Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Year Two of ‘Tag Soup’ has convinced me to come up with a recipe for it.

1 Set of Unfilled Tags*
8 cups beef broth (or 4 beef, 4 vegetable) 14 OZ can diced tomatoes (I like to get the garlic flavored ones)
1 onion chopped
4 potatoes peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
Put the broth in a large stock pot and set the heat to medium-high

Add the vegetables and bring to a boil

Try to ignore all the time, money and effort you put into hunting this year, while plotting next years hunting season.

Stare at the unfilled tags.Ground Wild Sausage

*Substituting 1 lb of ground beef, browned cubed beef, or somebody ELSE’S ground venison makes a better soup.

I’ve hunted mostly Joe Kurz WMA for the last two years, with a few days at a new lease near Rome, GA.  Neither one is close enough to the house for half day or quick hunts, really.  I need to find someplace half an hour or so away, rather than an hour and a half.



I’m often amazed at the people, deer hunters included, who tell me they just don’t like venison. That statement is usually followed by a qualifier: it’s tough; it’s gamey; it’s dry. And so on.

I’ve eaten a lot of good deer meat. But I’ve eaten some really bad deer meat, too. I’m only a self-trained butcher, but I process five or six animals each fall, and have been doing so for a decade or more.

I’m no Scott Leysath, either, but my wife and I do eat venison in some form two or three meals per week, year-round. I think we eat pretty good.

Some things consistently make venison really tasty. And some things will ruin the flavor, too. Here are a dozen of the worst offenders.

1. Poor Field Care

In the real world of hunting, things happen. We all make bad shots on occasion. And while we know not to “push” a deer that’s been hit marginally, realize that the longer it takes for the animal to die and the farther it runs, the more adrenaline and lactic acid builds up in the animal’s system and muscles. Ever had a glass of good-tasting acid? I didn’t think so.

The faster a deer hits the ground and can be field-dressed, the better the meat will be. Some of the best-tasting deer I’ve ever had have been shot in the head with a gun. The animal is killed instantly, and the meat is uncontaminated by blood and entrails from the chest cavity. That said, head shots are risky. The lungs remain the best place to aim.

click to go to the full article at Realtree

click to go to the full article at Realtree

2. Failure to Cool Quickly

Internal bacteria rapidly takes over after death, expelling gases and causing the animal to bloat. That’s the first step in decomposition. This process is accelerated in warm weather. Learn how to field dress a deer, and get to it ASAP. Removing those organs is the first step in cooling the animal down.

On a cold night—in the mid-30s or lower—a deer can be left hanging skin-on overnight. In especially cold weather, some hunters like to age a deer in such a manner for several days (more on aging in a bit). I live in a warm climate, and most of the deer I shoot in a season’s time are during early bow season, so I don’t have that luxury. When I find my deer and get it field-dressed, I plan on having it skinned, quartered and on ice within the hour.

3. Shot the Wrong Deer

Modern deer hunters are in tune with deer herd management. We’ve learned of practices that contribute to the health of a herd, including which deer to shoot. Given the chance, most of us want to shoot a mature buck with big antlers. Me included.

Old bucks are perfectly edible, but rarely the best. Muscles get tougher with use and stringy with age. An old buck that’s spent a full autumn fighting, rubbing, scraping and chasing does will be lean. Expect chewy steaks. Same thing goes for an old doe that’s burned all her summertime calories producing milk to nurse fawns. I usually make hamburger, sausage and jerky out of such animals.

For steaks, you can’t beat a young, crop-fed deer. Deer that spend a summer munching on corn and soybeans have an easier life—and more fattening food sources—than those that spend a lifetime wandering the big timber in search of scattered mast and browse.

The tastiest venison I’ve ever eaten came from a 1 ½-year-old fork horn shot through the neck near a picked corn field during early bow season. That young deer had nothing to do all summer except get fat. Am I saying to forgo everything the QDMA is teaching and whack every young buck that walks by? No. But I am saying if a deer for the freezer is your goal, young bucks from the early season are usually good eating, and have more meat than does to boot. If you want to shoot one and it’s legal, go for it. You don’t owe anyone an apology.


