Coconut Pheasant Soup

 

”All really wild scenery is attractive. The true hunter, the true lover of wilderness, loves all parts of the wilderness, just as the true lover of nature loves all seasons. There is no season of the year when the country is not more attractive than the city; and there is no portion of the wilderness, where game is found, in which it is not a keen pleasure to hunt.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Cooking is a continuous learning process, and working with wild game is no exception.  For me, I tend to focus on building harmonious flavor profiles, and concentrating on that one area takes up more time than I have in a day.  However, there are hundreds of aspects in the cooking process that can all be developed, modified, re-evaluated, and maybe even re-invented.  I try to break myself of solely focusing on flavor medleys and try to improve and learn in different areas.  This recipe, coconut pheasant soup, allowed me to not only work on creating a great flavor profile, but also forced me to look at how textures work together, which is equally important in a dish’s presentation.

I find pheasant meat to have a unique texture.  Many people compare pheasant to chicken.  I don’t think the comparison is accurate when describing pheasant.  Pheasant, like chicken, is a mild flavored meat.  Some meats have very strong and distinct flavors, and working with them can be challenging because they fight with other flavors.  Pheasant is not like that and can be incorporated into a large number of dishes acting as a base for building flavor.

Where I think pheasant differs from chicken is the texture of the meat.  Pheasant is a bit more tough than chicken, which I am sure comes from the differences in how pheasant and chickens live and also how they eat.  Pheasant meat is a bit darker and much leaner than chicken also.  This difference can best be captured by simply pan frying a chicken breast and pheasant breast and comparing the two.  The chicken breast will be moist and light, because of the extra fat in the meat.  The pheasant will be tougher and much drier.  Because pheasant meat can dry out so quickly when cooked, it is commonly marinated, cooked low and slow, or even wrapped in a fat source, such as bacon, to create moisture and tenderness.

I find myself making a lot of meatball recipes because I think the slight toughness that develops when quickly cooking pheasant works well in meatball form.  However, after making a few meatball recipes, I decided that I wanted to try something else with the breast meat.  I am a big fan of Thai food, and especially a hot cup of tom kha gai.  A coconut based soup, tom kha gai is a spicy soup found in Thai and Lao cuisines.  Traditionally, it is prepared using galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, thai chili peppers, mushrooms, and fish sauce.  While chicken is the main protein source for the soup, many restaurants also offer shrimp or tofu options.  Besides having a deliciously sweet and spicy broth, one of my favorite attributes of tom kha gai is how it uses textures to enhance the soup.  The mushrooms are soft and tender, while the chicken, since it is boiled, has a meatier, tougher texture.  A little crunch can also be added with a sprinkling of green onions.  The broth is very thin and silky.

The last time I had tom kha gai, I made a mental note to try and create a version at home using pheasant, since pheasant has that meatier texture that I love in the soup.  So, here the recipe is! And I found it to be a great use of my pheasant.

To a large stock pot, add a tablespoon of cooking oil and heat over medium heat.   I used coconut oil for my cooking oil, but you could use vegetable, canola, olive, or whatever oil you prefer.  Add in the minced garlic, lemon grass, and grated ginger root.  Heat for two minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  If the garlic starts to brown, turn the heat down.  There are three different options for the lemon grass with this soup.  I used two tablespoons of lemon grass paste, which is found by the fresh herbs in a tube.  You could also use a stalk of fresh lemon grass.  The stalk can either be added whole to the soup and removed at the end, or you could mince it up and leave it in the soup.  The paste or minced stalk both add a bit of crunch to the soup, which some people may not like.  If you do not want the bits of crunchy lemon grass, I would suggest just adding the stalk.  I like the crunch, so I went with the paste.  It is really a personal preference on textures, so go with whatever method you find most appealing.

To the garlic and ginger, add one tablespoons of red curry paste.  Stir and coat everything with the paste.  Once incorporated, add a cup of the pheasant stock and dissolve any leftover chunks of the paste.  You also want to break up any thing sticking to the bottom of the pot, as this will add even more flavor to the soup base.  For the stock of this soup, I used homemade pheasant stock.  The recipe for it can be found here: Homemade Pheasant Stock.  You could also use chicken or vegetable stock.

Once the red curry is fully dissolved, add the rest of the pheasant stock, three tablespoons of fish sauce, and a tablespoon of honey.  If you don’t have honey on hand, any sweetener of your choice will do, such as brown or white sugar.  Stir everything and bring to a light boil.  Once the soup base reaches a slow, rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for twenty minutes.  This will reduce the soup base down and concentrate the flavors of the lemon grass, ginger, and red curry.  The lemon grass, which is a culinary herb commonly found in Asian style cuisines, adds a subtle citrus flavor to the soup while the ginger gives a spicy, fresh crisp flavor, and the red curry adds a hint of heat.

