Thursday, February 23, 2017

White-Tail Carne Asada

Back in the early 90's I was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Outside the back gate was a small Mexican joint called Eriberto's. It was kind of  a dive but they made some damn good food and I would find myself there on a regular basis. Men and my friend Kenny Hohimer would head out there after a night of drinking and order the Carne Asada burrito. It was a massive burrito and had to weigh close to two pounds. The meat was a little chewy and it was drenched in guacamole. The damn thing was so big that you would never make it through the whole thing which was great because it only cost about 5 bucks and you would easily get two meals out of it.

I have thought about that burrito often and have even tried a number of carne asada burritos since then. None of them have compared to the deliciousness Eriberto's would serve up. I finally decided it is time that I try my hand at making a carne asada. Carne Asada translates to "roasted meat" and is usually made with beef. I made mine with a white-tail deer roast that I was given. I cut the roast into 1/2 inch thick steaks and seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper before dropping it in the marinade. 

After sitting for two hours in the marinade I was getting a little hungry so I started the grill and got it up to a scorching 500 degrees. I didn't want to cook this for to long so I just gave about 4 minutes per side. 

4 minutes per side was about the right time and the meat was done to a decent medium rare. There was a good char on the corners and the marinade penetrated the meat fairly well but when I do it again I will probably let the meat sit in the marinade over night.

I sliced the meat about a 1/4 inch thick and gave it a squeeze of lime  before mounding it on to a tortilla with a good portion of guacamole. What I ended up with was about as close to the Eriberto's Carne Asada that I have found.

Venison Carne Asada

1 pound of venison steaks
8 ounces of lager beer
1/4 cup corn oil
1 charred jalapeno chopped
2 cloves of garlic
5 bay leaves crushed
3 tablespoons of fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Lay the steak out and salt and pepper them and let sit out for 15 minutes. mix together the marinade then add the steak and let marinade for at least 2 hours preferably overnight. Remove the steaks from the marinade and grill over high heat for about 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and use in a burrito or a quesadilla or any way you see fit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Campfire Cuisine

Last week I hosted a campfire cooking class for the St. Paul community Education. This is a class I have done in the past and I really enjoy doing it. The class doesn't just focus on backcountry camping but that is a part of it. Basically I break camping down into three groups. Cooking over a campfire, cooking with a small camp stove and cooking at a campground or park with all the amenities. There are tones of different choices depending on what you are doing and where you are.

When you are at a park or campground and were able to drive your car right to the camp site you have the luxury of bringing all of your cooking gear with you. In situations like that you really aren't limited at all. You can grill, fry, roast, hell you can even bake if you want to. If you are going to hike 12 miles into the Boundary Waters you are somewhat limited in the amount of gear you can bring. It is my feeling though that you shouldn't be limited in the kinds of foods you bring.

We have all eaten freeze dried meals and plenty of ramen noodles but sometimes that just isn't good enough. I recently wrote and article about Good To-go gourmet dehydrated meals. They are unlike any dehydrated meal I have ever eaten and are legitimately delicious. You could very easily survive a week in the mountains eating very well with them. But sometimes I like variety and certain foods aren't always available. Luckily with companies like Camp Chef they offer the gear to help you with that variety. Their mountain series cook set and stryker 100 are indispensable and travel with me everywhere I go. Whether its into the wilderness or just out ice fishing there is almost no limit to what I can pull off with them. If I wanted spaghetti and meatballs from scratch I could pull it off. If I want to make a vortex egg for breakfast or a pasta carbonara for lunch or chicken and dumplings for dinner I can do it.

Camp cooking isn't hard it just takes some planning. I like to make Orange chicken when I go camping or venison quesadillas. If you do just a little planning ahead it is all very possible. If you have kids like mine they will only eat so many hotdogs before they revolt. I have included a few of my favorite camp meals at the end here give them a try and get outdoors.

Vortex Egg
¼ cup salt
2 eggs
Olive oil
Fresh Herbs

Beat the eggs completely. Boil the water in your stock pot and add the salt. When the water is boiling take a spoon and swirl it until a vortex forms. Drop the eggs in the middle and let is cook for about a minute. With a slotted spoon remove the eggs and drain. Top with one teaspoon of olive oil and fresh herbs.

Chicken and Dumplings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 carrot, diced
16 oz chicken stock
1 pouch of chicken
Salt and pepper  to taste
For the Dumplings
½ cup bisquik
¼ cup powdered milk
½ cavendars greek seasoning
¼ cup water

Pre make the dumpling mix minus the water and store in a ziplock bag.  When you are out and ready to eat smash the garlic and dice the shallot and carrot. Heat the oil in your pot and add the veggies and cook for one minute. Add the stock and ring it to a boil. Mix the water with the dumpling mix and cut one corner of the bag open.  Squeeze the dumpling mix into the boiling stock and cook the dumplings for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for one more minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Spam Musabi
½ cup sushi rice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon Aji-mirin (seasoned rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tsp salt.
1 single serving of spam
1 sheet of Nori paper cut in half.