Read the rest of the tips at Realtree

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As a side note, IF you end up with terrible tasting venison, you can simply BRINE the meat to leach the nastiness out of it, then cook it however you like.   To brine the meat, mix salt, sugar, and water at room temperature, mix until the salt and sugar dissolve, then soak the meat for a few hours to overnight. You can also add in seasonings during the brining to help with the flavor.  – Niko


Venison backstrap from a gnarly ol’ buck brining in salt, water, and sugar


After slicing, marinating in soy, worchestershire and hickory salt, a few hours in the oven produced LOVELY jerky.


by Ben O’Brien | March 21st, 2014
Petersens_meat_eatersI’m just going to come out and say it: Right now intellectual foodies might just be saving hunting.

Some call them culinary pioneers, others call them counter-culture loving hipsters. No matter the label, it seems our little hunting club is getting bigger. There’s no way around it.

Finally, the mainstream is digesting what we’re serving, and it’s time we recognized it’s a good thing. Hunting is growing in scope and numbers, and those who go afield after organic eats are pushing the needle. There are facts to back it up.

A report released last September by the Virginia-based research group Responsive Management explains in real terms why hunting is growing in popularity after 35 years of decline. From 2006 to 2011, the study says, hunting participation nationally increased 9 percent. The new hunters likely causing much of the uptick in participation are younger, more female and suburban, in college or in the military. Urban hunters are increasing, too.

You heard that right…urban hunters. As the world has evolved and consumption of food has become less about the why and more about the how fast, droves of previously disinterested Americans are suddenly willing to consider killing, cutting, and cooking their own meat. This isn’t your granddaddy’s old redneck stereotype. We’re talking about a new breed.

But how did we get here?

From 1958 to 1975 the number of licensed hunters in America generally increased, the study says, before hitting a plateau in the mid ’80s. Then things went into a general decline for decades with hunting not only facing stronger opposition, but also an even more dangerous absence from pop culture.

Here’s the reasoning, “In both hunting and fishing, the decline in participation from the peak in the 1980s is partly attributed to a broad demographic change in the United State—urbanization.” According to U.S. Census data, 36 percent of the United States’ population lived in rural areas in 1950. Now it’s lower than 20 percent.

If this trend continues, the only chance to grow hunting would be to convince city folk to get involved.

Read more at Petersen’s Hunting

This is a fantastic, and simple, recipe – I make a Gorgonzola and cream cheese cracker spread, with garlic, green onions, cracked peppercorn, and a touch of sour cream to loosen it up….

a 12 gauge girl

BrandonDeer“They run like deer, jump like deer, and think like deer.” -Charles Barkley

I would love more than anything to have a prologue to this blog post. The prologue would be this great adventure of how I went out and hiked several miles, bow slung over my back, and I crossed creeks and hid in brush. After a long, exhausting day I would fall asleep in my chair at the campfire and have to be nudged to go crawl in my sleeping bag so I would be ready at 5:00am to cross more creeks and hide in more brush. I would love to say how I did that for three days before tracking down my buck, and then explain all the anticipation and nerves and adrenaline rushing through my body as I got my first buck. I would love to tell that story before posting this recipe.

I would also…

View original post 1,474 more words

I found a post by WideOpenSpaces today that had a nice, simple deer butchering chart:

Click to go to Wide Open Spaces

Click to go to Wide Open Spaces

The Hank Shaw – “Duck, Duck, Goose” book dinner is this weekend at Holeman & Finch public house in Atlanta:

Click the poster to buy tickets - only 44 total seats.

Click the poster to buy tickets – only 44 total seats.

Hank Shaw, from, shared his recipe for Venison Barbacoa on FaceBook today.



OK folks, here it is: The best recipe for a deer’s front shoulder I’ve yet to find. Mexican barbacoa, a mildly spicy, long-braised variant on barbecue works perfectly with the tough, sinewy front legs on a deer, or really any animal. Historically I’ve mostly used front legs for stew and for grinding, but this is even better. The meat cooks very slowly, and all that connective tissue dissolves into the broth and makes everything richer and just a little slick. Keeps your lips shiny.

Barbacoa, if you’ve never had it, is more warming than picante. Yes, there are chipotles in adobo in it, which can be bought in every Latin market I’ve ever been in, but not so many that your head blows off. The cloves are a stronger element, as are the cumin and bay. If you want to test this recipe before making it, go to your nearest Chipotle restaurant and try their barbacoa: this recipe is virtually identical.

Serve it in tacos, burritos or over rice. And be sure to have at least a few of the traditional accompaniments, like cilantro, crumbled queso seco cheese, chopped onions, sour cream, fresh or pickled chiles, avocados — basically anything that works well on a taco.