After the twenty minutes, bring the heat back to medium and add the three cans of coconut milk.  The milk will create the smooth and silky texture found in the soup, and you can adjust how creamy you want the soup to be based on which coconut milk combination you use.  I used two cans of full fat coconut milk and one can of lite.  You could do three full fat, all three lite, or a combination of the two.  The more full fat cans you use, the thicker and creamy the soup base will be.  Bring the soup base back up to a gentle, rolling boil and add the pheasant meat chunks.  In order for the meat to cook correctly, make sure they are cut into bite size pieces all roughly the same size.  Allow to cook for five minutes.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot and allow the cook an additional five minutes.  With the mushrooms, I used white button mushrooms, but you can substitute in other types.  A lot of recipes use shitakes, which add a nutty element to the soup.  Baby portabellas or crimini would also be great in this soup, as both have an earthy flavor and a slightly meaty texture.

Turn the heat off from the pot and add the final ingredients to the soup: the fresh squeezed lime and orange juices, and the torn Thai basil.  I sometimes struggle with finding Thai basil at my grocery store.  They don’t always carry it.  I tried to substitute in Italian basil, and I didn’t like the way it worked with the curry flavor.  Thai basil has more of a spicy bite to it, while Italian basil can almost be described as sweet.  They are two very different flavors.  If you can’t find Thai basil at your store, I would actually suggest substituting cilantro or green onions instead of Italian basil.

Well, that is it for this coconut pheasant soup recipe!  This soup is easy to put together and has a unique flavor profile of spicy and sweet with a hint of citrus, but it also has great textures and is beautiful to look at!  Enjoy!

Happy Hunting!

Coconut Pheasant Soup

Coconut Pheasant Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pheasant breasts (or about four breasts), chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
  • 4inch piece ginger root, grated
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 4 cups pheasant stock (use chicken or vegetable if you don't have pheasant)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or sweetener of choice: brown sugar, white sugar, etc)
  • 3 can coconut milk (13.5 ounces each)
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 bundle fresh Thai basil, torn into bite size pieces

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat a tablespoon of cooking oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger root, and lemongrass paste to the pot. Cook over medium heat for two to three minutes.
  2. Add the tablespoon of red curry paste to the pot and stir. Allow to cook for one minute.
  3. To the pot, pour in one cup of the stock, stirring to dissolve any remaining chunks of curry paste and to break up anything on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the rest of the stock, the fish sauce, and a tablespoon of sweetener, such as honey. Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow soup base to reduce for twenty minutes.
  5. Add the three cans of coconut milk and bring soup to a gentle boil.
  6. Add bite size pieces of pheasant meat and cook for five minutes.
  7. Add mushrooms and cook an additional five minutes, until mushrooms are soft.
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in the juice of one lime, orange juice, and torn basil leaves.
  9. Enjoy!
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Homemade Pheasant Stock

“Be worthy of your game.” ~ George Bird Evans

Learning to process game meat has been an eye opening experience.  It is a challenging and ever-evolving labor.  Cleaning a harvest is different, not only for different groups of animals, but even for different species within a specific subgroup of animals.  For example, it is obvious that a fish is cleaned differently than a duck, but it isn’t always obvious that a duck may be cleaned differently than a goose, or even another species of duck. Cleaning also varies on how you plan to prepare or use the animal.  I feel I have only touched on the surface of cleaning animals.

Cleaning is just the beginning step of processing game meat too.  Storing and preserving meat is an entirely different story.  And not to mention learning how to use different parts of the animal! We often hear stories of how Native Americans used every part of an animal. Meat was obviously processed and eaten, but hides or feathers were used for shelter creation or clothing, bones could be constructed into tools or weapons, and tendons or sinew could be used to create thread or string.  Of course, those few examples only brush on the surface of how many parts of an animal are useful.

Utilizing the entire animal was definitely a survival tactic for Native Americans, and as a modern day hunter, that drive for survival isn’t quite the same.  However, many hunters strive to use as much of an animal as possible.  Whether this desire comes from a simple curiosity as to what you can come up with to use what you have at hand, or is from a deeper desire to use every part of the animal as a form of respect, there are limitless possibilities on what to create or how to utilize an animal in its entirety, and it is definitely a learning process.

So, while this might be a small step in terms of all the possible things I could use a pheasant for, it is a first step and I enjoyed trying something new with a different part of the bird.  After cleaning all the meat from the pheasant, I saved the carcass and made a simple pheasant stock.  While I was excited to find a use for the leftover bones of my pheasant harvest, my primary drive for creating a pheasant stock developed from a nagging feeling I got when using chicken stock in my pheasant recipes.  For some reason, it bothered me when I would create a soup or sauce recipe for my pheasant meal, but had to use chicken stock as the base.  It seemed silly. So, I made a small batch of pheasant stock from the carcass and can now use that as the base for whatever pheasant recipe I work on next.

For the stock, a few simple ingredients are necessary to help develop a deeper flavor profile.  Aside from the pheasant carcass, you will need carrots, celery, and onion.  I used around four medium sized carrots, three stalks of celery, and two medium sized onions.  You could also add a few cloves of garlic.  To create a little uniqueness in my stock, I also added in a four inch piece of whole ginger root.

Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit and roast the pheasant carcass, celery, carrots, onion, and ginger root for 20 minutes.  There is no need to cut anything up or do any type of prep work before roasting.  The only step I took was the cut the onions in half.  I did not peel the carrots or even remove the onion skin.  If I had added garlic to this stock, I would have roasted the cloves whole as well.

