Monday, December 23, 2013

Ecuadorean Roasted Wild Pork Leg (Hornado de Chancho)

Post by Jen

Hornado de Chancho is a common dish in Ecuador, typically served during special occasions like the holidays. It is marinated for 3 days or so in garlic, beer and other spices, and then baked for hours with even more beer and spices. This is an adaptation of that dish, made with a whole wild pork leg rather than domestic. 

Because it is usually not practical to remove hair from a wild hog in the field (unless if you've got a giant bathtub of scalding water on hand), wild hogs are typically skinned like most other game animals. Not only that, their hair is also courser, thicker and fuller than domestic pigs, making it more difficult and time consuming to remove, especially if you're not an experienced butcher or pig farmer. This is unfortunate because you lose a lot of that delicious fat that would have helped to keep the meat moist, like the fat on domestic pigs. For this reason, we had to take extra care in making sure that our leg did not dry out in the oven. 

And because we like to wrap everything in tortillas at the Nguyen-Wheatley household, we used the meat to make tacos. We apologize to any Ecuadoreans who think this is blasphemy. Americans have an obsession with wraps and sandwiches.

We thank Ronnie, one of Rick's former customers at Turner's Outdoorsman in CA, for providing the meat for this recipe.  Ronnie went hog hunting in Texas, and as promised, he came through and brought us back a whole leg! We are very excited because this is our first wild pig recipe on this blog, and we hope to provide you with more in the future.

Servings: 20 (2 tacos each)
Prep Time: 3 days (resting and marinating)
Cook Time: 6 hours
- 10-pound whole wild pork leg (skinless)
- juice of 2 limes
- 20 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper
-  1 1/4 cup of pork lard (manteca)
- 8 cups of beer for marinating, plus 6 cups of beer for baking
- 2 tablespoons of achiote powder (ground annatto seeds)
- 8 yukon gold potatoes, cut in half or thirds

We got our leg with the hoof or trotter still intact. If you find yourself in the same predicament, cut around the circumference where the leg bends above the hoof. Cut through the tendons and meat with a sharp knife until you hit bone. Then twist the joint, which should disconnect. If needed, work your knife between the joint to disconnect any tendons and cartilage.
1. Clean leg as much as possible, making sure to remove any hair and blood clots. With a sharp knife, remove as much silver skin as you can from the leg. It doesn't have to be perfect. If your leg has its skin still intact, then don't worry about the silver skin. 
2. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice all over the leg. Then make incisions all over and stuff with garlic mixture. Rub the rest of the mixture on the leg.

Let the leg rest in the refrigerator, covered, for 24 hours. 

3. After 24 hours, pour 8 cups of beer over the pork leg. Use cheap beer. No use in wasting good beer for cooking. 

Cover and put the leg back in the refrigerator and let it marinate for 48 hours. Flip the leg over 3 to 5 times over the course of these two days. We flipped it when we left for work in the morning, and then flipped it again when we got back home, then before bed.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Discard beer marinade and place leg in a roasting pan. Rub 1 tablespoon of achiote powder over the leg and place dabs of lard over the top of the leg, about 1/4 cup.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
5. Meanwhile, melt 1 cup of lard in a saucepan and mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon of achiote. Add 6 cups of beer and bring to a simmer. 
Then lower the oven to 350 degrees F. Take the pork leg out and bathe it with the beer and lard mixture. Then cover the pan with foil and return to the oven. To keep the leg from drying out, you need to baste the leg every 30 minutes. The foil helps to keep the leg moist. You're essentially braising the meat since there is no skin to keep the meat from drying. 
6. After 3 hours, flip the leg over. Then lower heat to 325 degrees F and cook for 2 more hours, continuing to baste the leg with the pan juices every 30 minutes. Continue to cook covered with foil or lid. 

7. Then add the potatoes and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over them. Cover the pan again and cook for an additional hour, or until potatoes are tender. Total cooking time should be 6 hours for a 10 pound leg.
8. Shred or cut meat into slices. Serve with your favorite salsa, avocado slices, hominy, tortillas or rice. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Smoky BBQ Beans with Venison

 Post by Rick

Here is a recipe that can be served as either a side dish or a main dish, especially for you bachelor kind of guys. It contains all of a man's important food groups: beans, onions for a vegetable, and of course, venison*!-- this is definitely a stick to your ribs kind of meal. Share it with others or cook up a big batch to last you an entire week. 

