhang of a large, old oak when we came over the knoll in a four-wheeler. I knew they had to be there what with how a cold snap and rain had rolled in the night before. I breathed a sigh of relief as they weren’t where they normally were on Native Hunt Ranch. There was a lot riding on getting a pig today. I had a new AR-15 that UT Arms had specially made for our sister online publication, GCT Magazine, that need to get practical use, and I was guest-hosting a new cooking show for Finland’s JIM TV satellite channel. AMERICAN FOOD BATTLE had come out all the way from Helsinki to see how we hunt and eat in Monterey.

Frankly, I was actually delighted with how swiftly things were happening. Though I have spent a bit of time at rocker and friend, Michael Riddle’s Native Hunt Ranch, and enjoyed watching the multitude of animals on the property, there’s nothing guaranteed in nature. Normally, the pigs like to hang out in a canyon that bisects the ranch, a thoroughfare between the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base on one side, and another ranch on the other.  It wasn’t very comfortable navigating across the green hills of Monterey County in the early morning drizzle, and so I knew the pigs had the same problems. Like the log house lodge that serves as respite from the cold and rain to guests, the shelter  under California oaks provides the same.

When we encountered the feral hogs, I pointed to a glade of oaks, and hushed, “Pigs!” Henry Dhuy, the cameraman, grabbed his equipment from the back of vehicle. I grabbed my AR-15 from its case, and did my best to chamber a round quietly. The pigs were tired from what must have been a horribly unsettling night of rain, thunder and lightning, and were sluggish in making a break from comfort: all of them were huddled next and on top of each other to keep warm from the wet and cold. By the time I edged over the hill, and checked back to make sure the Finnish cameraman was ready, two had come to their feet. One of them would be mine.

Laying the forestock of the AR-15 on a collapsible bipod, I quickly lined up the crosshairs on the smaller of the two pigs. This was a cooking show and I was doing my best to get the best-tasting porker in the bunch, 50 yards away. With the RR-CQLR’s crosshair bead centered on a point made by an imaginary crossing of two diagonal lines, from base of ear to eye on the other side, I touched off a round. The 65-grain hollow-point hit the 55-pound sow, and she jumped straight up in the air, just like countless cottontails I’ve shot in the head with a .22LR. After a few photos to record the event, we transported her over to the skinning shed on the other side of the ranch, and began the quick process of gutting and skinning the perfect-sized porker. Innards are oft lost in this modern day.

“You want the liver and kidneys?”

I think it’s because so many hunters, and even cuisine enthusiasts, just haven’t been taught the merits of liver, heart and kidneys. Our parents delighted in these. Our ancient ancestors, long before the advent
of agriculture thrived and survived on these, so much so that it was all they needed….and they didn’t get tooth cavities which became more prevalent as we moved from hunter/gatherers to farmers, from meat to grains.

“Do you want to work with these?” I asked our culinary masters from Finland. Chef Henri Alén, and Sommelier Nicolaus Thieulon, are co-owners of the successful Muru Ravintola, a French and Italian fusion restaurant in Helsinki. Veterans of a variety of cooking and travel shows in Finland, they’re well-versed in not only cuisine and but also pairing good food with wines. They took the liver, kidneys, heart and ham. I took the ham and the backstrap. The meat cut like butter it was so tender.

Heading back to the lodge’s open bar and roofed kitchen, we began work on meat preparation. I was going to offer my old bear, deer and wild boar standby Vietnamese-style marinated and grilled meat on rice noodle and salad, for the competition. The Finnish team opted for wild boar bourguignon.

Knowing the Fins have a long history with firearms, not the least of which is noted in history and present day by Sako, a manufacturer of fine rifles and ammunition, I invited the hosts to do a bit of target shooting off the back deck at a metal target stand 50 yards away. I’d been looking forward to getting more practice with a GLOCK 17 and my new favorite 1911, the S&W 1911TA. Emptying the 1911’s magazine into the target, the show’s producer, asked if he could have Henry Dhuy, a Los Angeles-transplanted cameraman, collect some video of me teaching an impromptu basic pistol shooting class, albeit at very long ranges.