Once the vegetables and pheasant are done roasting, transfer everything to a large pot.  I did remove some of the skin from the ginger root before adding it to the pot, but that was about it.  I left the onions whole and broke the celery in half so it would fit in the pot, but other than that not much work to be done!  At this point, toss in a couple of bay leaves and add enough water to the pot to cover everything by about two inches.  The amount of water needed will vary based on the size of your pot, but it should be somewhere between eight and twelve cups.  I used ten for my pot.  Heat the pot over a medium heat and watch until the water starts to boil.  Once it boils, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let the stock simmer for a few hours, checking occasionally to make sure there is still enough liquid in the pot and that the pot is still just simmering and not boiling.  I let my stock simmer for about four hours.  The liquid reduced from ten cups to eight by the end of the cooking time.

If you are interested in creating a little bit of a different flavor profile for your pheasant stock, instead of using onions you could substitute leeks.  You could also add fennel for a hint of licorice.  Herbs can also be infused into the stock, such as thyme, sage, or basil.  Strain the entire pot through a fine mesh colander, and discard all the vegetables and carcass.  Allow the liquid to cool.  In the end, the stock should be a beautiful auburn color and have a mild savory flavor.

I plan on using my stock within the next couple of days, so I poured it into mason jars and stuck it in the fridge.  It should last in the fridge for about five days.  Canning the stock is another option; however the process for cooking is a bit different.  I prefer to freeze homemade stock that I am not going to use.  I put it in a large Tupperware container and just pop it in the freezer.  It will last indefinitely in the freezer.

This stock has a hint of the richness from the pheasant bones and also a clean, fresh taste from the vegetables.  It is not salty, which took me a minute to get used to.  When using store bought chicken stock, the stock is salted and, for me, that is the main flavor that stands out.  This pheasant stock is a base starting point for any sauces, broths, or soups you might create with it.  Think of the stock as a building block that will enhance and develop flavor in your dish.  This recipe allows you to extract the umami (one of the five basic tastes) to use as an ingredient from a bird carcass or other bones.  It also gives a little more reward to yourself and the animal that provided for you.

Happy Hunting!

Homemade Pheasant Stock

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 25 minutes

2

Serving Size: 4 cups

Homemade Pheasant Stock

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant carcass, cleaned
  • 2 medium onions, cut in half
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 medium sized carrots
  • 1 four inch piece of ginger root
  • 3 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the pheasant carcass, onions, celery, carrots, and ginger root on an ungreased baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. In a large stock pot, place roasted pheasant, onions, celery, carrots, ginger roots, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and pheasant by two inches, about eight to twelve cups.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat.
  5. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce to a simmer.
  6. Simmer the pot for four hours, checking occasionally to see if more water needs added.
  7. Pour the entire pot through a fine mesh strainer and allow liquid to cool. Liquid should be a rich auburn color.
  8. Store in fridge for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.
  9. Enjoy!
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Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

“I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night.” ~ Lady Gaga

I am not always the best pre-planner. If I am headed on vacation, I am the one packing my bags thirty minutes before we are scheduled to leave.  I tend to forget essentials, you know, like my tooth brush.  I do not know why I have to wait until thirty minutes before our scheduled departure to start preparing for my trip, but I do it every time.  And every time, as I am realizing I don’t have any clean socks to pack, because that would require a pre-check of my dresser drawers to ensure there are socks available for my trip, I curse myself for procrastinating.  You would think I would learn my lesson.  Arriving at your destination without pants to wear can be quite unfortunate.  But every vacation, no matter what, I still find myself packing that bag thirty minutes before jumping in the car and hastily roaring away, most likely with a pair of dirty socks, no toothbrush, and pant-less.

This incredible skill of procrastination is also useful in other situations.  This past New Year’s Eve, I was invited to a late night celebration.  I was invited well over a week in advance, and was told to bring three simple things: myself, a drink to share, and an appetizer dish to share.  Guess what was ready with an hour before party time?  Nothing. Not my drink to share, not my appetizer dish, and certainly not myself.

Realizing people would probably not care if I stopped at the store and grabbed a bottle of some drink to share and that I was dressed like a slob (with dirty socks of course), I did think people would notice if I arrived with no appetizer in hand.  I contemplated buying one of those pre-made vegetable or meat and cheese trays, but I figured my fellow procrastinators would also devise this plan and arrive with the same appetizer.

I opened my refrigerator in search of something to throw together, and luck would have it, there was a pack of elk chunk waiting to become my quick, throw together New Year’s Eve appetizer.  I quickly ran the chunk through my meat grinder.  It resulted in about a pound of ground elk.  To the ground elk, I added a cup of panko bread crumbs, some fresh chopped parsley, and a little nutmeg.  I also seasoned generously with salt and pepper.  I also added in one beaten egg and two tablespoons of milk.

I find the best tactic for mixing meatballs is to just dig right in with your hands.  This gets everything incorporated really thoroughly.  Also, it allows you to test the consistency of the meatballs.  If the meatballs feel too wet and things aren’t really sticking together, add more panko bread crumbs.  If things feel to dry, add in more milk.

