Tuesday, January 29, 2013

French's Crunchy Onion Venison Steaks

We send a million thanks to Ashley Kosack of South Florida. She sent us this recipe not too long ago, and it was delicious! Ashley said, " I'm not the type to give my secrets away, but this one is so good that I want everyone to try it! My husband and I are avid hunters and we usually fill our freezers. So the only thing we eat is wild game. I'm constantly making new recipes. This one is easy and goes great with venison backstrap, which for my husband is like gold." Ashley likes to marinate her venison steaks in Italian or herb dressing, but we opted to dust our steaks with a light coating of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning. The beauty of this dish is that you can season your meat any way you like. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
- 20 oz. of venison backstraps
- 1 package of ranch seasoning dry mix (or favorite dressing) 
- 2 cups of French's Original Fried Onions
- 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut tenderloins into desired sized pieces for each person. Lightly coat each with ranch seasoning dry mix. Don't overdo it. It's very salty. You may not even use the entire package. If using a wet marinade, let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a ziplock bag, combine 2 cups of French's Fried Onion and 2 tbs. of flour. Crush with hands or rolling pin. 
3. Dip meat into egg, then coat with onion crumbs. Press crumbs down so they stick. 

Place venison on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. 10 minutes for medium-rare. 

Enjoy with your favorite sides. Yum!! Thanks, Ashley, for a wonderful recipe! 
Got a recipe you want us to try? Send us an email at foodforhunters@gmail.com Please note that we are limited to the wild game that's available to us. You can also choose to photograph the recipe yourself. If you do, please send a well composed, clear photo and the recipe. No phone photos, please! 

About Ashley Cosack
I was born and raised in South Florida. Grew up in the outdoors with my dad; I was the son he never had. I used to do everything with him, from fishing, to working on trucks and heavy machinery. When I was about 16, we started duck hunting together. Then I met my husband who I married this past November. He introduced me to archery and really started my passion for the outdoors. We live to hunt, and hunt to live. We do everything in the outdoors together. I'm proud to say that I'm a hunter's wife, as I'm sure he's proud to say that he's a huntress's husband! Haha. 

This photo of us was from 2010 when I harvested my first deer, a big South Florida public land 8 point. He was so proud of me, and of course, I was extremely proud of myself. It took a lot of hard work and years of scouting in the same WMA, but well worth it! I was also pregnant with our first daughter here, and the hunt happened right before we found out. Our daughter has definitely proven that she's an outdoor girl for sure. She'll be two in July and loves hunting and fishing with us every chance she gets! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Venison Amchur

Hello all! Rick here for this week's recipe. First, I'd like to say "thank you" for your patience in getting Jen's move completed, and for both of us to get settled into our new (but temporary) lives apart from each other. Still can't get used to not having her next to me... 

This week's recipe has me returning to India for a dish that bursts with flavor. As many of you may know, Indian food is never known for being dull or boring. Sometimes, it can be quite strong. Other times, it may set your mouth on fire. But don't worry. I found a dish that tastes just right. Here, we have a dish I call Venison Amchur. "Amchur" being the dried mango powder that goes into it. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
- 1 lb. of venison roast, cleaned and cubed into 3/4 inch squares
- 3 medium onions
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, plus 1 tsp.
- 1 tsp. of finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp. of chili powder
- 1 pinch of ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1 1/2 tsp. of amchur (mango) powder
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro

- cooked white rice, for serving

1. With a sharp knife, finely chop 2 onions. Over medium heat, heat 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook until golden brown, being sure not to char. 
2. Reduce heat, then add ginger, garlic, chili powder, turmeric and salt. Stir-fry this mixture for about 3-5 minutes. Next, add 2/3 of the chopped Serrano chile. 

Chef's Note: 1 Serrano will give this dish a little zing. If you want to turn up the heat, chop 2 Serranos. 
3. Return heat to medium. Add the cubed venison. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, being careful not to overcook the venison. 

