Tag Archive | "Meat Preparation"

Tags: , , , ,

THE GAME COOKBOOK by Clarissa Dickson Wright & Johnny Scott [Book Review]

Posted on 22 December 2010 by Cork Graham

 

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!

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup (3/4 stick) butter
  • 4 pheasant breasts
  • 4 shallots, chopped (if unavailable, use 4 tablespoons of chopped mild onions)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp bottled horseradish, or 1 tbsp strong fresh horseradish, grated.
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 packet black or green Italian noodles or make your own chestnut noodles (enough for 4 people)
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps: 

  1. Heat the butter in a heavy frying pan for which you have lid
  2. Sauté the pheasant breasts until they are sealed
  3. Remove them and sauté the shallots and the garlic until the shallots are pale gold
  4. Remove and discard the garlic clove
  5. Stir the horseradish into the shallots
  6. Add a tbsp, or so, of water and the lemon juice
  7. Return the breasts to the pan, add the cream, and cover
  8. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes, until the breasts are cooked
  9. If the sauce is too wet, remove the breasts and zap up the heat to reduce
  10. If it’s too dry, add a little more cream or some dry white white wine
  11. Cook the noodles according the package instructions and drain
  12. Serve the noodles with the pheasant
  13. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.

RELATED LINKS:

Comments Off on THE GAME COOKBOOK by Clarissa Dickson Wright & Johnny Scott [Book Review]

Tags: , , ,

Bun Thit Nai Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemon Grass BBQ Venison Noodle Salad) [Recipe]

Posted on 04 December 2010 by Cork Graham

Vietnam holds my first memories, some of them horrific: the bloodiest days of 1968’s “Little Tet” Offensive in May, marked in my mind by a US Army chopper firing rockets into a Vietcong machine gun post in a Saigon highrise; waking up in the public recovery room at the US Army’s hospital at Tan Son Nhut, among Vietnamese civilians wounded in the war…all well recorded in my 2004 Amazon Topseller memoir.

Other memories as the son of an American expat businessman, weren’t so traumatic and actually quite pleasant: skiing up and down the Saigon River to the Club Nautique (no, the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction wasn’t playing on the transistor radio) , trips to Dalat and Vung Tau, and my first taste of grilled venison noodle salad, otherwise known as Bun Thit Nuong Xa, thit nai being the venison (“meat deer” syntax) and xa the lemongrass that I think makes any wild game that much better.

The restaurant was in Saigon and I think we started going there in 1970 and continued as patrons until our leaving in 1972. Owned by a Frenchman and his Vietnamese wife, and dimly lit for romance it had a décor that would have made Graham Greene envious, but it was the food that made it one of the better-known restaurants in Saigon.

Bun Thit Nai Nuong Xa was only one of what were several courses required of business dinners designed for schmoozing clients, and especially bringing the family as family is very important in Asia. Company wining and dining budgets sure helped keep a family of four fed in those days. All I cared about though, as a boy of seven and then eight, was that big bowl of rice noodles topped by a mound of venison darkened by fire and sweet to the taste.

Over the years since I started deer hunting, I’ve played with the idea of putting it together as I remembered. Often, though, I’d just make a venison chili, marinated steaks, or an oven roast. As I’ve matured in my tastes and trained myself to recognize the different spices that make up dishes, I finally asked myself, what was it about that dish, aside from great tasting venison (probably a muntjac deer hunted by some Degar hunter in the Central Highlands, or a market hunter on one of the rubber plantations)?

When I shot such an amazingly tender mule deer up near Alturas, CA with the great assistance of newfound friends this last deer season, I suddenly got a bug to expand more than the normal repertoire of venison meals. For a meal with such a variety of aromatics and flavor, Bun Thit Nai Nuoung Xa turns out to be a very easy dish to prepare.

In California, it’s pretty easy to keep a stand of lemongrass growing all year in the Bay Area and Southern California; in a mini greenhouse, everywhere else, all year long. Makes a great tea with or without sugar and shows up in a majority of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Thai dishes, making it a worthwhile addition to anyone’s yard or window herb garden.

Finally, I said yesterday would be the day I made Bun Thit Nai Nuong Xa…and when I was done, I wondered why it too me so long: like my ours bourguignon that tastes better than beef bourguignion, Bun Thit Nai Nuong Xa tastes better than Bun Thit Nuong, i.e. the normal restaurant variety made with farmed pork…or the chicken and beef varieties for that matter.