Since this was a quick throw together appetizer, I used what was available in my pantry to make my meatballs.  If you don’t have, or maybe you don’t like, panko bread crumbs, traditional bread crumbs will also work.  Also, I don’t always have fresh parsley on hand.  I actually never have it on hand, but for some reason on this particular evening I did.  If you don’t have fresh parsley, dried would also work.  You would only need a tablespoon of dried parsley instead of a quarter cup like with the fresh.

Roll the meatballs into balls using about a tablespoon of the meat mixture.  Place them on an ungreased baking sheet.  For easier clean-up, line the sheet with aluminum foil.  Bake the meatballs in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.  The meatballs should be slightly browned and your kitchen should smell delicious!

While the meatballs are roasting away, pull out a crockpot.  Set the crockpot on low heat.

To the pot, add 3/4 to 1 cup of hoisin sauce.  I started with 3/4 of a cup and then added more at the end of I wanted more of the hoisin flavor to stand out.  A beautiful dark amber color, hoisin is a sweet and salty sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine.  It is a pungent sauce packed with a ton of flavor, so start with less and you can always add more.

To the hoisin, add one tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame seed oil, two cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of ground ginger. To help liven up the flavor of the spices in the hoisin sauce, add a tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar.  Give everything a stir and a quick taste.  The sauce should taste salty and a bit spicy.  Now it is time develop the sweetness of this sauce.  I always taste things before I start adding my sweetener to see where things are at.  This is important with the hoisin because it also adds sweetness to the dish, and you don’t want the meatballs tasting like lollipops!  Anyway, slowly add the honey in a drizzle at a time, tasting as you go, until the sauce is where you want it.  If you desire a bit more salt, add a little more soy sauce.  If you want more hoisin flavor, drizzle some more of that in.  I ended up with about a tablespoon of honey at the end.

After the meatballs are done cooking, add them to the hoisin sauce, making sure to coat all the meatballs with the sauce, and you are ready to party!  I took the entire crockpot to the gathering with me, this way everything stayed nice and warm.  To serve the meatballs, sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top.

Meatballs are a great party appetizer.  A pound of meat and a few simple ingredients make a deliciously quick treat.  They can be served using only toothpicks, so there is no need for utensils or plates.  They can also be made in advance and then just added to the crock-pot to heat back up.

These salty and sweet Asian-style meatballs received lots of praise at the party, and no one suspected they were a product of procrastination.

 

Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

20-25 meatballs

Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

Ingredients

    For the Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (more as needed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For Hoisin Sauce
  • 3/4 to 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

    For Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. For easier clean up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground elk, panko bread crumbs, parsley, nutmeg, milk, beaten egg, and salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients. If meatballs seem to wet, add more panko. If meatballs feel to dry, add more milk.
  3. With around a tablespoon size scoop of meat, rolls the meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake in oven for 12 minutes, until meatballs are browned.
    For Hoisin Sauce
  1. Turn the slow cooker on low.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hoisin, rice vinegar, soy sauce , sesame seed oil, garlic, ginger, and honey. Taste to see if it is as sweet or salty as you desire. If you want it a bit sweeter, add a little more hoisin or honey. If you want things a bit saltier add a little more soy sauce. If you want more acid, add a little more vinegar.
  3. Once things taste how you want it, pour the bowl into the crock pot. Add the meatballs.
  4. Allow meatballs to cook in crock pot for ten minutes before serving so everything is evenly warm. Garnish meatballs with sesame seeds and serve using toothpicks!
  5. Enjoy!
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Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

“Sometimes hunting isn’t about hunting at all.” ~ Anonymous

Hey all! I have the pleasure of sharing a deer recipe from a guest blogger this week.  Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwiches is a recipe created by Amanda from the website Deer Recipes: Keeping it Simple.

Amanda is a “deer meat-acholic” and she created her blog with the goal of showing family, friends, and the rest of the world “deer meat is delicious.”  Amanda does all her own game processing and also creates her own recipes.

You can see more of Amanda’s recipes her website: deerrecipes.online or also through her Twitter account or Yummly site.

The Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich is my favorite creation. It’s so full of flavor your mouth won’t know what hit it! The pepper jack cheese gives it a spicy hot kick. Add spicy venison backstrap and fried onions and you have perfection.

This is one sandwich that you’ll make time and time again and the whole family will love it! This is a “whenever” sandwich–it’s great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or whenever and it’s good as leftovers, too. You can make them the night before and have a nice lunch the next day.

Just let it completely cool and wrap it well in a paper towel and then put it in a lunch bag. Then unwrap and heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds, turn it over and heat another 20 seconds. Then watch out because the smell will attract your co-workers!

Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Total Time: 14 minutes

4 Sandwiches

Serving Size: 1 Sandwich

624

30.5g

Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 lb venison backstrap or tenderloin, cut into small thin slices
  • 1 12 oz bottle of Stubb's Chicken Marinade, Citrus & Onion
  • 8 slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 8 slices of Flowers or Sunbeam white Texas Toast
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Instructions

  1. First, fix the small thin slices of venison backstrap or tenderloin. Place them in a bowl and add Stubb's Chicken Marinade, Citrus & Onion and mix it well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Then drain the liquid from the tenderloin slices.
  3. Preheat a large electric skillet to 350 F and add 1 tsp. of olive oil.
  4. Fry the deer slices for no longer than a minute per side--just long enough to be done.
  5. When done, remove them from the heat and place them on a paper towel lined plate for later.
  6. Take a few paper towels and clean the pan using your spatula.
  7. Heat the pan to 250 F and slice the onion and add 1 tsp. of olive oil to the pan.
  8. Lightly fry the onions, which should only take a few minutes.
  9. Set the onions aside for later.
  10. Again, wipe the pan with paper towels and then preheat it to 300 F.
  11. Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and once it's melted, lay two pieces of Texas Toast in the pan, making sure each piece is in butter.
  12. Next, layer the ingredients on one piece of the toast as follows: 1 full slice of pepper jack cheese, tenderloin, onions, 1/2 slice of pepper jack cheese, tenderloin, onions, and then the other 1/2 slice of pepper jack cheese.
  13. Then place the other piece of Texas Toast on top with the buttered side out and put the lid on the skillet so the cheese will melt nicely.
  14. Leave it for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula and lift up the corner of the sandwich and look to see if it is nicely browned. If so, gently turn it over and brown the other side, which should take about two minutes as well.
  15. When done, place the sandwiches in a platter lined with paper towels. This will keep them from getting soggy and will remove any excess butter.
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The good, the bad and the delicious…

  • Grilled Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich is low in sugar.
  • It’s also high in saturated fat.

Please read below, after the nutrition facts, to learn how to make this recipe more diet-friendly.

Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Grade: D+

 Yields: 4 Sandwiches  Serving: 1 Sandwich
 Calories 624  Calories from fat 275
 % Daily Value*
 Total Fat 30.5g  47%
 Saturated Fat 16.6g  83%
 Trans Fat 0.0g
 Cholesterol 76mg  25%
 Sodium 758mg  32%
 Potassium 58mg  2%
 Total Carbohydrates 41.5g  14%
 Dietary Fiber 2.8g  11%
 Sugars 5.6g
 Protein 42.0g
 Vitamin A 16%
 Vitamin C 4%
 Calcium 35%
 Iron 12%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

To make this recipe more diet-friendly…

  • You could use less cheese. Instead of two pieces of cheese to each sandwich, use only one.
  • You could use a healthier, thinner bread, such as Sara Lee® Delightful™ Healthy Multi-Grain Bread, which only has 45 calories per slice.
  • You could use a butter substitute or completely omit the butter.
    • This would create a toasted sandwich.

All of the changes above would dramatically reduce the bad points about this sandwich and make it a diet-friendly sandwich. The calories drop to 248 instead of 624, calories from fat to 92 instead of 275, total fat to 10.2g, saturated fat to 4.8g, cholesterol to 23mg, sodium to 129mg, carbs to 3.5g and Sugars 1.6g. The nutrition grade would still be D+ but that’s because of the lack of essential vitamins.

This recipe can be viewed on Amanda’s own site at Deer Recipes: Keeping it Simple

 

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Wild Turkey Chili: A One Pot Delight!


“When turkeys mate they think of swans.” ~ Johnny Carson

I am always amazed how different wild turkey is from farm-raised turkey. With my first wild turkey harvest, I plucked the entire bird and roasted it in traditional Thanksgiving style. I was so excited for that dinner. I was having Thanksgiving in May complete with mashed potatoes, wild turkey gravy, cranberries, and stuffing. I love the smell a roasting turkey fills the house with, and this wild bird was no exception. Somehow the day was transformed from a typical May evening with sparse clouds, a warming breeze, and blooming flowers to a fall evening, with crisp leaves, a chill in the air, and that beautifully roasting turkey. As I pulled the turkey out the oven and let it rest on the counter, I was bursting with excitement and anticipation of the delicacy before me.

My family sat around the table, and we even shared a few hunting stories about past bird hunts. It was a so much fun! And then we started eating the turkey. It was dry. Really dry. Like chewy, can’t swallow, force a bite down and chase it with a giant gulp of water, dry. I was heartbroken. It had appeared so perfect, the skin was lightly browned and glistening, and it smelled so great. It even felt tender and juicy to the touch while I carved it, but it did not taste that way.

No one really said much about the turkey until long after dinner.

“That turkey was good,” my dad ventured. “But it was, kind of, I don’t know…”

“Dry,” I unenthusiastically replied.

“Yes,” he concurred.

Not only was I disappointed in the turkey dinner itself, as I had tried so hard to roast it at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time, but I felt like I had wasted the bird. I felt bad that I had prepared it so poorly, and I felt basically disrespectful.

After that first turkey experience, I decided to prepare subsequent harvests with more thought and planning. I got creative with how I used my bird, and this also led to using more of the bird efficiently, such as the legs. Typically, the legs are very, very tough and basically inedible on a roasted wild turkey. I make wild turkey and dumplings soup with my legs, and it is easily one of my favorite meals.