Alén and Thieulon were ringers. Henri attributed his great shooting with the Glock 17 to his days as a recruit in the Finnish Navy.  When we were done it was time for me to get to work on the grilling of the meat component of my dish so that both our dished would be ready at the same time. I’d say more, but that would be cheating the viewers of finding out who won the competition. According to the producer, this season is presently being being edited and will be broadcast on JIM TV spring 2013.

 

Explaining the recipe…

So what was it like to be on Finnish TV? Very edifying! Here in the States, aside from language-dedicated audiences, such as those of Canal 14, we shoot in English for an English speaking audience. In Finland, a nation that was one occupied by Russia and Sweden, the production team shot English with me, and then in Finnish and Swedish between Alén and Thieulon. It gave me a lot to think, and you’ll begin to see some add-ons at Cork’s Outdoors, and our other multi-media publication, GCT Magazine, for our international audience.

 Hunting the Black Rifle

When hunters began using AR-10 and AR-15 rifles many words were fired back and forth between two camps. One camp considered the introduction of the “Black Rifle” a pall on the activity. The other camp lauded the attributes of the AR as a fine addition to the hunting community, either with a full 30-round magazine, for varmint control, or a five or 10-round for big and small-game. Many of those in either group can often be determined by their generation.

Many more options, many more calibers.

Those over thirty years old are often in the first group. They were also likely to have had their first experience in hunting with a more traditional lever action, pump, or bolt-action rifle. AR enthusiasts, on the other hand, were often introduced to the AR-style of rifle through M16/M4 they were issued in the military, or attracted to the firearm through watching action-adventure movies. Perhaps they purchased a civilian version of weapon they carried during their youth and want to recapture that part of their military life, and used it to plink and enjoy the relaxing activity of target shooting. Unlike the other shooter who probably graduated from a learning to shoot with bolt or pump action wood-stocked and started hunting small-game, then developed into a big-game hunter, the shooter first introduced to shooting through the military, had never hunted, but suddenly wanted to try it out, especially if they’re part of the “slow-food” movement that has sprung up in response to Michael Pollan’s bestseller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. They went to the firearm in which they were well-versed: the AR platform.

Personally, I have no problem with the use of using AR type rifles, though I also prefer to hunt with a more traditional bolt-action or lever-action rifle. I’m not partial to shooting fast with a rifle having the type of pistol grip on AR and AK-type rifle. It’s a smoother transition to shoulder a rifle or shotgun from a two-handed, ready, carry with a traditional type of grip, like the straight, English-style grip on a Winchester 1894, or a curved grip on a Model 70. An AR15 on the other hand makes, because of its overall design, for a precision rifle for shooting from a rigid position, a stand or a blind, with a platform a set of shooting sticks. The reason is that the pistol grip  found on Black Rifles positions the trigger hand in a very relaxed position when the rifle is shouldered and enables the shooter to put all tension into the trigger finger.

In the world of traditional hunting stocks, this positioning of the grip hand is accomplished by either adding a pistol grip to a slightly modified stock, or forming a stock in the manner done for a thumbhole stock. One of the most accurate rifles I ever owned, the Savage 93R17 BTVS, was a true tack driver, for not only the stainless steel bull-barrel and AccuTrigger, but also the thumbhole laminated stock.

With regard to whether using an AR-15 or AK-47 is sporting or not, is pretty mute. Most states already require a round limit on magazines. Also, most hunting situations offer only a few viable shooting opportunities before the animals make it to safety: while shooting to remove the enemy’s will fight is the norm in war, incapacitation; shooting for a “clean kill” is the objective in hunting. Regarding overtake, there are laws and whether the shooter is a law-abiding hunter, or poaching game hog, is irrespective to what firearm the person in question is carrying. Finally, do you think the animal being shot really cares how sporting it was that you just killed it with a 5-shot bolt action rifle, or AR15 with a hunting regulation-required 5 or 10-shot magazine?

Whether you hunt with a traditional wood or composite stock, or an AR15 rifle that was originally designed to arm soldiers, is your prerogative. How you carry yourself in the field is was matters, and just as importantly how much time you spent on the field getting to really know the ins and outs of your firearm of choice, and its ammunition, to make sure that your shot is fast and efficient, both for the least amount of duress to the animal targeted, and the increased likelihood its flesh will be delicious at the dinner table.

