Thursday, December 1, 2016

Smoked Trout and Horseradish Spread

Here's a fish spread I made awhile back with some smoked trout that was given to me. What happened was Rick's cousin, Tyler, caught and smoked more trout than he could eat. The trout were sitting in his fridge, and he said that no one else in his family was going to eat them. So I accepted the smoked trout without hesitation, remembering that I had happily eaten a rather large smoked trout by myself that Tyler left for me (and Rick) in a cooler at deer camp some years before. But I can see why many people don't like to eat trout, especially if they're not used to eating whole fish with bones. Trout does require a bit of concentration to consume. Heck, sometimes it makes me squeamish. All. Those. Darn. Bones. 

But if you catch all this trout, what are you to do? The rest of your family doesn't want to touch it. There's only so much trout a person could eat, and you know that if you're going to put in the effort to smoke fish, you can't smoke just one. Well, you could, but I envy you for having so much free time to waste.

Over the years, I have come to one conclusion about the general eating habits of people: if you make a spread/dip with it, people will usually gobble it up. So that's what I did. I picked all the meat from the bones and skin, trying my best to remove as many pin bones as possible, and the spread turned out to be absolutely delicious. It's a great way to clear out a lot of fish-- serve it with crackers, chips, toasted slices of French bread or made into a sandwich... People will love it. It's similar to salmon spread, but much cheaper.

- 2 14-inch smoked trout, or equivalent 
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, softened 
- 3 green onions, chopped 
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground horseradish, or to taste 
- Salt and pepper, to taste 

1. Use your favorite recipe for smoked trout, or buy a brine kit from the store. Once smoked trout is cooled, peel off the skin and pick off as much meat from the bones as possible, paying special attention to pin bones. 
Place meat in a medium size bowl, then add cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, onion, parsley, horseradish and pepper. Mix well and taste before adding any salt. Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for the mixture to firm up before serving. 
2. Serve in a sandwich or spread over crackers, chips or toast. To make the sandwich in the photos, you will need ciabatta bread, mozzarella cheese slices, artichoke and tomato antipasto spread(from HyVee), lettuce and tomato slices. Spread antipasto on the bottom bun and cover with cheese slices. Toast top and bottom buns until warmed and cheese has melted. Then fill sandwich with a good helping of the trout, tomato slices and lettuce. Serve sandwiches or spread with cornichons/gherkins.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wild Turkey Breast Stuffed with Ham & Herbs

Happy holidays! Here's a recipe we developed for Jones Dairy Farm: a wild turkey breast stuffed with ham and herbs. It was moist and delicious, especially served with mashed potatoes and gravy on the side.

But just because Thanksgiving is over doesn't mean you can't make this for Christmas. Or save this recipe for spring turkey season, which will be here before you know it. 

To view the recipe, visit:

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 Also, looking for Christmas presents? Give the gift of wild game cooking to all the hunters or future hunters in your life! Purchase our book Hunting for Food: Guide to Harvesting, Field Dressing and Cooking Wild Game book here:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Salad

My brother, Ngoc, came out to visit us last weekend. He still lives out in California and having had little opportunity to enjoy wild game, we promised him that we would feast! But I also didn't want to spend hours cooking in the kitchen while there were other things to do and see near Omaha. 

So on the night that he arrived, along with serving a lovely charcuterie and cheese board with French bread and rosé wine, we also prepared an easy pan seared venison loin cooked to medium rare. It's a simple dish that will allow your dinner guest(s) to truly taste the venison, which is complemented by local wild mushrooms and a lightly dressed salad that does not overpower. My brother also has never had morels before, so this dish was a taste of wild Nebraska. If you have access to local wild greens, that would be ever better. Because it's November, we had to use dried morel mushrooms given to us by a friend. We've been saving it for a special occasion just like this! 

Sorry about the vague measurements. For recipes like these, we use what we have on hand and stretch the ingredients as necessary. Nothing has to be exact-- cook to your liking.

Servings: 4 
Prep Time: 1 hour 
Cooking Time: 30 minutes 
- Venison loin, about 2 pounds 
- Kosher salt 
- Fresh course ground pepper, to taste 
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil 
- 1 package of mixed greens with arugula 
- Thinly sliced red onion 
- 1 tomato, diced 
- French vinaigrette (we used Brianna's brand) 
- Goat cheese, optional 
- Morel mushrooms, fresh or dried 
- Splash of cognac, whiskey or brandy 
- Shallots, thinly sliced 
- Chives, chopped 
- Butter 


1. Remove all silver skin from venison loin. Allow meat to rest at room temperature for 1 hour prior to cooking. This will help the meat cook more evenly, especially if you're aiming for medium rare. If using dried mushrooms, pour boiled water over mushrooms. Mushrooms should reconstitute in about 20 minutes. Drain and pat mushrooms dry before cooking. 