Bring the water to a boil on the jet boil and then add the rice. Cook for a few minutes then set aside with the cover on for 10-15 minutes. Mix together the wine, mirin, salt and sugar. Fold this into the rice and let sit for five minutes. Sear the spam in your frying pan and then set aside. Place  aquarter of the rice in the middle of the nori and top with the spam and then more rice. Fold the nori over the rice and spam and let sit for a couple of minutes.

Venison quesadilla
1 lbs ground meat
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1  7oz. can green chilis

Season the meat with the seasonings and then brown the meat ahead of time, when the meat is cooked add the green chilis and store in a freezer bag until ready to use. When you are ready to assemble the quesadillas place cheese in the middle of a tortilla and top with some  of the meat mixture. Top with another tortilla and cook on a griddle with some butter until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Orange Chicken
For the marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cooking rice wine
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup corn starch
1 pound chicken cut into one inch pieces

Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, yolk and starch and whisk together. Once the marinade is combined add the chicken once that is done you can put it in your cooler until you are ready to make it.

In small batches take the pieces out of the marinade and fry the chicken in oil and make sure the pieces don’t stick together. Fry the chicken for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Set the fried pieces of chicken aside and pour the oil out of the pan.

For the sauce
Zest one orange
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon sriracha or similar chili sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and whisk them together once they are mixed put them in a sealed Tupperware container and save for when you are ready. Heat the pan over medium high heat and add the sauce to the pan. Add all the chicken pieces back into the sauce and heat until the sauce thickens. Toss to coat all the pieces and serve with rice.

Maple toasts with soft cheese
1 piece of sour dough bread
1 ½ tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Cheese of your choice

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the syrup. When the syrup is sticky and bubbling add the bread. The bread will absorb the butter and syrup mixture quickly so after it hits one side flip it over so the other side gets coated as well. Cook the toasts until lightly golden on both sides and serve with soft cheese. I like a stilton or camembert.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Grilled Cheese using Upland Game Birds

Its not very often I get to cook something I have never had before. I have never hunted or eaten Hungarian partridge before and this past summer a buddy of mine Josh Dahlke was having some freezer issues and I took a bit of meat off his hands. Most of that meat needed to be dealt with right away but a few things like the partridge went into my freezer for later use. Josh had told me that he hate to let the go and only now that I have cooked them and ate them do I understand why. Of all the game birds that I have eaten I can easily say that these partridge are among the best I have ever had.

They aren't big birds and I would say they are about the same size as a roughed grouse. the biggest difference being the color of the meat. These partridge have a very beautiful reddish color to them. I had never cooked partridge before and truthfully had know idea what I was going to do with them. Then Netflix released a couple seasons of the Wild Chef with Martin Picard. In the very first episode he cooks partridge and makes a beautiful grilled cheese sandwich. I now had a plan and a free afternoon so I gave it a shot.

This is a very simple sandwich, it doesn't require a lot of ingredients but I will say if you are going to get the best results out of this sandwich regular old white bread and cheese slices aren't going to do it. Buy some nice sourdough bread and splurge a little on some nice cheese. For my sandwich I went with Gruyere because I love the nuttiness of the cheese and when it melts it has a very nice texture.

Season your breast liberally with salt and pepper and then sear them in a pan with a little butter. It doesn't take long only about 2-3 minutes per side to get a nice carmelization on them.

When the breasts are done cooking set the aside for a couple of minutes before slicing them. Meanwhile leave your pan over the heat and deglaze the pan with some beer. Nothing to powerful just a nice lager. If you are looking for a great beer try Fulton's Standard Lager it has become my new favorite beer. Add about a half cup more of the beer and stir in 2 tablespoons of roasted garlic until you have a nice sauce. Add the slices of partridge back to the pan and stir to coat all the pieces.

To assemble your sandwich cut some thick slices of sourdough bread and brush all sides with mayo. Evenly distribute the partridge across the bread and cover with grated gruyere. Grill over medium heat until the bread is nice and golden brown. One of the things Chef Picard did was throw a couple of sprigs of Rosemary on the grill pan and grill the sandwich right on top of it. this infused the sandwich with even more great flavor. This was easily one of the best sandwiches I have ever had and would be wonderful with pretty much any upland bird. I might even try it with duck if I get a chance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Salmon Curry with Wild Rice

If you were to look at cooking and eating wild game, fish and foragables as a Rabbit hole then you could probably safely say that I am well on my way to Wonderland. After trying everything I can in as many different ways as possible I have built up an extensive history of both failures and successes. I have tried to use local wild ingredients in as many different dishes at home as I can and have used the fish I catch and animals I hunt in every type of cuisine from around the world as I can. That said I haven't even scratched the surface of the endless possibilities that the world has to offer when I comes to wild food.