So far with the breasts, I have only experimented with grinding. Both of these meatball based recipes were made with pheasant, but they would work really well with turkey too: Marsala Meatballs and Brandy Apples and Onions. I plan on spending this spring working with some other types of recipes with different preparation methods for the breast.

For this chili recipe, I started the same as the meatball recipes by running the turkey breasts through my meat grinder. I used the 3/8″ hole meat grinder plate. It is also a good idea to have the meat at a relatively cold temperature when grinding. This will help to prevent the machine from pulverizing the meat, or as some people term is “mashing” the meat through the plate. A lot of people even partially freeze the meat before grinding it.

After running through the grinder, I drop the meat directly into my ceramic dutch oven, which I just have to quickly add that I love it because it is wonderful for both the stove top and putting directly into the oven. Anyway, I start browning the meat over medium high heat and while it is cooking I dice up a large onion, chop the bell peppers, mince four to five cloves of garlic, and chop up one jalapeno. If you like a lot of heat in your chili, leave the seeds in the jalapeno. If you are not that big of a fan of hot and spicy foods, then I would suggest removing the seeds before chopping up the pepper. Add those ingredients to the turkey and cook until the meat is browned and the onions start to soften, about eight to ten minutes.

On a quick side note, did you know you can freeze your peppers from the garden hole and they are great for use in soups, sauces, stews, and chili’s all year!  Yep, those are frozen peppers in the picture.

To the cooked turkey, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander. A little tip for quick measuring when cooking is to use your hand instead of measuring spoons (although be sure you washed your hands good before this because nobody wants to eat from a dirty palm!) The rough estimate way is done by filling the base of your palm for a tablespoon and the small little cup in the center of your palm for a teaspoon. Since everyone has a bit different size of hand, the best way to find out what this means for your hand is to take a tablespoon and fill your hand with a scoop of something. Make a mental note on how where that fills to on your palm. Do the same for a teaspoon. This is just a little trick I learned from a cooking show, and it just helps save on dirtying measuring spoons, which makes more dishes, which I hate!

For the tablespoon of chili powder, I roughly estimate it in the palm of my hand. It fills basically the entire base of my palm when a slight cup is made with the hand.
For the teaspoon of cumin, oregano, and coriander, I also measure in my hand. A teaspoon fills the base of the little cup your hand makes when slightly cupping your palm.

I also like to add a pinch of nutmeg when I make chili. So, throw that pinch in there, season the pot with black pepper and salt, and drop in three bay leaves. Give everything a quick stir and coat the turkey and onions in all those delicious spices. Add three tablespoons of tomato paste, stir, and let the pot cook for one minute.

After the minute, pour in the red wine. I tend to use a merlot when I make this chili, but any dry red wine will work, such as a pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon. You could also use chicken stock if you are not a wine drinker. The pot should be hot when the wine hits the pan, and it will make this glorious sizzling sound. You want to stir the turkey mixture at this point and break up all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan that the wine has helped release. This adds flavor to the dish!

Next, add in the tomatoes. I use my home-grown garden tomatoes. During the summer, I harvest tomatoes and fill a quart size bag with them. I cut the stem and a little bit of the core out of the tomato, but I don’t remove the skins or do any other prep work. I simply place the bag in the freezer and then dump the entire bag into any soup, stew, or chili that calls for a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. It is easy and tastes great! If you don’t have home preserved tomatoes, you just add a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes at this step.

I have to preface this caption with the fact that this picture is UGLY! I actually went back and forth quite a few times on if I should use it because the tomatoes look…well…gross. In the end, I have decided to stick it on here because I want to show how I literally cut the quart size bag off from around the tomatoes and drop the entire blob into the dutch oven. I don’t even take the time to thaw it.

Finally, it is time to add the beans. I use three 15 ounce cans of beans when I make chili. The type depends mostly on what I have in the pantry at the time, and it generally includes pinto, red kidney, and black beans. But you can add whatever cans of beans you prefer. If you are simply a black bean fan, just use three cans of those babies. If you like a variety, add all three types. Or get crazy and drop in a can of great northern beans or navy beans. It’s totally up to you!  Be sure to drain the beans before adding them in.

Bring everything to a boil, cover the pot, and then drop the temperature down to a low simmer. Let the dutch oven simmer for one hour, stirring every once in awhile. During this time, the flavors will really start to develop and blend together. This chili is a very hearty dish, but because of the wild turkey, it is not a greasy dish. It offers up a beautiful mixture of tomatoes and chili flavor with the hints of cumin and oregano jumping out. And as with most chilis, it is even better the next day!

For serving, pile on some cheddar cheese, maybe a few fresh chopped onion pieces, and a dollop of sour cream. I also enjoy a corn bread muffin for soaking up those juices on the bottom of my quickly emptied bowl. Enjoy!

Happy Hunting!

Wild Turkey Chili: A One Pot Delight!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

8

Wild Turkey Chili: A One Pot Delight!