2. Pat venison dry with paper towels. (Wet meat does not brown as well. We want nice crust!) Cut loin into smaller sections as necessary to fit into your pan. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper all over loins-- I'm pretty liberal with the salt. Over medium high heat, heat olive oil in a pan large enough to accommodate meat. When oil is nice and hot, sear venison loin for about 2 minutes on all four sides, plus the two ends. Your oil must be properly heated to achieve optimal brown crust. You'll have to use your tongs to keep the loin upright while searing. Once browned, loosely wrap loin in foil to rest for 5 minutes. 

3. In the same pan, add butter. Add sliced shallot and cook until soft, about 2-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and are slightly browned. 5-7 minutes. Add a splash of cognac, whiskey or brandy and cook until alcohol is mostly evaporated. Take off heat, season with salt and pepper and chopped chives. Add a little bit more butter. 

4. Toss greens, tomato, red onion and French vinaigrette. Taste and add salt, pepper and sugar to your salad as necessary. Crumble goat cheese with a fork (your hands will melt the cheese and make it too gooey) and sprinkle on top of salad. Slice venison loin into medallions and serve with the salad and mushrooms. Steak sauce optional.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Venison Chili with Queso Fresco Cheese

This venison chili is an update of our Chuck Wagon Chili recipe. We loved the original recipe because in addition to ground venison, we added cubes of venison roast, which made the chili more hearty with a stew-like quality. With buttery red and pinto beans, and also refried beans to give the soup base more body, our chili has just the right amount of heat balanced by a touch of sweetness and depth from the molasses and brown sugar. To make the chili more interesting, we topped our bowls with crumbled Mexican queso fresco cheese and chopped cilantro. We know you'll enjoy this recipe!

Servings: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 hours
- 1 1/2 pounds of ground venison 
- 1 1/2 pounds of venison roast/stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of dried crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- Kosher/sea salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 5 tablespoons of chili powder
- 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of Hungarian/sweet paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (15-ounce) can of red beans
- 1 (15-ounce) can of refried beans 
- 1 (15-ounce) can of charro pinto beans
- 1 cup of chicken/beef broth
- 1 (14.5-ounces) can diced tomato
- 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons of molasses  
- Crumbled queso fresco cheese, for garnish
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt all over venison stew meat and brown; brown in batches. Remove meat and set aside on a plate. Add more oil to the pot if necessary and brown ground venison-- add pinch of salt and break up meat. Add chopped onion and sauté until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the browned venison stew meat back into the pot. 

2. Add all other ingredients to the pot, except the queso fresco cheese and cilantro-- do not drain beans. Bring to a slight boil, then simmer on low for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until venison stew meat is tender, stirring occasionally. (Simmer covered or uncovered depending on how thick or thin you want your chili. I cooked it uncovered at first and then covered it when the chili thickened.)

3. Add salt to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving/storing. Garnish with queso fresco cheese and chopped cilantro. Serve with cornbread.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Teriyaki Dove Skewers with Fried Rice

You probably don't have anymore doves in the freezer, but in case you do, here's a recipe that utilizes skinned, boneless dove breasts. We were challenged by Jones Dairy Farm to come up with a recipe that pairs dove and ham, and this is what we came up with. We also added bacon, and it turned out pretty darn good! 

The teriyaki sauce is homemade-- with just a few ingredients in your pantry, you could easily and quickly make this sauce without having to buy the bottled stuff at the store. I hesitate to call this recipe "Hawaiian," but it is reminiscent of it-- ham, bacon, fried rice, grilled meat, pineapple ... I apologize if I'm stereotyping.

Here's the link for the recipe:

Fall is in full swing in Nebraska, and it is beautiful. Sweatshirt weather is here, and it's so much more enjoyable to play outside. But it also means that the growing season is coming to an end.

A friend gave us a bunch of green tomatoes this past weekend. She had to pull them from the plants to beat the frost. We made fried green tomatoes, which is delicious, but there's only so much we can eat. Rick and I thought of making green tomato preserves. We'll try it this weekend and report back on how it turns out. I'm thinking of something close to pepper jelly-- a more savory preserve that would taste good with corn bread. 

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