Cork Graham is the publisher of GCT Magazine and Cork’s Outdoors. For his latest books, writings, and appearances, follow him at www.corkgraham.com, Facebook and Twitter. He is also a small-arms instructor and security consultant with ETS; for more information visit: www.emergencytacticalskills.com

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Bear and Venison Bun Cha Hanoi on the Red Boat

Posted on 16 August 2011 by Cork Graham

  

 When I first read about Red Boat on Ravenous Couples website, I was intrigued. I remembered fondly from my childhood in Saigon the pure fish sauce (nuoc mam) that was exported from the island of Phu Quoc to Saigon. My Saigonese friends would always laud it as the best. But, over the years, and only offered the same best option as everyone else outside of Vietnam, Three Crabs fish sauce, I forgot what made real nuoc mam so special.

That was until I exchanged emails with the owner of Red Boat Fish Sauce and learned we were only separated by the San Francisco Bay. When he offered to drop off some samples in person, I responded with an offer of lunch and a recipe adaptation I’d been playing around in mind with ever since I tried it at the restaurant owned by a friend who had escaped from Hanoi in the early 1980s. Called Loi’s, and now run by his sister, it’s still on Irving Street in San Francisco—serves the best North Vietnamese street cuisine in the city.

So, Red Boat owner, Cuong Pham and his director of sales and marketing, Robert Bergstrom, joined me for my experiment with bear and deer meat. First, though, I had to make a comparison. Before opening the bottle, we read the ingredients label: Red Boat has only salt and anchovy extract; Three Crab has anchovy extract, water, salt, fructose, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Red Boat is the real deal!

 Then, I poured into a small tasting bowl. It’s viscosity was impressive. Most nuoc mam pours out like water. Red Boat leaves the bottle like maple syrup.

 But, it was the taste test that sold me: Three Crab is salty coming in and going past the tongue. Red Boat starts salty, but finishes sweet. It has a savoriness that reminds me of why for some back in the Vietnam nuoc mam makes a complete meal by being spooned over a small bowl of rice.

 Filling a clay pot with the grilled black bear meatballs and marinated venison slices, I mixed up a batch of nuoc mam cham, the dipping sauce that you’re normally offered with Vietnamese cha gio (deep fried imperial rolls). And then that’s when I knew, beyond the shadow of doubt: Red Boat is THE BEST nuoc mam you can find in the United States!

 Here’s the recipe for you to find out yourself:

 There are three parts to Bun Cha. First is the ground meat, then the grilled whole meat, and then the vegetables that make such an aromatic and healthy meal.

 It may look pretty involved, but once you have the veggies and meats all set up, the grilling and nuoc mam cham steeping is pretty quick and easy.

 Nuoc Mam Cham

 2 Cups water

½ Cup rice vinegar

½ Cup sugar

10 TBS fish sauce

2 small fresh chili peppers, chopped

  1.  Bring the water with the vinegar up to boiling, then turn off the heat
  2.  Pour in the sugar to dissolve
  3.  Add the fish sauce and chopped fresh chilis
  4.  Normally, you let this cool, but for Bun Cha, pour over the meat warm.

 Cha Thit Gấu (Ground Bear Sausage)

 

1/2 lbs. ground bear meat

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 TBS sugar

1 TSP salt

1 TSP black pepper

1 TSP white pepper

1 TSP coconut caramel sauce, or molasses

1 egg beaten

  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly
  2. Place in a non-reactive/non-metal container, covered, for at least an hour, or preferably overnight
  3. Form them into handball-sized meatballs and place a number of them on a skewer for easier manipulation on the grill
  4. Grill over a high heat coals, starting your cooking before the venison
  5. As bear meat is like wild pork in terms of parasites such as trichinosis, it’s important to cook the bear through. That’s doesn’t meant dry, but to an internal meat temperature of 160 degree Fahrenheit.