Food for Hunters thanks Wright's Liquid Smoke for sending us samples of their product and invite you to enter their Deer Days Sweepstakes-- a chance to win a $500 Bass Pro Gift Card and a Wright's Liquid Smoke Gift Pack! Enter on Wright's Facebook page once per day and unlock three mouthwatering venison recipes from Wright's upon entry. Hurry, because the sweepstake closes December 20!

*This is a great dish to utilize any scraps when processing your deer. We try not to waste any meat that does not make the steak or roast pile by trimming away as much as we can. Jen uses a Havalon knife for this chore, and she wields it like a magic wand!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8-10
- 1 lb of venison
- 1 can of baked beans (55 ounce)
- 2/3 + 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 slices of thick cut bacon
- 1 tablespoon of dried mustard
- 1 tablespoon of Wright's Liquid Smoke*
-  1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of apple juice
- 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of ketchup
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 1 tablespoon of chili powder
- kosher salt, to taste

1. Clean and cube venison.  Lightly salt the meat. Add the olive oil to a heated frying pan. When the oil has been brought to medium-high temperature, add meat and brown ( but do not over cook!) It should look a little toasty around the edges.
2. Add the browned venison into a slow cooker and pour the apple juice and 2/3 cup of bar-b-cue sauce over the meat. Mix well and cook at low for 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet, cook bacon slices about half way. Don't let it get crunchy.  You don't want to render all the fat out of it. Then discard all of the bacon grease but 1 tablespoon. Return the frying pan to the stove and when grease is hot, brown onion until tender, about 3-5 minutes. While the onion is browning, chop bacon into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces.
4. Drain liquid from the can of beans BUT save the liquid in a bowl and set aside for possible later use. 

In a large bowl combine the beans, cooked venison, 3/4 cup barbecue sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, molasses, chili powder, dry mustard and liquid smoke. Mix well and add the bacon and cooked onions.
5. Place combined ingredients in a oven proof casserole or dutch oven.  
Cook uncovered for 1 hour.  If after 1 hour the consistency is too thick, you may add more bean liquid to bring the beans to a desirable consistency.  After removing the beans from the oven, let stand for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Turkey Legs Noodle Soup

Post by Jen

After breasting out my turkey, I also took out the legs. Looking at it, it didn't look too bad, not as bad as people often say. In my hands, they felt workable. There was enough meat to make a small pot of turkey noodle soup, and that excited me to get an additional meal out of my turkey where most people would throw those parts away.

I've been told again and again that turkey legs are tough and not good eating, that you have to boil them for 2 weeks (ha-ha) to make them even remotely edible. After making this dish, I have to say that I don't agree. I sometimes wonder if hunters say these kinds of things out of a misguided, yet innocent, tradition-- because their fathers, grandfathers or buddies taught them to say it, because it's one of those things everyone says to feel a part of the "club," without really trying it and judging for themselves. 

You know what I think? (Not that I'm telling you already.) I think some cave man long ago messed up on cooking his turkey legs. Too proud to admit that he's a poor cook, he lied about it, and now we're all paying for it many years later.

If my hypothesis is incorrect, then I have no idea where y'all get the idea that wild turkey legs are so bad, because my turkey leg noodle soup was DEEEE-LICIOUS. What's more, I did nothing special to it. I treated it like chicken legs. I boiled it, then shredded it and put it back in the pot to simmer with the veggies. Worked out great. My only regret was not taking home those legs that my other hunting companions threw away.

Remember that every part of an animal has its place. You wouldn't cook stew meat the same way that you would a filet mignon, would you? And expect the same results? That's nonsense.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Servings: 4-6
- 2 wild turkey legs (drumsticks and thighs), skinned is fine
- 7 cups of water
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
-  2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/4 of a medium onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon of Hungarian paprika
- 1 generous pinch of dried thyme
-  2 teaspoons of fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 cups of egg noodles, uncooked 
- 3 to 5 fronds of fennel (optional)

1. Place turkey legs in a large pot with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

2. Take out the legs, then shred the meat with forks, reserving the bones. Set the meat aside. 

Then return the bones to the broth and simmer for an additional 45 minutes, covered. Afterwards, remove the bones and discard, making sure to get any small bones that may have broken off.
3. Next, add the chopped carrots, onion, celery and shredded turkey meat into the broth, followed by white pepper, coriander, salt, paprika, parsley and pinch of thyme, grinding the thyme between your fingers. Simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Next, increase heat and add egg noodles. Cook until tender, following package directions. Stir occasionally. 