…Yes, it’s that good!

Now you can purchase venison from ranches, but as far as I’m concerned farmed-raised deer is just a very lean beefsteak that used to have antlers instead of steer horns. Farm-raised means drugs, if even the lightest amount of antibiotics, and worst, fed a regulated diet of pellets and feed that comes in bags for improved muscle growth for weight at the market…all thanks to the USDA: we wonder why there’s obesity in the US?

If you want to get true organic venison, one that has been feeding on a variety of naturally occurring flora, living life in the wilds, absorbing all that made us that more connected to the healing qualities of the Earth, you’re going to have to get your venison with a gun or bow, or have a friend willing to share…

In just about every country outside the US, you can pay someone to shoot your venison…but why cut yourself out of the cycle of life equation that brings you that much closer to appreciating what you’re eating…or should be eating?

And while I’d never hunt muntjac in Asia as they’re definitely endangered there, I’d sure hunt them in Ireland and the UK where increasing numbers run the risk of a detrimental effect on native species of deer…as for New Zealand, with its low human population and major red deer populations hunting’s a given.

Now there are a lot of Vietnamese BBQ meat noodle salad recipes out there, but I’ve been enjoying reading the Vietnamese recipes published by the Ravenous Couple. Many of their recipes bring me back to the ones my mom learned from her Saigonese friends. Of course, as with all the recipes designed for meat from farm animals, I had to modify for wild game…

I wanted the venison to stand out, which means I had to remove some ingredients in the salad, and add to, and modify the marinade to deal with the dryness of venison—you’d be amazed at what good molasses can do!

Here is the recipe and please remember to comeback to make a comment below once you’ve finished enjoying your home cooked Bun Thit Nai Nuoung Xa–like traditional publications, it costs money to bring these articles FREE to YOU, paid for and supported by advertisers…part of which is attracted by rankings on Google, which is added to by the number of comments…You clicking on advertising links and making sure to make a comment on something you enjoyed means we’re able to keep bringing you useful information..and if you have a blog, too, the link to your blog through your comment brings your ranking up, too: win-win–Thank you and bon apetit!

If you’ve not got a local Asian foods market, you might find these ingredients and other things at Amazon worth ordering:

Bun Thit Nai Nuong Xa (BBQ Venison Noodle Salad)  [Recipe]

Serves four

Perfect Thit Nai cuts

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs of moose, blacktail, whitetail, mule deer or elk sliced ¼-inch thick and large enough so they won’t fall through a fish BBQ grill
  • 1 Cucumber cut in half, or quartered and then julienned
  • A bunch each of fresh mint, Thai basil, and cilantro some rolled and sliced, some leaves left whole for the chopped salad
  • One package of rice vermicelli
  • 2 green scallion minced
  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 3 tbs fresh peanuts coarsely ground then roasted.

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup minced Lemongrass (Xa) stalk [Cut the stalk an inch from the ground and trim off the green leaves to boil in water for a great tea]
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar—you can use refined sugar, but I think the added molasses adds something special.
  • 2 tbs fish sauce (Nuoc Mam—“water fish”)
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (use more according to taste)
  • 2-3 shallots, minced, or a tbs of thinly sliced red onions
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbs of molasses

 

Nuoc Mam Cham (This is the sweet delicious dipping sauce you get served with Chai Gios [Imperial Rolls])

  •   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

NOTE: Personally, I never started adding the vinegar until a friend of mine who escaped Hanoi on  a refugee boat, and started the best Hanoi-style noodle shop in San Francisco, called Loi’s—and after  a long hiatus started Cheramoya in Burlingame—turned me onto his use of vinegar.