For the past few years I have been going over to Lake Michigan with my father-in-law and brother-in-law to catch salmon. I have smoked, baked, grilled, poached, cured, ground and even fried it just to see what was possible. Then I came across a recipe for a quick salmon curry stir fry in Jamie Oliver's  food revolution cookbook. It looked simple and I do love curry so I put it on the list of things I wanted to try. One of the things that drew me to the recipes was that it called for wild rice. I have only recently (in the last two years) began to love wild rice. Growing up it never appealed to me and every time I ate it I was turned off and disappointed.

This little stir fry turned out to be one of the biggest surprises I have ever had. I figured the salmon and curry combination would be good but what I did expect was how well wild rice and coconut curry go together. I was quite seriously blown away by it. So much so that I had to make it again a few days later just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and it wasn't. I could very easily see making a curry gravy just to pour over some wild rice. If you like curry and you like wild rice I highly recommend you give it a try.

Salmon curry with Wild Rice

Adapted from a recipe in Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver
this will serve 6-8 depending

1 1/2 lbs. salmon fillet (skin off and bones removed) - cut into 1-inch chunk
3 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 handful of raw shelled peanuts (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons of curry red paste
8 oz. fresh snow peas
2 14 oz. cans coconut milk
1 lime
3 fresh red chili, finely sliced
Small bunch of fresh cilantro , separate the leaves and stems and then finely chop the stems
Canola oil

  1. Put your wok or large frying pan on a high heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of Canola oil. Sauté the garlic, ginger, most of the chopped chili, and the cilantro stalks for 30 seconds
  2. Add the curry paste and stir for another 30 seconds. Add in the salmon, cook for a minute or so, then add the snow peas and coconut milk. Cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Turn off the heat
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves, the remaining of the chilies, peanuts and a wedge of lime. Serve with wild rice

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Marlin Involtini

If you have read this blog for any amount of time you have probably noticed that I get a lot of ingredients from people I know. This Marlin might be my favorite. My sisters, friends, dad caught this marlin while on vacation and it has made its way to me. I was given two large packs of frozen fish and told, we thought you might know how to use this. As it turns out it took me a while to figure out how to use it. I grilled the first pack and that grilled marlin was some of the best fish I have ever had. I was tempted to just grill the second pack in a similar way but  curiosity go the best of me. 

In my limited knowledge of marlin I sort of equate them to a smaller swordfish. So when I was looking through Mario Batalli's book Babbo I came across a recipe for swordfish involtini. Basically thin strips of fish that are rolled up with breadcrumbs and seasonings inside them then simmered in tomato sauce. It seemed simple enough and sounded pretty good so I gave it a shot.

This was another great way to cook marlin, the texture of this fish reminded me of chicken. It was tender but not flakey like other fish. The sauce was a perfect addition as well. the raisins and pine nuts added a little sweetness to the sauce that balanced it out perfectly.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Looking Back at 2016

I think we can all agree that 2016 was a rough year. It was by far my worst year of hunting in a long time as far as putting meat in the freezer myself. But there were several highlights that made it tolerable for me. Probably the biggest highlight for me was that I started writing for and am very proud of the work I have done over there. I also had a few of my recipes featured in the October issue of Outdoor life and another magazine called Make it Minnesota.

One of the other big highlights for me was that I got to spend a week in the mountains of Colorado bow hunting for Elk. I didn't get an elk this year but it was a great experience and definitely lit a fire in me to return the mountains and try again.

As I mentioned before I wasn't very successful in the hunting department this year but still managed to get some meat in the freezer thanks to some friends of mine. I should have plenty to keep me writing about for the next year. I was also very successful this last fall in the foraging department and found a shit ton of mushrooms. Hopefully my luck will change in 2017 and I can start getting some fish through the ice.  Here are a few of my favorite dishes from last year.

Smoked fish spread with horseradish

Buffalo Liver Braunschweiger

Corned Buffalo Roast

Nettle Agnolotti with a Ramp and ricotta filling.

Nashville style hot squirrel, Might be my favorite thing I made all year.

My curried walleye with tropical fried rice was delicious but many people did not like that I would abuse walleye in such a way.

I had a Great trip over to Lake Michigan that inspired many meals.

Pate de fruit made with a mixture of berries I foraged in my neighborhood.

Fresh from my garden and turned into zucchini relish and featured in Make it Minnesota Magazine.

Buffalo liver wrapped in caul fat. These were then seared in a pan and topped with a fig vinaigrette

Another one of my favorites, Wild turkey enchiladas.

I tried out pigeons this year and was amazed at how good they were.

My version of General Tso's chicken made with Chicken of the woods Mushrooms.

Wild Turkey Confit Aranchini

Roasting hen of the woods mushrooms.

Kai Wot, an Ethiopian stew made with venison

2016 wasn't all bad it just seemed like it. I had a lot of good things happen and 2017 looks like it is going to be a lot of fun as well. I will be teaching some classes with St. Paul Community Ed and am going to be cooking on the Gander Mountain cooking Stage at Pheasant fest in February. I have already started planning an Antelope hunt in October and another Elk hunt in November. I still have some time left to get out after some squirrels and will be heading north for some ice fishing in the coming weeks. I can't wait to see what adventures 2017 brings.