  

  • Bear meatballs on a stick ready for the grill

Thit Nai (Venison component)

1 lb venison roast, thinly sliced about 1/4 inch or so (not too thin that it’ll dry out during grilling)

1/8 Cup  minced Lemongrass. If you live in temperate zone like California, worth growing in the backyard for a number of great recipes and teas, and it’s a natural mosquito repellent)

2 TBS sugar

1 TBS fish sauce

1 TSP ground pepper

2 Cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced.

1 TSP soy sauce

1 TBS molasses

  1. Mix everything but the venison
  2. Place the venison strips in a non-metal/ non-reactive container and cover
  3. Let the meat sit in marinade for at least an hour—I like to leave it overnight.
  4. Lay the meat strips in a fish or veggie-grilling basket to keep them from fall into the fir
  5. Grill the meat for four to five minutes on each side, to a brown or black on the outside and slight pink inside.

 

The Veggies and Rice Noodles

 1 Cucumber

1 Bunch of Cilantro

1 Bunch of Thai basil leaves

1 Bunch of fresh mint leaves

1 Head of lettuce

2 Cups of pickled daikon and carrots in a seperate bowl for serving

 

Pickled Daikon and Carrots  (Do Chua) recipe:

1/2 lb. carrots -shredded in food processor, sliced in thin rounds or thin match-like strips.

1/2 lb. daikon radish – cut same as carrots.

3 cups warm water

3 Tablespoons distilled or rice vinegar

2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you want your pickles

2 tablespoons salt

  1.  Mixed the brine and heat for total saturation, and then after cooling, pour it into non-reactive container, like a ceramic pickling jar
  2. Shred the carrots and daikon into two to three-inch long thin strips
  3. Place the carrots and daikon in the brine, and let pickle for at least an hour before using. It can last for up to five months in the refrigerator.

 

Bun Cha Serving Steps:

  1. On a large serving dish, please a heaping mound of rice noodle. I use pretty much one full package of rice stick that I quickly dip into a hot pot of water, using a basket ladle. Only about a minute at the most to soften the noodles, and making sure to lift and drop to get most of the excess boiled water out
  2. As it continues to hydrate and become opaque white, lift and separate the bundle to give the noodles loft as they cool
  3. Once they’re just warm and not hot, you can begin an arrangement around the rice noodles of sliced cucumber, whole lettuce leaves and sprigs of mint or basil and sweet basil
  4. On another plate lay a stack of Bun Cha (cirular rice paper). It’s served with a bowl of warm water for diners to wet the Bun Cha to soften it enough to make a the roll 
  5. Once everything but the meat is ready, and placed at the dining table, begin the cooking process for the two meats on the grill 
  6. After the meat is cooked, place it in a pot, sliding the meatballs off the skewers. My preference is a traditional Asian claypot as it keeps the meat warm 
  7. Warm up the nuoc mam cham, and pour over the barbecued meatLet the meat sit in the sauce for fifteen minutes, then serve.

 How to eat Bun Cha:

  1. Take a bowl and place a softened piece of rice paper in the middle
  2. Grab pieces of cucumber, cilantro, lettuce, basil leaf and place them in line up the middle of the rice paper
  3. Place a thumb-thick collection of noodle strands on the line of veggies
  4. Using your chopsticks, collect a piece of venison and half or quarter of one of the meatballs and place along the line of noodles and vegetables
  5. Top with a few strands of the Do Chua
  6. Spoon some nuoc mam cham down the line
  7. Roll up the rice paper and eat like a Vietnamese burrito

 

Bon Appetit!

Bun cha ready for rolling and eating

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Cambodian Honey Marinade Bear Steaks

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Cork Graham

Don’t eat anything with a face a mother could love. You’d think this phrase was only the slogan of the vegetarian, but I can almost hear the bane to sound wildlife conservation rear its ugly head even in hunting circles.

That’s where in lies the apprehension of even the hungriest hunter when the topic of culinary conversation falls on the bear. Everyone’s willing to go out and blast a buck, or drop a duck. They might even do the proper work of thinning out coyotes. But will they drop the same hammer on a large Teddy bear?

“Oh it just looks too much like a human when it’s skinned,” is the other retort frequently used. Now, if Fish and Game used these emotionally driven ideas to run their wildlife management programs we’d be in real trouble…wait a minute: they do run their programs based on emotional responses by the public!