And even this recipe I just mess around with above for my own tastes everytime I cook…

Everyone…and I mean EVERYONE has his or her own family take on this sauce in Vietnam. I’ve had it salty. I have had it bitter…and I’ve had it so sickeningly sweet I should have poured it on a strawberry sundae—you have my permission to experiment! 😉

Steps

  1. Mix the marinade to taste. Remember, everyone has different tastebuds and cultural tastes. Myself, I start with the recipe I’ve put together and add and subtract at each cooking session to make sure the marinade tastes exactly the way I like it.
  2. Immerse and stir the venison in the marinade. Cover and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I like to let it set for 2-3 hours to really get that marinade to the core.
  3. Start up the grill. I prefer to use a small Weber–and use charcoal…gas sucks. If you use a large one, you have to fill it up with a lot of charcoal. With a small Weber, I get high heat without wasting a bunch of charcoal—you want that meat right down there, almost touching the coals to really sear and get the molasses to crust over. Crusting helps keep the normally dry venison moist.
  4. Place the meat in a fish and vegetable basket grill and place on the grill.
  5. Cook the meat on one side for 2-3 minutes (we’re talking high heat here) until browning and slight blacking of tips…all that caramelizing for great taste!
  6. Remove the venison from the fire. Might be sticking, so let it cool on the grill so that it’s not falling to pieces as you remove it from the basket grill.
  7. While the meats resting, roast the ground peanuts in a dry frying pan to brown them slightly and bring out their flavor, then set aside.
  8. Heat up the peanut oil, or cottonseed oil can work, and fry the minced scallions until slightly sweated and then place on a paper towel to remove some of the oil and set aside.
  9. Boil the package of rice vermicelli, drain and set aside—if you want your noodles cold, then I suggest doing this first, or while the meat is marinating.
  10. In a soup bowl (if you have an actual Pho bowl of china, so much the better), place some of the chopped salad, then a layer of the rice vermicelli.
  11. Slice the cooked venison into large bite sizes easily picked up by chopsticks and place on top.
  12. Top with a light sprinkling of the prepared scallions and peanuts
  13. Serve with chopsticks and small bowl of the nuoc mam cham for your guests to dip the venison, or just pour over the whole dish and mix.

Enjoy!

Comments (11)

Tags: , , ,

Julia Child’s “Ours Bourguignon” (Bear Bourguignon)

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Cork Graham

In 1943, while working for the OSS in London, Julia McWilliams was introduced, by her boss “Wild Bill” Donovan, to James Corbett, a spitfire pilot in the RCAF. It would become a longtime friendship lasting until her death in 2004. When they went out to dinner, Corbett frequently regaled her with tales of his home near Calgary, and the big elk, moose and deer that were in the woods near his home. Most of all, he recommended she come out and enjoy the wilds of Canada.

Eighteen years had passed and McWilliams finally accepted Corbett’s invitation. By this time they had both married, and McWilliams was now arriving at Calgary Airport with her husband Paul Child. For dinner that night, Corbett’s wife Michelle, a French-Canadian native of Quebec prepared a spin on her family’s favorite dish, using the black bear James Corbett had taken only a few days before. It reminded Julia Child of Boeuf Bourguignon she had just perfected while finishing the compilation of her soon to be released Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

…Ah, if only it happened like this!

Quite an adventurous lady—Julia was actually hoping to jump into WWII France with OSS agents, but instead was made a top researcher directly under “The Father of Central Intelligence” General Donovan—I’m sure Child would have much enjoyed this spin on what would become her boeuf bourguignon. There was a Colonel James “Jim” Corbett, but he was more famous for wildlife conservation and hunting man-eating tigers for the Raj and the British Colonial Government in India (his first tiger had 436 confirmed kills through his belly before Corbett got him): he also was neither a pilot, nor a Canadian, and though quite a writer in his own right (check out Man-Eaters of Kumaon) I don’t think he ever met Julia, and died just six years before the release of the book that would open a whole new career to her.

These were the just mental machinations of a writer working on his first novel, delirious under the flu (though not as badly as when I’ve had malaria and the relapses…but that’s another story), and a heartily enjoyed bowl of Ours Bourguignon. I think it blows away any bourguignon made with common beef.

This dish was instigated by my running across our family’s 1970 copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that Child co-authored with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, and my French-Basque hunting buddy Arnaud Bidondo giving me a pound of stew meat from a nice brown-phase, 6-foot black bear he got last year.

When I went through Child’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, though, I noticed she really only mentions thyme and a bay leaf as spice other than black pepper. Also, there’s only salt bacon. I wondered what would happen if you used Herbs de Provence. Standardized in the 1970s as a dried herb mixture from Provence (savory, thyme, basil, fennel) it also incorporated for American tastes, lavender. As my colleague, Hank Shaw says, brandy goes well with lavender, and after having tried it with so many other recipes, I can honestly say that just about everything goes well with lavender, especially sweet meats, of which bear can be, and especially so in California, where many bear taken by hunters without hounds are during the early part of the season, when the black bears have been fattening up on blackberries and mazanita berries.