Still not convinced? Well, barbacoa may well be in the Top 5 Easiest Recipes on this website. It’s literally a crockpot-it-and-go dish. Minimal chopping, and the only thing you need to do as a cook is to shred the meat. Stupid crazy easy. Try it and you will not be sad.

Venison Barbacoa

This is maybe the best recipe ever for the front shoulders of deer, which can be sinewy and tough to deal with. Cooking with this method really lets nature take its course, and all that connective tissue will dissolve and the meat will be super tender.

But it will still be really lean, so I add about 1/4 cup of lard, bear fat or duck fat to the shredded venison before I serve. You would use olive or vegetable oil. Of course, if you use fatty meats like beef or lamb or pork, you won’t need to do this.

Be sure to have lots of accompaniments for your barbacoa: It’s a base for a meal, the do-it-yourself construction of your tacos is more than half the fun!

You can buy chipotles in adobo in many supermarkets, and definitely in Latin markets or online. One more thing: This stuff reheats beautifully, so make a big batch.

For the rest of the recipe, visit

I mentioned earlier in the week that I would be reviewing Hank Shaw’s new cookbook, “Duck, Duck, Goose.”   The full title is “Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, both Wild and Domesticated,” and Mr. Shaw named the book perfectly.

Click to go to's  listing for the book

Click to go to’s listing for the book

I’ve never hunted waterfowl of any kind, all of my wingshooting adventures have been ringneck pheasant and ruffled grouse (though, to be honest, the ruffled grouse hunting was actually revenge for all the micro-heart attacks those loud ambush artists have given me, and with my usual luck, I didn’t see ANY ruffled grouse while hunting them, only to have one scare me half to death four days later IN THE EXACT SAME WOOD while deer hunting…).   After reading “Duck, Duck, Goose,” I now want to hunt waterfowl, badly.

Before I dig into what made the book so interesting, and motivating, here are a few facts to get out of the way: I am not, nor have I ever been, a professional writer, critic, or hunter.  I shoot archery for a shop, cook what I feel like cooking (I have salmon marinating for the grill at the moment), read a lot and write when I feel like it.  I think the 795 posts on this website, over half of which are original writing, and one self-published-on-Kindle book of my own (seriously, that isn’t an accomplishment, you could bang your forehead on the keyboard for half an hour in Microsoft Word and upload it after making a free account, and Amazon will put it out there for you) shows that I do what I like.

Professionally, I am an IT analyst – which means I pretend to listen to the engineers when they whine about not having enough memory on a server that shows months of 4% memory usage in the logs. (It means the engineers don’t understand the difference between bad code and hardware performance, that’s what it means.)

So, take my review for what it is: somebody who likes to cook, hunt, and write passing their humble opinion on for folks who might be interested. 

Back to the book:

“Duck, Duck, Goose” really nailed down several points before I even got to the first recipe – Hank Shaw can WRITE, his knowledge of how to find and prepare wild ingredients is exhaustive, and he doesn’t assume you are a trained chef when he puts his thoughts in writing.

From the very beginning of the book, Mr. Shaw’s enthusiasm for what, in my moderate experience east of the Mississippi, is something of a lost cuisine is an amazing thing to read.  Take the very first paragraph of the book as an example:

Cooking a duck or goose in today’s world is an act of expression. It is a way to find that forgotten feast we Americans once enjoyed, to free ourselves from the Tyranny of the Chicken and shake our fists at the notion that fat is our enemy. Mastering these birds will make you a more competent carnivore.  It will help you regain the skills needed to tackle more challenging morsels, such as giblets and wings and rendered fat.  Cooking a duck or goose – a whole bird, from bill to feet – is real cooking. True, honest cooking.

I’ve eaten in upstate New York (all of the Southern Tier really) all over Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Jamaica, the United Arab Emirates, and Afghanistan, and while I will admit, VERY few of the restaurants would show up in a foodie’s guidebook, the only, ONLY time’s I’ve EVER seen duck on the menu was in Chinese restaurants and at Number 5’s in Binghamton, New York.  The Peking Duck at the Chinese restaurant tasted like it had been dipped in kerosene and left on blacktop for a week, while the wild boar bacon wrapped duck tenderloin appetizer at Number 5’s was phenomenal.  So, two experiences, in just shy of 44 years, is not really a wide base from which to compare waterfowl cookery, but I’m damn well going to do it anyway.