4. Add water, then cover and cook over low heat for 35-45 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally to avoid burning. Keep the fire very low to keep venison from toughening up. Also, keep a watch on the water level. You want it to slowly reduce, but not so much that it burns the dish.
5. While meat simmers, thinly slice the remaining onion. Add 1 tsp. of vegetable oil to a small skillet and cook until soft and golden. Then set aside. 

After 35-45 minutes, add the remaining third of the chopped Serrano, amchur powder and chopped cilantro to the venison. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, allowing all ingredients to blend together. 
6. Pour mixture over hot white rice. Spoon sautéd onion over the venison. Add a sprig of cilantro for color. And enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pan Seared Venison Tenderloin with Bourbon Reduction Sauce

Served with Wild Rice and Pinon Nut Confit on Cheese Polenta

Guest Recipe and Photo by Neal Zeller

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours
- 1 1/2 lb of venison tenderloin
- 1 cup raw wild rice
- 2 tbs. of chopped dates or raisins
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup raw pinon nuts
- 1 cup of yellow corn grits - polenta
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup venison, elk or beef stock
- 1 whole shallot
- 3 to 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of dried mushrooms, Chantarelle or other favorite non-lethal fungi
- olive oil
- 1 tbs. of unsalted butter
- sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper


1.Venison tenderloin is such a rare treat that I don't try to amend the flavor with a lot of marinades or rubs. Pat the tenderloin dry and lightly coat the tenderloin with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. That's it. Allow the tenderloin to come to room temperature.

2. Wash wild rice thoroughly. Bring rice and 2 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer; cook about 40 - 45 minutes. Fully cooked wild rice still has some "tooth" to it. It won't be as soft as white or brown rice. Drain any excess stock from rice. Remove from heat and keep warm.

3. Lightly coat pinon nuts with olive oil and saute over medium heat until lightly golden brown. Pinons burn easily, so keep your eye on 'em. Remove from heat and keep warm, reserving a few of the best looking ones for garnish.

4. Peel and slice shallots thinly. Separate into rings. Next, peel and chop garlic finely. Coat the bottom of a heavy bottom pan with olive oil and saute the shallot until tender and slightly translucent. Add chopped garlic and continue to saute until garlic lightly browns. Add mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes. 

5. Carefully add the bourbon to saute pan. It's best to remove the pan from the heat, then pour in the bourbon. Return the pan to the heat. If you think you have the chops for it, tilt the pan slightly away from you to ignite the bourbon and burn off the alcohol. Yes, it's tres dramitique, and really dangerous if you mess it up. Much of the drama will be lost on your guests if you set your kitchen on fire. Otherwise, the non-flambe method will evaporate the alcohol rather quickly anyway.

6. Add the venison, elk or beef stock. If using commercial beef stock, use one with low or no sodium. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to reduce sauce. For this prep, I strained the sauce for a classier plating. After about 20 minutes, strain the sauce, reserving the liquid. Everything else gets tossed on the compost heap or frozen for soup or something else later. Put strained sauce back into a clean pan and continue to reduce the sauce to your desired consistency. Keep warm and just before plating, whisk in the unsalted butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Bring the other 2 cups of chicken stock to a boil and add the grits. Return to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. When the grits have absorbed all the stock and are slightly thickened, add grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm.

8. Beat the egg thoroughly in a bowl. Add cooked wild rice, pinons, chopped dates or raisins and mix. Place confit mixture in a small, buttered pastry mold of your choice or an old tuna can with the label and both ends removed. Works like a charm. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until confit has set. Remove from oven and keep warm.

9. Heat a little olive oil in a cast iron pan or heavy skillet to medium high. The oil should just start to smoke. Place the room temperature tenderloin in the hot pan and sear all sides, but turning it only once to sear each side. Reduce heat to medium and after about 6 - 8 minutes, start taking readings with a good meat thermometer. I can't say enough good things about meat thermometers. We're looking for an internal temperature of about 115 - 120 degrees. You want this exquisite roast cooked rare. When the temperature has been reached, immediately remove the roast to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes. The internal temperature will rise slightly to about 125 degrees.