As my friend Bidondo says, “many like to grill the bear meat, which is okay with the smaller bear, but when they are this big, much better in a stew!”

I wanted something that didn’t take as long to make as the original recipe, and would be simply amazing…So here’s my rendition of Julia Child’s Boeuf Á La Bourguignon, with ours replacing boeuf—Bon Apetit!

NOTE: Unlike venison, remember to cook all bear meat through, like pork, because of the possibility of trichinosis.

Nothing wilder than, and as robust as black bear meat!

 

Ours Bourguignon/Ours Á La Bourguignon

Ingredients :

1-2 lbs of bear stew meat

1 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped carrot

1 chopped onion

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Herbs de Provence

1 bay leaf

3 cups of red wine ( Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink: I used Francis Ford Coppola’s 2005 Claret [Cabernet Sauvignon])

1 can of Campbell’s beef consommé

1 tbsp of tomato paste

¼ lb of applewood smoked sliced bacon

18-24 small white onions

1 lb of fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter

1 tbsp chopped parsley

¼ cup of butter.

Render that bacon fat

 

Steps :

  1. Take a cassoulet or clay pot ( I prefer to use a large Vietnamese/Chinese clay pot that go for only $9 in San Francisco’s Chinatown—just before using make sure you soak it in cold water for at least 45 minutes, else it’ll crack, especially if using it for the first time).
  2. Cut the bacon strips into tiny squares, and fry them in the olive oil clay pot.
  3. Render out all the bacon fat, setting aside the brown bacon bits.
  4. Brown the bear stew meat, frying only a few pieces at a time to make sure they brown instead of cook, setting browned bear meat with the brown bacon bits.
  5. With all the bear meat browned, sprinkle the flour, salt and black pepper on top and toss the meat and bacon to make sure they’re all lightly coated.
  6. Toss the chopped onions and carrots into the claypot and sweat them until the onions are almost translucent.
  7. Pour in the 3 cups of red wine and scrape off as much of the brown goodness that has stuck the bottom of the clay pot.
  8. Add the can of beef consommé and dissolve the tbsp of tomato paste in the pot; then add the browned bear meat, bacon bits, and the spices and give a good stir.
  9. Here’s where you a lot of leeway with a claypot. You can either put it in the oven at 325-degrees Fahrenheit. NOTE: DO NOT preheat an oven for a clay pot—you’ll crack the pot! Just insert the clay pot and turn the heat on the desired degree.
  10. Or, do as I did. Put it on the stove on high heat and get the bourguignon boiling, then back off to medium heat and cover to simmer for the next 3-4 hours: until the bear meat is fork-tender.
  11. In the last 45 minutes, pour in the small white onions.
  12. During the last 15 minutes add the butter-fried mushrooms, giving a slow stir.

Clay pots are a chef’s Swiss Army knife

 

Serving suggestions:

Bear Bourguignon is really that good!


Display the clay pot at the center of the table, on a wood or cloth pot holder (never a cold stone, else the immediate temperature shift will crack the clay pot). Remove the bay leaf and throw it away.

Serve over mash potatoes,  wide, flat egg noodles, or with a side of small peeled potatoes. If you do serve with noodles, use only butter on the noodles. I tried coating the egg noodles with olive oil and it really overpowered the delicious flavor of the ours bourguignon.

Sprinkle chopped parsley lightly on the side and ours bourguignon.

Note for the Conservation Minded:

With how many more black bears there are in California than legal bucks (largely due to an overpopulation of major predators like bears and mountain lions, but more because of the counterproductive moratorium on hunting the heavily overpopulated California puma), it behooves every hunter to get a black bear tag to hunt in open areas. This is  especially so with how much opportunity there is these days, with new open areas in the Southern/Santa Barbara County section of Los Padres National Forest. Guess the millionaire residents in Santa Barbara have finally gotten fed up with black bears jumping in their mansion pools and munching on their fruit trees.

And because those bears have been getting enormous on avocados, you’ll get that much more meat for the freezer! Hopefully with this recipe you’ll learn that even a big old black bear can be just as tasty and tender as a smaller one: You just have to cook it right…

Related Articles:

Comments (4)

  • STAY CONNECTED

  • Advertise Here
    Advertise Here