“Use the whole animal – as much as possible, if possible.” “Don’t lose the point of cooking wild game by masking the flavor.” “Use proper cooking methods for cutting.” “Cook with respect.”
That’s the formula for success in wild game cuisine from Joshua Schwencke, culinary anthropologist and chef from Texas. Choose your recipe based on the cut of meat to let the flavor and richness of the meat shine through. This way hunters can fully honor the animal they have taken from the wild.
Here are two recipes that use braising to tenderize and intensify the flavor of game.
Osso buco is an “Italian grandmother” dish, according to Schwencke, and can be made from cross-cut venison shank. Have the processor cut the hindquarter shank (forequarter shank will work too) into cross-cut pieces, or try using a reciprocating saw to make the cuts yourself. The resulting cut of meat has a good hunk of muscle and bone, which will impart good flavor in the cooking process. The presentation is also very nice when served on a saffron risotto (traditional), a parmesan mushroom risotto or with a simple mashed potato.
- 4-5 pieces of shank, 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick
- All purpose flour mixed with salt and pepper to taste
- Red wine to deglaze the pan
- 1 can of premium tomato sauce
- 2 cans of whole Roma tomatoes
- 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1-2 white onions, chopped
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped (more if you like garlic)
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Dried marjoram
- Dried parsley
- Beef broth for braising liquid
- Fresh basil, chopped
Dip the shank pieces in seasoned flour. Using a Dutch oven or an enameled cast-iron skillet with a lid, sear the shank pieces in the olive oil until a crust forms. Remove from the pan and deglaze with the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any crusty bits that cling (also called “bottom”). Return the shanks to the pot with the vegetables and dried herbs. Add enough beef or game stock to cover and bring to a boil. Finish in the oven at 300 degrees with a lid on for about an hour until the meat is tender. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.
Kaldereta is a Filipino dish that combines a rich sauce and hearty meat in a flavorful stew. Like any good slow cook recipe, the steps to making it are more of an art form than a procedure, but use the following as a guide to turning your venison into a masterpiece. David Montesino, HCN’s editor, said each kaldereta is a little different, but his version below, with adaptations for game meat, absolutely requires the signature flavors of pineapple, lemongrass and lemongrass. the tomato.
Using the filling from a venison shoulder or ham (venison, elk, or pronghorn will work), cut 2 to 3 pounds of meat into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes, removing all the silvery skin. Add olive oil to an enameled cast iron pot or Dutch oven and sear the meat until dark brown. Remove from pot. Deglaze the casserole with the red wine and add the liquid to the meat. Set aside off the heat while you prepare the sauce.
For the sauce, combine the following and sauté in olive oil.
- 3-6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1-2 bell peppers, chopped
When the onions are translucent, add:
- 2 cups pineapple, mashed
- 2 cans premium canned tomato sauce
- 1 stalk lemongrass, beaten with the back of a knife to release flavor
- 1-2 star anise
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- Salt and pepper (depending on the broth used, do not over-salt)
- Beef broth (or homemade game broth) to cover
Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the meat (and more broth if needed) and add:
- 5-6 new potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for at least 90 minutes. Test the tenderness of the meat. Before serving, remove the bay leaves and star anise, and stir in:
Serve over white rice and garnish with green onions or chopped scallions.