Last year I was approached by Cooks Of Crocus Hill and asked if I would be interested in teaching a class about cooking wild game. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that anybody would ever read this blog let alone ask me to teach a class based on the things I write here. The team at Cooks did a great job of getting the class set up and on the 2nd of January 2015 I taught my first class called Classics with a Twist. I thought the name was great and until I heard it hadn't realized that I do take classic dishes and put a wild twist on them.
I do some writing for a blog called Simple, Good and Tasty where I have written a series of articles called Hunting For Dinner. Many of those articles have been about classic dishes that I have changed to incorporate wild game. Fried Chicken and waffles morphed into Fried Squirrel and waffles. I turned the almost inedible coot into Cootechino and many other recipes. For my class I was going to do three of my favorites. Fried panfish spring rolls, pheasant and dumplings and a juniper roasted venison loin.
My fried panfish spring rolls were a big hit served with a traditional Thai dipping sauce. Due to a problem sourcing blue gill or crappie I ended up using ocean perch but I am pretty sure this recipe would be delicious using just about any fish.
My pheasant and dumplings recipe is one of the simplest recipes you will find and can be used on just about any kind of small game. I have used it on squirrels and pheasants and I would bet it would be great on grouse or even wild turkey legs and thighs.
I will admit upfront that doing this class was a stretch for me, I was incredibly nervous. I don't know why, I had cooked these dishes many times in the past. I think I was just worried that I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure of putting out food for 15 people on a specific timeline. I am not a professional chef I have no idea how to work in a big kitchen. The staff at Cooks were extremely helpful and really made me look good.
The main dish of the evening was the juniper roasted venison loin. Because of certain restrictions I wasn't able to use wild venison and had to use farm raised venison. These are venison tenderloins from Durham ranch. I was very impressed with the quality of the meat and was able to cook it perfectly.
The venison and the bourbon cream sauce were a big hit and hopefully some of the class who had never had venison before were convince to make it a part of there future meals.
I was shocked that all of the people who came to the class had never read any of my blog posts most of them didn't even know I had a blog. They were exactly the kind of crowd I was hoping for. I don't want to come across arrogant but, the name of this blog is You Have to Cook It Right and I am certain that if people who don't like wild game were to have had any of the dishes I made that night I would be able to convert them.
As a special treat the folks at cooks had asked me if I would throw together some kind of dessert. Since I am not really known for my dessert I thought I would serve up some Glug and make it into some Ice Cream. Pretty much everyone agreed that it was the best Ice cream they had ever eaten.