Mr. Shaw approaches the topic of how to cook the birds from the very start of the process – what to do after you’ve shot a bird out in the marshes or fields.  He addresses hanging the birds versus not hanging the birds, which approach to use in different situations, how each SPECIES of duck or goose might be cared for, and how to use each species, and each part of the bird, for best effect.  In fact, because like all hunting, you may NOT get the bird you want, Mr. Shaw even addresses how to use store-bought birds in the same recipes.

That’s one of the wonderful, wonderful things about this book – if you spend the day duck hunting, and end up with four different species, this book will enable you to cook all of them without having to think to yourself “Two pintails, a mallard and a teal, what now?”

Some of the birds discussed in the book are:

  • Mallard
  • Teal
  • Bluebill (Scaup)
  • Gadwall
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler (Spoonie)
  • Wigeon
  • Redhead
  • Canvasback (King Can)
  • Wood Duck (Woodies)
  • Ringneck
  • Surf Scoter
  • Ruddy

Domestic bird breeds and geese are also covered, and I mean COVERED – in the kitchen, this book will tell you which birds to break down, which ones to keep whole, how to break them down, how to store them, how to render the fat, how to sear, how to make your own duck sausage or salami, everything from confit to jerky.

Mr. Shaw even covers what the various species of birds prefer to eat, and how that affects the flavor considering what part of the migration or mating season they are in, which, for somebody like myself who may now be poking a shotgun barrel into the sky this year, is very important.  I now know that if I am cleaning the bird, and I see orange colored fat, to discard the fat and how to use the bird to avoid the fishy flavor of a crustacean eating duck.

Instructions on how to pluck your waterfowl, or if you should skin them, are also included.

This book provides hunters and foodies a glimpse into WHY ducks are so treasured in haute cuisine, including some tidbits of history, such as how Canvasback ducks were priced for the table a hundred years ago (the cost of several days wages for an average person.)

I gathered from this book that duck and goose is making a culinary comeback.  If so, I’m looking forward to it, though my treadmill might groan at the extra miles I’ll have to put on it to compensate.


If you like to hunt and read, this book is a fantastic window into the world of waterfowl.  If you like to cook and you don’t hunt, this might get you curious to try hunting, or to branch out into cooking domestic ducks and geese.   This is a wonderful, wonderful bridge between what a lot of the public sees as ‘light beer drinking redneckery’ and ‘pass the canapes,’ which the general public incorrectly sees as a form of snobbery.  (In fact, take the case of Duck Dynasty and put them in Downton Abbey… because that’s how the general public probably sees hunters in comparison to gourmet food.)   Neither stereotype is true – I work with people who are very well educated, have good golf averages, enjoy the arts, and hunt, and anyone who thinks “Downton Abbey” when they think of haute cuisine needs to read Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” to dispel that thought.

Hank Shaw has effortlessly* bridged that perception gap with a book that could make the most agoraphobic city-dwelling foodie think “Maybe, if I shoot at the sky to get a duck, I won’t notice the lack of buildings wrapped around me…” and at the same time, might make somebody who’s pickup truck doesn’t fit under the average overpass think “Y’know, maybe going into the city for a bite to eat would be worth it!” (Though, honestly, most of the folks I know who hunt would just damn well read the recipes and cook the birds themselves…)

The Tour

You can follow Mr. Shaw’s food writing at his web site:, along with the Duck tour he is currently on to promote the book across North America:


The event here in Atlanta will be at Holeman & Finch Public House, January 19th 2014.  A FaceBook event is listed as “Ducks in Hotlanta,”  I sent an email to Holeman & Finch earlier this week attempting to get more information, such as ticket prices, times, and number of guests possible, however I haven’t heard back from the venue yet.  (And if I can’t get tickets, somebody is going to get mugged in the parking lot, there’s a REASON people think I’m Bigfoot when they see me in the woods.)

Thats it folks – I hope this motivates you to check the book out and, maybe, cook a bit, McDonalds and the like won’t miss us, trust me. 

*I’m certain, having written a bit on my own, that Mr. Shaw would disagree with ‘effortlessly,’ but it fit the sentence nicely…

I just picked up “Duck, Duck, Goose” by Hank Shaw – the man behind Hunter Angler Gardner Cook and one of my go-to sources online for ‘how the HECK do I cook (insert wild game)’ moments.

Now, I haven’t read it through yet, just the introduction and a section on hanging upland birds and waterfowl, but I’m excited, happy with what I’m reading, and can’t wait to finish it and write an actual review.

This is just the heads-up that I will be writing one.

(Yep, I’m excited…)

Click to go to's  listing for the book

Click to go to’s listing for the book