Hunting For Dinner


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Hunting for Dinner …by Judie Steeves

Whether you hunt through the meat section of the supermarket or butcher shop, your own fridge or freezer, or in the wild for your meat, it’s vital that you prepare and cook it right to prevent toughening or drying it out.
Particular care needs to be paid to cooking game meats as there’s little of the extra fat we’ve bred into domestic animals.
When we lived in wilderness in the Cariboo our nearest ranch neighbours were miles away, while our closest were the grouse who competed with our domestic chickens for the bugs in my garden; the moose who chewed on willow twigs in winter and spring, and aquatic plants in the pond in our front yard in summer and fall; the beaver who dammed our creek so it created the pond the moose loved; bears who would compete with us for summer patches of wild dwarf blueberries; the porcupine the dogs chased up a tree; shy rabbits whose presence became obvious as soon as it snowed; and delicate deer who nibbled my lettuce before I did.
It was a love-hate relationship with many of them, just as it often is with siblings or neighbours you have to live with and put up with their annoying foibles.
Come fall, we all began to prepare for the long winter which loomed ahead, and which could mean life or death, depending on our preparations.
The rabbits changed colour, in order to blend in better with their surroundings, the moose grew a thicker coat of fur, ducks and geese headed south, bears ate heartily in preparation for hibernation, squirrels hoarded pine cones, and we slaughtered our pigs, insulated the chicken coop, and hunted for game to put in the freezer.
Whether it’s a breast of grouse, pheasant or other game bird, a haunch of venison, moose or bear, care must be taken not to overcook the meat or it will resemble shoe leather.
Instead use recipes that call for liquid in cooking, whether that be wine or beer, a sauce, water, broth or stock, or juicy vegetables or fruit such as tomatoes; whether a few tablespoons or a few cups.
Consider marinating the meat overnight with a meat-tenderizing agent. Try fermented liquids such as alcohols, vinegars, or soy sauce, or acids such as lemon or other citrus juice, tomatoes or vinegars.

Grilled Game Kabobs
The piece of bacon wrapped around each square of meat adds flavour, but also keeps the meat moist. You may substitute beef.

1 lb. tenderloin squares 454 g
l/2 lb. bacon 225 g
cherry tomatoes
onion squares
green pepper squares

You could use tougher cuts of meat by marinating it first as suggested above, then treat it as you would tenderloin. Even domestic tenderloin has a tendency to be dry, so would benefit from being cooked in this way.
Cut meat into one-inch squares and wrap each in a thin piece of bacon, using as little as needed just to wrap each piece of meat.
Alternate meat pieces with vegetable squares and cook over a hot fire until the bacon has crisped, moving the skewers about when flare-ups occur.
You must pay attention to these as they cook or you’ll end up with charred bits of inedible leather.
This makes a simple camping meal as there are no dishes involved.
To take that one step further, remove kabob contents directly into a half pita bread, opened up and spread with yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise or barbecue sauce, so dinner can be eaten in the hand. No clean-up at all.
Serves 2-4, more as an appetizer.

Grouse with Grapes
The moisture from the grapes and wine keeps the delicate breast meat moist and flavourful.
If you don’t have a grouse breast, use whatever other poultry is available.

2 grouse breasts 2
1 onion 1
1 c. grapes 250 ml
1/2 c.white wine 125 ml
2 tsp. tarragon 10 ml
2 tsp. parsley 10 ml
1/2 tsp. salt 2 ml
1/4 tsp. pepper 1 ml

Soften a chopped onion in a dribble of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
Push them to the side and brown the breasts on both sides.
Add dry white wine, grapes, fresh herbs and salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes until breast is cooked through but some liquid remains.
Serve over brown rice.
Serves 2.

Corned Meat
This is delicious.

5 lb. meat 2.3 kg
4 qt. cold water 4 l
2 c. pickling salt 50 ml
1/2 c. brown sugar 125 ml
2 tbsp. pickling spices 30 ml
10 black peppercorns 10
10 bay leaves 10
5 cloves garlic 5 cloves

Brisket is a cheap cut of beef that’s most commonly corned. It’s excellent used for this, as is moose, venison or bear.
Combine cold water, coarse picking salt, dark brown sugar, whole pickling spices and peppercorns in a large pot and boil for 10 minutes or so.
Cool down completely before adding peeled garlic cloves and pouring over meat in a large glass jar or bowl, enameled casserole or stoneware crock.
Weigh it down with a plate holding a bowl or jar of water or sand so the meat is completely immersed in the liquid.
Cover and store in a cool place for two weeks.
Use meat immediately in a boiled dinner.

Corned Beef or Venison Dinner
This is traditionally served with wedges of steamed cabbage, boiled potatoes and other root vegetables.

5 lb. corned meat 2.3 kg
2 onions 2
2 celery stalks 2
5 peppercorns 5
1 bay leaf 1

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Remove meat from brine and wash it well to remove excess salt and spices, and discard brine. The home-corned meat will have turned brown because no sodium nitrate was used to keep its red colour.
Place in a large Dutch oven and add cold water to cover.
To reduce the saltiness of the meat, simmer it first for 10-15 minutes, then drain the water off and refill.
This time add chopped onions, celery, cracked black peppercorns and bay leaf.
Cover and cook in the oven until tender, about 3 hours.
Remove and slice.
Leftovers make great sandwich meat.
Serves 6-8.

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