During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the fennel fronds and simmer. Then remove and discard the fronds. This is optional, but the fennel make the soup's flavor sweeter, more aromatic and complex.
5. Make sure noodles and veggies are tender. Add more salt, if necessary. Finally, ladle into individual bowls and serve with crusty bread or crackers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wild Turkey Wonton Soup

Post by Jen
We've received many requests for wild turkey recipes, but up until now, we haven't been able to deliver.  I shot the turkey for this recipe-- my first-- this fall season in western Nebraska. Although it was just a hen, I was still able to bring home meat and memories of a wonderful time. I have to thank the guys at U.S. Warriors Outdoors for making this recipe possible! You should check them out. They're an organization that connects wounded vets to the outdoors by providing hunts, fishing opportunities and other activities. Maybe they can help you or someone you know.

Since the hen that I shot wasn't big enough to make it worth plucking, I simply breasted it out and also removed the legs. If you're wondering if there's much difference between a wild turkey and domestic turkey, then I say-- not really. 

Besides the difference in size and possibly fattiness, I bet that you can cook a wild turkey pretty much the same way that you would cook a bird from the store. So when people asked us for wild turkey recipes in the past, I first pointed them to Hank Shaw's website and then tell them that they don't really have to do anything special to a wild turkey. Its taste and texture is exactly the same as a domestic bird. That's my opinion anyway. For this recipe, I used the breast meat. The legs, I will cook up later this week. I don't have anything interesting to say about this recipe, other than a nifty trick I learned if you don't have a meat grinder-- covered in the steps below. This wonton soup recipe is pretty straightforward. You should be able to find the ingredients at your local Asian market. We hope that you will give this a try!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- 3 dried black mushrooms
- boneless breasts from one wild turkey, ground
- 8 raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
- 3 green onions,minced
-  1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, plus extra for garnish
- 2 teaspoons of corn starch
- 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper, plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 package of wonton wrappers, at least 12 ounces
- 2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth
- 6 baby bok choy, halved lenghtwise

 1. Soak mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. We bought wood ear, but there are different kinds of "black mushrooms." Buy whatever is available. Sometimes it will say "fungus" on the bag instead of "mushrooms"-- same thing. Use more mushrooms as desired. Our wood ears were pretty large.
Once reconstituted, remove any hard stems or roots. 

Then thinly slice and set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine filling ingredients: ground turkey*, chopped shrimp, 2 minced green onions, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, corn starch, kosher salt and white pepper. 

*If you don't own a grinder, see below for a nifty trick. 

3. To fill wontons, place 1 generous teaspoon of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper.

Keep remaining wonton wrappers covered to prevent them from drying out. 
Brush water on the edges of the wrapper, then fold it in half over the filling to form a triangle. Press edges together to seal.

Then dab some water onto a bottom corner of the triangle. 

Then fold the other bottom corner over the wet one to form a pretty little package.
Like so! 

If you're still confused, watch the video below of Martin Yan making wontons. I used to watch him all the time when I was a kid.

Do this with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling. You may have extra of one or the other. That's ok. Fry up the extra filling to make meatballs or freeze the remaining wrappers; they will keep.

4. Next, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and bok choy and cook for 2 minutes. Then bring heat down to a simmer. Add wontons and cook for 3 minutes. 

You want the broth to be hot enough to cook the wontons, but not at a rolling boil. This can make your wontons fall apart. 
For those who don't know, baby bok choy looks like this. It's a bit like cabbage. Sometimes, they come in large bags. If you have extras, baby bok choy is tasty sauteed in a bit of oil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and crushed red pepper.
Ladle wontons and broth into soup bowls. Garnish with a pinch of white pepper, a dash of sesame oil and some chopped green onions. Serve immediately.