10. On warm plates, place rice, pinon confit and some cheese polenta around the confit. Slice the rested tenderloin in thick slices and stand them against the confit. spoon the bourbon reduction sauce at the base of the roast and garnish with a few pinons.

Monday, January 14, 2013

First Day of Work

I'm pleased to report that my first day of work went very well today! After a bittersweet farewell to Rick in Omaha, I made my way down to Lincoln yesterday. I am spending a week down here for training at the main Nebraska Game and Park Commission office in town. I guess everyone was expecting my arrival or something because they all knew my name before I even offered my hand to shake! Everyone was super cool. I just love Nebraskans. I already feel like I'm at home. Although I hate the weather as much as I thought I would-- it was flippin' 5 degrees this morning!-- I'm very excited for all the things I will learn in the next few years. 


I am pretty sure I can nail the photography and writing portion of the job, but the public aspect will be a challenging learning experience. It's the most scary part of my job description, actually... just being able to gain the confidence to speak to people of all walks of life, ages and expertise, and being able to communicate and promote an excitement for the outdoors to the public-- and not sound like a total idiot. Just coming out of college, that is not a skill that I have yet perfected. I'm still very much the green, wide-eyed kid who left home for the first time for college not too long ago. I guess that's a skill that comes with time and experience.I will not only have to learn to put myself out there more, but to also be patient with myself. This is a huge opportunity for me to grow as a writer, photographer, outdoors-woman and all-around person. I'm very grateful and excited. 

To read the rest of the article above, please click here:http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/?p=44642&preview=true

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Anyway, you may be wondering when the heck we will post up another recipe. Well, be patient. Driving cross country in 3 days, unloading in 1, and starting work 3 days later is no joke. Rick and I are still trying to get back into the rhythm of things... and it's hard especially now because we're apart. But please check back for updates. Hopefully, there will be a recipe soon. We thank you for your patience!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Road to Nebraska: Day 2

Remember last night when I said that Grandpa's Grill in New Mexico was good? Well, scratch that! Grandpa's Grill left a lasting impression on me... and it wasn't cute. 

Anyway, after an eventful night in Gallup, Rick and I headed out this morning for Oklahoma City. Neither of us got a good night's sleep.

We left at 6:00 AM this morning. It was 16 degrees. Frost covered my little Honda Civic. 
As we left, the sky became alive in front of us. The sunrise was quite beautiful. It's amazing to see so much sky. Not a sight I'm used to after having lived in Southern California. 
Thirty miles west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, the road was as straight as could be. It seemed to go on forever and forever, as far as the eye could see. 
After what seemed like an extremely long time, we finally broke into Texas. 
At around 1 PM, Rick and I stopped into Amarillo for a bite to eat. Cracker Barrel is one of our favorites!
I had a delicious beef stew and my two favorite sides in the world, fried okra and turnip greens. YUM!
Rick ordered more than he could eat... a whole plate of turkey and dressing! 

After lunch, we dreaded having to get back on the road. We were only halfway to Oklahoma City. I figured we wouldn't reach our destination until 7. 
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally spotted the Oklahoma state line sign. But we knew we still had to drive another 230 or so miles, and we were losing daylight fast. 
The further into Oklahoma we went, the sky became thicker and darker. The road seemed wet. Looked like the rain beat us to it. 

At 7 PM, Rick and I finally pulled up to our hotel. 13 hours on the road... what a butt numbing experience!

Now we sleep, to finish the last leg of our trip. Onto Nebraska!

(These photos were taken off my phone. We will post better pictures from my camera later.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Road to Nebraska: Day 1

After an entire week of tears and goodbyes, Rick and I finally hit the road to move me to Nebraska. The hardest part about today, or this whole thing really, was saying goodbye to my folks. I've been dreading it. My mother doesn't usually cry for anything, but I saw her cry today. And also my dad. Saying goodbye to my best friends, who I've known pretty much all my life was also heart wrenching. I left the place where I grew up a little shaken, but now I must put that past me. I turn my eyes toward the eastern horizon. (Photos taken with my iPhone.)

