Looking Back at 2015 and Looking Forward to 2016

I have been doing an end of year wrap up for this blog every year and this year will be no different. 2015 brought with it a lot of new opportunities for me and pushed my comfort zone a little. 2016 looks like it is going to be more of the same. This last year started with me teaching a class at Cooks of Crocus Hill. It was the first class I had ever taught about cooking wild game and none of the people who signed up for it knew it was going to be about wild game. It was a fun night and a lot of the participants tried things they would never have tried so that was a lot of fun for me. So lets take a look back at some of my favorite creations.

This was a Mallard duck that I had shot and then deboned and stuffed with dates, walnuts, sage and it Italian sausage.

I had shot a Sandhill crane and in an effort to use as much of the bird as possible I braised the leg and thigh portions and made these steam buns.

I wanted to make a burger this year that would blow my socks off and this blue cheese stuffed venison burger did that and more.

Without a doubt I can say that this was the best thing I made all year. It might be the best thing I have ever had. It was a bowl of duck ramen made with homemade duck stock and duck breast from birds I hunted.

One of the highlights of my year was finally getting up to the North Shore and netting some smelt. I didn't come home with barrels full but I did get enough to cook several smelt themed dishes. I still have some left.

My son just wants to help with everything and was a big help with the stinging nettle gnocchi.

I caught the biggest walleye of my life down on the Mississippi River, this big one went back in the water but I caught a few others that made it to the prying pan.

This walleye wrapped in Ramps and bacon was a huge success.

I steamed some walleye with Ramps, bay, lemon and thyme.

This was a lightly fried walleye fillet on a bed of mushrooms and topped with butter poached horseradish. It may sound like a strange combo but I assure you it is.

Walleye in a coconut curry sauce, Enough Said.

I can't believe that this was the first time I had ever cooked anything on a cedar plank. These trout fillets were fantastic.

This was one of those dishes that I just had to sit and look at. On the bottom is a corn cake topped with a fried green tomato then pimento cheese and Home cured bacon. it is surrounded by fried oysters and rhubarb barbecue sauce.

Duck heart terrine.

I tried to up my presentation game and made this birch serving board. On the board are pickled pike and pickled duck gizzards.

Seared duck breasts on a bed of wild rice served with a highbush cranberry sauce.

My gizzard game was strong this year in addition to pickling gizzards I corned a bunch of gizzards and made this gizzard hash.

I also made these corned duck gizzard Rueben Bites

Sandhill Crane Au Poivre

Buttermilk Fried Ruffed Grouse

One of my absolute favorites Elk tongue Tacos

Sharp-tailed grouse covered in a white wine cream sauce.

I have been working on smoking more things and this smoked lake trout was encouraging.

Showing a little of my German side I made this Elk Rouladen.

One of the simplest things I have ever made Seared Northern Pike with almost Burnt Cream.

Over the summer I started using sumac and made a wonderful sumac lemonade that was a refreshing mixer with Proseco.

I found an Elder berry bush in the early part of fall and made elder berry ice cream.

I finally got around to set out some crayfish traps and caught about 10 pound of crayfish.

I had a bumper crop of Habanero's this year and made my own hot sauce. I am going to try and make buffalo wings with this.

Sumac and cocoa crusted deer loin, it was amazing.

I was out chasing squirrels in September and stumbled across this massive Hen of the Woods mushroom. I froze some and dried the rest and still have some to use.

Using that mushroom and the squirrels I shot that day I made a squirrel stroganoff.

This turkey was actually jumped up by a deer that I spooked and came running right at me. I shot it at about 10 yards while it was running straight for me.

Wild Turkey Piccata.

Wild turkey confit with Jarlsberg cheese and highbush cranberry jelly.

I didn't shoot very many ducks this year but the few I did bring home were made into a southwest style duck stew.

My good buddy Rick grew me some corn this year and dried it and sent it to me. I have been trying to use it as much as possible.

The corn is supposed to be all green some of the corn must have cross pollinated with some corn from Wisconsin.

The corn bread was amazing.

Green grits and eggs sounds like a Dr. Seuss story. In the New Year I am hoping to master the art of making Tamales.

Rick also raised me a pig this year and this was the first batch of bacon I made.

I rolled a Pancetta as well.

Elk Enchillada

Crayfish risotto.

One of the things I am most proud of this year is that I was asked by Outdoor Life Magazine to contribute to their new online blog Called the Cast Iron-Chef all about cooking, butchering and using wild game. This Orange Pheasant was one of the article I wrote for them.

This was a duck , apple and sage sausage served on a bed of potatoes and topped with pickled chicken of the woods mushrooms.

One of the last things I made this Year were these Elk Pierogies, they will be up on the Outdoor Life page soon.

2016 looks Like it is going to start off with a bang, I might be going on a buffalo hunt in January. There are a number of things taking place next year. I am going to be doing a few more classes, more details on those as they come. If you haven't already looked up Whitetail Rendezvous make sure you check them out. I have been working with them and hopefully this year we will be putting out an e-book about venison cookery. I will continue to write here as often as I can an I will be writing for Outdoor life weekly. If you have any suggestions or things you'd like to see let me know. I may be investing a little more time and money into this and might be looking into starting my own website as opposed to a hosted one. If there is enough interest. Have a safe and happy New Year and remember to try something new .