Wontons are best cooked right before serving, or else they get mushy if they sit in the broth for too long. Filled wontons will keep in the fridge for up to 8 hours, covered. Or, you can freeze them on a plate or baking sheet then transfer into zip lock bag for storage. Cook them frozen in hot broth for 5 minutes instead of 3. 

They are also great fried. Serve with sweet chili sauce on the side for dipping.  Do not thaw. 

How to Grind Meat in a Food Processor 

For those who don't have a meat grinder, here is a nifty trick with a food processor. It worked great for us!

1. Cut pieces of turkey (or any kind of meat) into small cubes. Lay in a single layer, not touching (at least minimally), on a plate or baking sheet. Freeze partially so that they're firm but not frozen, about 20 minutes. This will help the food processor cut the meat.

2. Fill food processor halfway with frozen meat, then pulse until ground, like in the photo. Repeat with the remaining cubes. 

Hope this helps!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Duck, Duck, Goose by Hank Shaw

Review by Jen.

Photography (c) 2013 by Holly A. Heyser
Duck, Duck, Goose. Hank Shaw.
New York: Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2013. 240 pp. 

Buy it here:

When it comes to cooking wild game, few works are as impressive as Hank Shaw's. Even if you've never heard of him before (and how could you not?), a passing glance at Shaw's latest book Duck, Duck, Goose will tell you exactly that. Featuring Holly A. Heyser's mouthwatering photography on the cover and throughout, Duck, Duck, Goose promises hunters and cooks "the ultimate guide to cooking waterfowl, both farmed and wild." 

* * *

I've seen my fair share of wild game cookbooks since we've started blogging. Rick has a ton of them, collecting dust on the shelves or sitting in cardboard boxes inside our garage. They're there because we don't use them, kept as novelties and little more. The reasons were usually the same: overused recipes that are still being printed over and over again; unappetizing photography that looks like it was done in the 70s, or lack of it; incomplete or overwhelming explanations of the basics; poor writing; or just plain ol' dull. 

But where others have failed, Duck, Duck, Goose shines. Shaw's clear and upbeat writing, Heyser's top-notch photography, the book's sharp layout and design, and not to mention all the mouthwatering recipes that we actually want to try-- these are all the things that set Duck, Duck, Goose apart from other wild game cookbooks. They are the reasons why this book will stay in our kitchen, and not lost somewhere in a box. In Rick's words, "It's the most complete cookbook I've ever seen."

Photography (c) 2013 by Holly A. Heyser
Duck, Duck, Goose is broken up into 5 sections: "Basics," "Whole Birds," "Pieces," Extras," and "Stock, Glace, and Consomme." 

The "Basics" will cover what most people will want to know about cooking waterfowl-- the differences between domestic and wild, information on the different breeds, how to break down with clear illustrations, field care, hanging, plucking and wine and beer pairings.

But the recipes sections are where you'll have most fun.  I always believed that a good cookbook should not only offer fantastic recipes-- a given, but it should also teach. Before every recipe is an introduction written by Shaw to reveal tips and tricks to make that specific dish, in addition to valuable explanations as to why certain recipes are prepared certain ways. The book is also sprinkled with helpful sidebars and notes throughout to further wet your curiosity on cooking waterfowl. 

Through great variety, Shaw shows the versatility of waterfowl. Featuring both domestic and international dishes such as Roast Wild Duck with Fried Hominy, Duck Bulgogi, Coot or Duck Risotto, Duck Chili, Thai Duck Curry, English Duck Pie, German Style Goose Meatballs, Buffalo Duck Wings, Duck Egg Pasta and an assortment of charcuterie how-to's, there is something for everyone in Shaw's new cookbook. Roasted, grilled, smoked or barbecued-- you name it, Shaw's covered it. 

(c) 2013 by Holly A. Heyser
And although written from a hunter's perspective, Shaw's recipes and kitchen virtues are easily transferable between domestic and wild birds, between hunter and non-hunter.

Clean, sophisticated, yet easy to follow and understand, Duck, Duck, Goose will quickly become any waterfowl enthusiast's go-to in the kitchen. Shaw's cookbook receives 5 stars from us! As for me, I always get hungry whenever I look at it. 