Ingredients

  • 1 - 1.5 pounds ground wild turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (with or without seeds depending on desired heat level)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz. canned beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, such as a ceramic dutch oven, brown ground wild turkey over medium high heat.
  2. While the meat is browning, chop and dice up peppers, onions, jalapeno, and garlic. Add to the pot as you chop. Cook until meat is browned and onions and peppers are soft, about eight to ten minutes.
  3. To the turkey meat mixture, add chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop in tomato paste and stir. Let cook for one minute. Add in bay leaves.
  4. Pour the wine into pot and stir, releasing bits and pieces from the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and canned beans.
  6. Bring pot to a boil, cover, and reduce to low heat. Simmer the pot for one hour.
  7. Serve chili topped with chopped onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream!
  8. Enjoy!
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Tips for Duck Hunting Beginners: Like Myself!!!

My duck retrieving side kick!

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” ~ Michael Caine

When I was little, every Saturday morning I crawled out of bed just before the sun came up, poured myself an oversized bowl of cereal, parked myself in front of the television, and watched Saturday morning cartoons. Those were good days! Anyway, after the three to four hour cartoon marathon ended, my dad would plop himself on the couch and watch the weekly morning outdoor show that came on.  Sometimes I hung around and watched, other times I got distracted and wandered off.

One of the things I do remember about that Saturday morning outdoor show was the duck hunting episodes.  The host would be dressed head-to-toe in multi-colored camouflage, complete with face paint.  He would have a disguised duck blind semi-buried in the ground overlooking a large lake, and a large Labrador by his side.  After a brief explanation on the area and the ducks he was looking for, he would crawl into his hiding spot and wait.  Soon, a flock of ducks would come flying over, cackling and honking, and skid to a stop on the lake.  The host would pop out of his hiding spot, start firing and knock down a few ducks, and then his lab would leap into retriever action.  I have ALWAYS wanted to do a duck hunt like that.

Now that I am older and learning to duck hunt, I am discovering that duck hunting is definitely a learning process. You don’t just hide in the ground, pop-up, and viola ducks are on the dinner table.  There is a lot to know, and so many different ways to do it.

I was lucky enough to spend the first day of the new year duck hunting.  It was a great way to spend a Sunday, and I already have learned a ton about duck hunting, which I am now going to share here.  So, here are a few VERY beginner tips for duck hunting.

Know the Licenses that You Need!

I know that sounds simple, but it really is the first place to start.  Ducks are classified as a migratory bird.  Other waterfowl falling into the migratory category, in most states, include geese and swans.  Most states have extra criteria you have to meet in order to hunt migratory birds.  I have included a brief description for several states here, as well as a link to their department of wildlife websites for waterfowl management.

Colorado – you will need a small game or combination license, and a $25 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (which are available at the post office and some field offices), as well as a $5 Colorado State Waterfowl Stamp.  In order to purchase a small game license in Colorado, you will first need to purchase a $10 Habitat Stamp as well, which is good for one year.  A HIP number (which is a Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number) must also be obtained. Duck hunting areas are defined to seven different zones: Central Flyaway Northeast Zone, Central Flyaway Southeast Zone, Central Flyaway Mountain Zone, Pacific Flyaway Western Zone, and Pacific Flyaway Eastern Zone. The three Central Zones have a daily limit of six ducks with a possession limit of 18, and the two Pacific Zones have a daily limit of 7 with a possession limit of 21. Limits are different for mergansers and coots, as well as special limits within the defined duck limits so be sure to read up the specifics. Duck season starts dates vary depending on the zone so consult the guidebook for information on dates. 2017 Colorado Waterfowl Guidebook

Idaho – you will need a small game or combination license, a HIP number (which is a Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number), and a $25 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (which are available at the post office and some field offices). Idaho divides duck hunting areas into two separate units: Area 1 and Area 2. Duck season in Idaho for 2016-2017 is follows: Area 1 October 1, 2016 – January 13, 2017 and Area 2 October 15, 2016 – January 27, 2017. The daily limit for ducks is 7, and possession is 21. Limits are different for snipes and coots, as well as special limits within the defined duck limits so be sure to read up the specifics. 2017 Idaho Waterfowl Guidebook

Montana – you will need a small game or combination license, a Conservation License, a HIP number (which is a Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number), a Montana Migratory Bird License, and a $25 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (which are available at the post office and some field offices).  Montana divides duck hunting areas into three separate units: Central Flyaway Zone 1, Central Flyaway Zone 2, and Pacific Flyaway. Duck season in Montana for 2016-2017 runs as follows: Central Zone 1 October 1, 2016 – January 5, 2017, Central Zone 2 October 22, 2016 – January 17, 2017, and Pacific Flyaway October 1 – January 8, 2017 and then January 14 – 18, 2017. The daily limit for ducks is 6, and possession is 18. Limits are different for mergansers and coots, as well as special limits within the defined duck limits so be sure to read up the specifics. 2017 Montana Waterfowl Guidebook

