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Girls Go Wild

With the white tail hunting season finally closed in Texas, the boys back home on the weekends, and most of the meat back from the processor, attention turns now to other, more domestic fancies.  Like what the heck do you do with the 400 pounds of game meat in your extra freezer.  After all, the freezer that was procured for just such a purpose.

Actually, if I recall correctly, the freezer was procured with the idea that it would store cookie dough, and baked goods ahead of the holiday gift giving fracas.  The fridge side would be a storage place for my excess gourmet supplies, such as vanilla beans, edible flowers, fresh herbs, mushrooms, and anything else that was not intended for grab-and-go noshing by throngs of hungry tweens. 

But I digress….Relegated to the garage, and therefore in closer proximity to man-activities–car fixin’, dart throwin’, and tool hangin’–the appliance has instead become a receptacle of excess man-food items.  Oh, yes, there is a drawer in which I may find space to store a vanilla bean or two, sandwiched in between links of dried venison sausage, and some jalapeno-cheese moose salami.  The rest is full of beer, and light beer, and some more beer.  Now, I can’t give full blame for this to my Cowboy-Hunter man…There are 2 small bottles of Honey Brown Ale for my Beer Bacon and Jalapeno Peanut Brittle.  (That’s okay.  This ratio approximates, in reverse, the use of space in our closet as relates to my shoes versus his shoes.)

The freezer side is full of white tail venison—back strap, chili-grind, steaks, sausage.  Some wild boar—chili grind, ribs, chops, and roast.  And some elk—ground, steaks, and roasts.  And for some strange reason, which I still hope to understand some day, the remaining space is filled with old milk jugs which have been filled with water and frozen.

In order to reclaim the space that is rightfully meant for cookie dough, and cakes, and the other aforementioned culinary delights, there will be meat feasts in the near future.  In the aftermath of the boys’ hunting season, it’s the ladies’ turn to get their hands on the wild game meat.  The girls,  and some boys will go hog–and venison– wild in the kitchen.   

Now, don’t go getting your heart-healthy sensibilities in a tizzy.  Wild game meat is quite healthy.  Wild animals must work for their food.  They forage, and move about continuously in search of their next bite.  It doesn’t get dropped through a chute into a grain bin, where they access it with very little effort on their part.  Like the more athletic of their human counterparts, these animals have very little fat and lots of lean muscle tissue.  Whereas a farm raised pig is like the Sumo wrestler of the animal world, wild deer or antelope are the distance runners.

Because the meat is so lean, it must be cooked with care.  I know many people, myself included at one point, who “can’t stand the gaminess” of wild game.  Like I profess often, this is usually because they have never had it prepared correctly.  Meat that is this low in fat, should never, never be overcooked.  I know this seems counter-intuitive to many people, who seem to think that cooking the bejeezus out of it will make the gaminess go away.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  It is usually recommended that whole cuts of wild game meats be cooked no more than medium rare.   Due to the low percentage of fat in the meat, it will also be very tough if overcooked.  When ground, it is much more forgiving.

The other thing about wild game, is that it IS wild.  Farm raised meat is fed a regular diet of corn, grass, or whatever other grain is in vogue at the time.  You can expect a fairly consistent flavor from one corn-fed Angus steak to the next.  But with wild game, you have to expect differences.  Elk is very lean, has more nutrients than beef, and is a very mild, almost sweet meat.  White tail and mule deer is even leaner, but has a stronger, wilder flavor. The flavor of the meat is impacted by the diet of the animal, so a mule deer taken in Colorado may taste very different from one taken in West Texas, because the food is different.  The meat may also vary from year to year, in the same location, based on availability, or lack thereof, of preferred vegetation due to drought and other environmental factors. 

With wild boar, there is even another factor.  Pedigree.  When someone says wild boar, it refers to Russian Boar.  This is a wild variety of hog that was brought to the United States in the late 1800’s for hunting.  It runs about 400 pounds, is black with long bristly fur and typically has a very “wild” gamey flavor.  Although they are now found in half of the United States, the wild population has been diluted by breeding with escaped  domestic pigs, which are known as feral hogs.  These domestically raised pigs are the same mild, sweet meat that you buy in the grocery store.  The “wild boars” that are being hunted in the United States today may be pure Russian Boar, or may be less than a generation from a domestic pink pig.  They are likely something in between.  If you get a chance to see the pack, and you see adult boars that are not black, then they have been messing with the domestics.  The more light coats you see, the more dilute the boar line is likely to be. 

Oh, look at me!  Being married to a hunting, fishing  Cowboy with a degree in Range and Wildlife Science has many perks…

Not the least of which is a freezer full of game meat.  It also helps that his family is in the business of exotic game meat. 