Duck, Duck, Goose by Hank Shaw would make a fantastic gift for all the waterfowl hunters in your life this holiday season. Buy it here:

 Check out Hank's blog Hunter Angler Gardner Cook at

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rick Has Arrived in Nebraska!

Post by Jen

Photo courtesy of Mark Davis, Omaha World-Herald.*
I am happy to announce that Rick has finally arrived in Nebraska, for good! He's been away for too long, 10 months to be more exact. We've been cooking separately, spending time in the outdoors separately, and eating too many meals alone. All that has come to an end. 

While we get him settled in, we thank all of you for being so patient. There is still very much unpacking to do, which leaves little time for dreaming about wild game recipes let alone cooking them. Please hang in there with us! There will be more great things to come as we both discover the bounties that our new home in northeast Nebraska has to offer us. 

*Photo taken during Pheasants Forever Rooster Road Trip stop in Nebraska on 10/30/2013.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Roasted Partridge Rubbed with Curry

Recipe by Jen

According to Rick, who just happens to know these things at the top of his head and makes up for the fact that I'm too lazy to do any research tonight, chukars (or partridges) are not native to America. After the successful introduction of pheasants, chukars were then brought over to the United States. These birds did well out west in states like California and Oregon, but they never took root in Nebraska. For that reason, naturally occurring chucker populations are not found in the wild here. They are only found at hunting clubs that stock them for visiting club members. With that being said, that is exactly where this chukar came from. (Shout out to Pheasant Bonanza in Tekamah! Pssstt! ... Ask for Aaron Schroder to be your guide.)

It's not often that I get a bird from the field that's plucked and kept whole, but when I do, I treat it extra special. So for something different, I thought that pairing it with curry would fit the bill. This isn't specifically Indian or Thai. I just used whatever I had on hand in my pantry, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out. If you're wondering what chukar tastes like, it's a lot like pheasant or even chicken. Its light and mild.

Being small and lean, chukar can dry out easily, but the trick is to brine it beforehand-- a technique that I highly recommend when cooking game birds. It adds extra flavor to the meat and does a great job at keeping it moist. The brining may take 4-6 hours, but it's little work. Cooking the dish will only take you 35 minutes. If you have a chance to hunt for chukar, I hope you give this a try!

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 4-6 hours
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
- 4 whole chukars, cleaned and plucked
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 tbs. of butter, melted
- 8 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 8 juniper berries, slightly crushed
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 5 sage leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons of mild, yellow curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian Paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger
- dash of dried basil
- 1 teaspoon of dried coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
Curry Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- zest of one lemon, plus 1 tsp. of juice
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon of yellow, mild curry powder
- dash of turmeric
- 1 1/4 cups of unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of sugar, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

1. To make the brine, combine all brine ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat it just enough that the sugar and salt dissolves. Take off heat and cool completely before adding birds.
Then submerge chukars in the brine. Cover and  refrigerate for 4-6 hours. If the brine doesn't cover birds completely, just add more water or move them around now and then. You can also place a heavy dish or bowl on top to keep the birds submerged.

2. Before cooking, take the birds out of the brine, rinse them under cold water and remove any remaining feathers or shot. Dab dry with paper towels. Then allow birds to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine rub ingredients and evenly distribute it between the four birds. Insert a quarter of a lemon into each bird then place in a baking dish breast side up.  Since it's only me, I only cooked for one with a quail that was beginning to freezer burn. 
I found a couple pieces of shot while cleaning the birds. Then another one while I was eating it. If feeding to guests unfamiliar with game, be sure to warn them about the possibility of finding shot in their meal. It's not fun when you unknowingly bite down on one with bare teeth.

3. Bake chukars in a 425 degrees F oven for 30-35 minutes, or internal temp reads 155 degrees F. Baste with melted butter halfway through. 

4. To make the sauce, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes and zest. Stir fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. 
Then add coconut milk, soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sugar, 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt and 1 tsp. of lemon juice. It might be easier if you mixed these ingredients ahead of time in a small bowl. Bring to a boil and then cook until slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Add chopped cilantro and adjust seasonings.  Take off heat. 

5. Once chukars are cooked, allow them to rest covered in foil for about 5 minutes. Then serve with curry sauce spooned on top or on the side as a dipping sauce. It tasted great with black rice. Enjoy!
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