Not that the research isn’t there provided by biologists. It’s just that in California, the DFG doesn’t want to ruffle too many feathers: they do have to get paid…but should their pay be based on how they make people in San Francisco and Los Angeles feel all warm and cuddly? Or, should they be taking care of a predator population gone rampant, while the major prey dwindles due to too many deer tags sold for deer zones, Mexican cartel growers setting snares and booby-traps, lack of burning for fawn protection and increased food potential (USFS/BLM is terrified of getting sued by homeowners if their home accidentally burns down), and major mountain lion populations left unchecked?

We have a really big problem in California, as do most of the states along the Pacific Coast, where we’ve let city votes control country wildlife: does a person who’s never set foot in the country except for perhaps an annual picnic local park have better knowledge about wildlife behavior and habitat than a biologist who spends 200 days a year tracking populations? According to the continued moratorium on hunting mountain lions, that only helps the ignorant sleep at night, but has actually led to more lions killed under depredation tags and the rancher’s Tripe S (Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up) than would have ever fallen to a hunter population carrying a mountain lion tag during a set hunting season.

Until California gets its wildlife management practices under actual control of those who are paid to know what to do, i.e. the DFG biologists, we can at least we can do our part to help the deer population by thinning out the next largest predator population, the black bear, in California…and if what I’ve heard rumored is true, there might within a few years be a California bear hunting season with no limit as I enjoyed in Alaska—YES! THERE ARE THAT MANY BLACK BEARS IN CALIFORNIA…when you have bears, coyotes, and mountain lions coming down into heavily populated areas in search of food, it’s because their bigger brother kicked them out of their home area.

And with something as tasty as black bear meat, I’m still perplexed as to why people continue to avoid putting them in the meat locker and cooking them for a fine meal. After all, up until the early part of the last century (the selling of wild game became illegal in 1918), black bear had an honored place on menus in the most respected restaurants of New York.

For me, as I’ve been under the gun with the release of two new novels this year, the re-release of my 2004 bestselling Vietnam Prison memoir, The Bamboo Chest, in Kindle, and a new memoir (I call it the Marley & Me for combat veterans), bear meat has been a true source of comfort: it’s rich like an amazing beef steak, and yet sweet like pork. If you were to ask me my rating on meats, it goes this way from top to bottom: moose, black bear, antelope, wild boar, mule deer, blacktail deer…black bear, especially one that’s been feeding on manzanita berries or black berries, is that good!

In the last few months, I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting. This might be my best bear steak recipe of all. Yes, even better than my Scots Drambuie-Berry BBQ sauced black bear steak…It fits so well with what fellow hunter born under the sign of the archer Chef Marco Pierre White says, that food goes well served with what it eats. And what does a black bear enjoy most than honey?

Khmer honey-marinated black bear steaks grilling on a Big Green Egg.

Khmer Honey Marinade Black Bear Steak Recipe

Ingredients :

· 1½ lbs black bear steaks

· 1 tbs garlic, minced

· 1 stalk of lemon Grass, chopped

· 1 tbs soy sauce

· 1 tbs oyster sauce

· ¼ tsp salt

· 1 tbs honey

· ¼ tsp black pepper

Nuoc Mam Cham (This is the sweet delicious dipping sauce you get served with Chai Gios [Imperial Rolls]) It’s a little sweeter than Khmer, but works fine:

· ½ cup Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce)

· 1 cup cold water

· 2 tbs brown sugar

· 2-3 tbs white vinegar

· 1 tsp fresh lime juice

· 1 Thai bird chili finely chopped

Steps :

1. Put the bear meat in a large container and set a side.

2. In a blender, put garlic, green onion, soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt, honey and black pepper, blended well.

3. Pour the prepared marinade on the bear meat, mix well, cover it and refrigerate it over night, or at least 4 hours.

4. To grill, lay the marinated bear on the grill at a medium temperature, cook until meat tender and singed on both sides and there’s no pink juice leaking when you pierce the meat to test. A great carmelization will occur that seals in the juices and adds to its moistness, though cooked through. Because of the possibility of parasites in bear, you need to cook to a central temperature of 155 degree Fahrenheit.

5. Slice the steaks and serve them hot as an appetizer with rice, or wraps meat with rice noodle, lettuce, herbs and dip in the nuoc mam cham.

Bon Apetit!

Related Articles:

· Veterans Day Mendocino Black Bear

· Hank Shaw’s Bear Pelmeni

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