If you don’t have a hunting, fishing Cowboy with a degree in Range and Wildlife Science, or a freezer full of various wild game meats, I have included substitution suggestions using readily available meat products.

Also, since most people tend to chicken fry, make smoked sausage or chili out of their game meat, I will focus on other recipes.

Rigatoni In Wild Boar Sauce

Pasta With Wild Boar and Mushroom Sauce

Serves 8

This is bold sauce, with big flavor and body.  Choose a heavier cut pasta, such as Farfalle or Rigatoni.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-10 oz of crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut into thick slices
  • 1 pound wild boar, chili ground (alternately, use pork shoulder or beef)
  • 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon beef base
  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pound of pasta, your choice

In a large, non stick skillet or dutch oven, over medium high heat, heat the olive oil.  Brown the mushrooms in a single layer.  Making sure not to crowd them will insure they brown nicely.  Then add the meat and the garlic, and cook just until the meat it no longer pink on the outside. Add the wine, beef base, tomatoes, basil, pepper flakes, sugar and salt.  Simmer for twenty minutes, or until thickened a bit.  Serve over pasta with fresh shaved parmesan cheese.

Elk Bolognese, With Spaghetti

Elk Bolognese

serves 8

Elk is a very lean, mild, almost sweet meat.  If you don’t have elk, use a combination of super lean ground beef and ground pork loin.  Use a medium bodied pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine.  The secret to Bolognese is the long cook time.  The vegetables should eventually disappear into the sauce, which is where it gets its creamy body, and its concentrated flavor.  If you do not cook it low and slow as directed, you will not get the desired result.

  • 3 t olive oil
  • 3 pounds ground Elk
  • 4 large carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large green bell peppers, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 large basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cans beef consume
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 12 0z can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pasta of choice
  • garnish:  shredded parmesan cheese
  •  and chopped flat leaf parsley

In a dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and the meat.  Cook until the meat is just cooked.  Add the vegetables and cook until slightly softened.  Add the consume, basil and wine.  Reduce heat to medium high, or a low simmer, and simmer–uncovered–for 2 hours, stirring periodically.  Add the evaporated milk and nutmeg, and cook for an hour more.  Add the spices, and cook for 5 minutes.  Serve over cooked spaghetti or linguine.  Top with shredded parmesan cheese and chopped flat leaf parsley, if desired.

Elk Bolognese, With Spaghetti

Seared Venison Back Strap, With Wine and Plums

The most revered, coveted, and fought over cut from a white tail deer is the back strap.  It is a long, piece of very tender meat, and the reason behind many an arm-wrestling match.

  • 2 pounds venison back strap
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 t olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup grape juice
  • 4 red plums, seeded and quartered

Salt and pepper the back strap liberally.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Sear venison on all 4 sides until a nice brown crust is developed, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove to a platter to rest while you finish the sauce.  Add wine, juice, and plums to the skillet, scraping the bottom to loosen any of the yummy crusty bits.  Allow to come to a high simmer, and cook for 10 minutes,  or until the liquid is thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Slice the meat into 1/2″ thick slices, and arrange on serving platter pour sauce over and serve.

White Tail Buck at Victoria Oaks Ranch

For the hunter-gatherers among you who are interested in securing your game meat the old-fashioned way–and I don’t think there is any other way to secure it–check out Victoria Oaks Ranch, near San Antonio, Texas.   We offer South Texas trophy White Tail hunts as well as exotic wild stock such as Black Buck Antelope, Scimitar Horned Oryx or Fallow Deer.

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Categories: Family, Food, Gourmet, humor, recipes, Texas, Uncategorized

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8 Comments on “Girls Go Wild”

  1. 2013/02/13 at 3:03 pm #

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. 2013/02/13 at 3:29 pm #

    That is one huge, sweet looking rack,,,,,,on the deer, on the deer!

  3. 2013/02/13 at 8:51 pm #

    I feel like you could make me like game.

    • 2013/02/13 at 11:58 pm #

      I could! Because I used to hate it! Until I learned how to prepare it properly….no gaminess…

  4. 2013/02/14 at 12:33 am #

    I always like some nice savory wild game. Thanks for sharing and making me want to go find someplace that serves it :-).

  5. literaryphoenix
    2013/02/18 at 10:51 am #

    If my guy’d spend more time hunting he might get lucky prowling in the bushes- the back strap recipe sounds so heavenly!!! I love your exquisite knowledge of game meat. Honestly the gamey flavor was my turnoff, good to know though it can be avoided. hmm maybe I ought to get in the bushes & take a whack at snagging my own… C.L. Bolin, author

  6. 2013/03/16 at 10:53 am #

    Wow, I love bolognese and make it all the time here in New York City, but can only imagine what yours tasted like with wild boar or elk!

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