Oregon – you will need a small game or combination license, a HIP number (which is a Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number), and a $25 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (which are available at the post office and some field offices). Oregon divides duck hunting areas into two separate units: Zone 1 and Zone 2. Duck season in Oregon for 2016-2017 is follows: Zone 1 November 2, 2016 – January 29, 2017 and Zone 2 November 30, 2016 – January 22, 2017 . The daily limit for ducks is 7, and possession is 21. Limits are different for snipes and coots, as well as special limits within the defined duck limits so be sure to read up the specifics. 2017 Oregon Waterfowl Guidebook

Utah – you will need a small game or combination license, a HIP number (which is a Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number), and a $25 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (which are available at the post office and some field offices).  Duck season in Utah for 2016-2017 runs October 1, 2016 – January 14, 2017. The daily limit for ducks is 7, and possession is 21. Limits are different for mergansers and coots, as well as special limits within the defined duck limits so be sure to read up the specifics. 2017 Utah Waterfowl Guidebook

Washington – you will need a small game or combination license, and a $25 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (which are available at the post office and some field offices).  You will also need a Migratory Bird Authorization and Harvest Report Card if you are hunting Sea Ducks. Duck season in Washington for 2016-2017 is October 22, 2016 – January 29, 2017. The daily limit for ducks is 7, and possession is 21. Limits are different for snipes and coots, as well as special limits within the defined duck limits so be sure to read up the specifics. 2017 Washington Waterfowl Guidebook

Pick out Your Gear

Gun – Shot gun preference is definitely a personal choice.  There are several different gauges to choose from, and the most popular are 10, 12, 16, and 20.  When looking at the different shotgun gauges, the lower the gauge number, in this case 10, then the heavier the gun to carry around and also the harder the recoil (i.e. that kick your gun likes to give you in your shoulder).  The most popular shotgun is the 12 gauge, and it is a great all-around use gun.  However, as a beginner and starting out with hunting, I have used a 20 gauge.  I used a 12 gauge for my first turkey and the kick was so shocking to me that I dropped my gun (I may, just may, have cried a little…but that’s just me). I switched to a 20 gauge and it really helped me settle into using a shotgun, and also wasn’t so heavy to carry around.  Now that I have practiced more, I can use a 12 gauge.

Shot When hunting migratory bird, federal regulation requires the use of non-toxic shot. What does this mean? Basically, you have to use a shot that if the bird ingests the shot, it will not get sick or die. So, this outlaws the use of lead based shot. Two non-toxic federally approved shots include bismuth and tungsten matrix, but basically just look for the shot that says non-toxic on the box.  Please note that you will need to shoot a couple of rounds of the non-toxic shot if you are transition from the lead used in upland game as the pattern and range is significantly different.  The next major choice is the shot size.  It depends on your setup, expected distances, and type of bird you are hunting, but I have found a shot size of 4 to be a good all around choice.  Finally, select your choke.  My husband set me up with a modified choke because my accuracy is less than perfect, but he always shoots a full for waterfowl.  Again, much of this depends on your setup and what you are hunting.

Camouflage – ducks have great vision, especially for picking out hunters! They also tend to flock towards areas where you have to cross openings to reach them.  Camouflage does help when duck hunting.  The pattern and colors really depend on the area you are hunting. I was out in more a desert area, so I went with a lighter color. Also, it is cold during duck season, and you tend to get wet, so purchasing waterproof and warm camouflage is definitely beneficial.

Decoys and Calls –  This is one area I have not familiarized myself with yet, so any tips would be appreciated in the comments.

Boats – Another topic beyond my experience that I am open to discussion on.  I am thinking about doing a float trip down the Colorado River in a kayak.  Any tips are appreciated.

Find the Ducks!

For a newbie’s point of view, this definitely the most difficult part of duck hunting. I would assume a more seasoned hunter would say that creating tactics for actually getting into shooting range for the ducks is the most difficult, but that is a blog for another day, when I am not such a newbie duck hunter. So, a couple of tips I have for finding those little buggers include: know where there is open water in your area. I stress open because remember, it is December and January, many of the ponds where you think “I see ducks there all the time” are frozen over. I like to hit the river when it gets cold enough that most ponds are frozen over. Also, a great time to head out is actually mid-day because the ducks are sunning themselves. Look for the spot where you would like to be sun bathing in 32 degree weather and there is a good chance the ducks will be gathering here!

Jump shooting is another beginner activity that allows one to avoid all of the intricacies of calling, decoys, camo, etc.  If you are lucky enough to live in an area with vast public lands, grab your dog and your gun and head out to an area with water holes spread out or drive a river and try to sneak up on the ducks using the terrain.  You only get one quick burst of three rounds and the hunt is over for that spot though.  So make sure you have lots of spots to pop up on or your hunting day will only last a minute.

Finally…

Remember you are out hunting and how lucky you are.  I didn’t have a super successful Sunday of duck hunting, but it was still an amazing day. I saw bald eagles that are here to nest for the winter, bucks and does in search of winter feeding grounds, wild turkey out playing in the sun, and got to spend the day with my canine buddies, playing in the mud and water.

How can you say “no” to a day out with that face?

Happy Hunting!

 

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Happy New Year 2017!!!!

Happy New Year to all my family, friends near and far, and everyone stopping by a 12 Gauge Girl at huntingandcooking.com!

Make it a great one!

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