After leaving my parents for a final farewell, I began my journey out of Southern California and into Arizona. 

It's been awhile since I've been on the road at this hour, 5 AM. On the other side, headlights and tail lights almost touched. Thousands of people were headed the opposite way, to start their day back where I just left. It was a sight that I won't be seeing very often anymore, I thought.
When the sun peeped over the horizon, we were already in the desert, up by Barstow.

And what a desert sunrise it was!
We passed the Mojave desert not long after. I am always amazed by its vastness and beauty. 
We arrived at the border of Arizona at exactly 9 AM. 
Rick and I traveled through its northern lands, where elk country opened up before our eyes. Snow covered mountains dotted and lined the landscape. 

We entered the Kaibab National Forest, where Rick saw a dead cow elk on the side of the road. What a terrible waste of good meat...

I had never experienced Arizona this way before. It wasn't like the hot, dry desert that I only knew and heard about before. Snow was everywhere, but at least the roads were perfectly clear. 

In Flagstaff, Rick and I stopped by a pizza joint called Fratelli's for lunch, as suggested by a follower on Twitter. The pizza was very good!
By this time, Rick and I were dead tired. The New Mexican border seemed so far away. But at around 4 PM, we finally wheeled on in. 
We had a pretty good dinner at a place called Grandpa's Grill in Gallup. Rick had pork chops with beans and rice. 

I had a turkey burger with a salad, which isn't worth posting up. 

Now, it's time for bed. Another long day tomorrow. Another 10 hour drive. Onward, Oklahoma City! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bison and Mushroom Pot Roast

From as far back as I could remember, the American bison has always held for me a certain mythical quality. The Lakota peoples of the Great Plains called them "tatanka," an animal that weighed a ton and roamed our vast prairies in the millions. American Indian tribes depended on these animals not only for food, clothing, shelter and tools, but for spiritual inspiration as well. 
They are so important to our history that the bison's near extinction the 1800s changed America forever. With their disappearance left a whole way of life and an ending of an era, especially for the American Indians of the Western Plains. When I look upon a bison, I remember this chilling history. 

* * *

Last November, Cousin Pete in Nebraska sent us home with a beautiful piece of roast. I'm not exactly sure where Pete got it, but the way I hear it, it had to do with a couple bison, months of broken fences, a fed up farmer and a gun. The rest... is food. 

From what we could tell, it was probably a piece of blade. Since it was too big for steak and not exactly grill friendly, Rick and I thought the best thing to do was to braise it. Braising  is when you cook a large piece of meat in a covered Dutch oven, or similar vessel, with an acidic liquid. 
The Dutch oven should be tightly shut, allowing the liquid and juices to fall back onto the meat as it cooks. The best way to describe braising is that it's low, slow and moist. 

We can't say that we've perfected the art just yet. The Dutch ovens we own tend to allow steam to escape, so we always end up with a lot less liquid than what we started out. This can cause many problems, including dried out meat, uneven cooking, and in worse cases, burning. This is especially dangerous if you're braising wild game, which doesn't have the great marbling and fat that commonly braised meats such as beef and pork would have. To compensate, check your meat every hour to see if you need to add more water, broth or wine. You want enough liquid to cover 2/3 of the roast. I think with wild game, it helps to also flip the meat every hour. Some people do this. Others don't. Try it and see what works best for you. You can also create a better seal by lining the lid with foil.  

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 3.5 hours
- 4-5 lb. bison roast
- 4 tbs. butter
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbs. canola oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. thyme
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1.5 cups of dry red wine
- 3 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise, and into fourths
- 2 small russet potatoes (or equivalent), peeled and diced
- 2 packages of Baby Bella mushrooms
- salt and pepper, to taste
- crusty bread, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Dab bison roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over roast, to taste. 
In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tbs. of butter over high heat. Sear all sides of bison roast for a nice brown crust. Be patient. 

Once browned, remove bison and set aside. 
2. Lower heat to medium. Add 2 tbs. of canola oil. Add onion with a pinch of salt. Cook onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir frequently.

Add chopped garlic. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
3. Next, add 1 1/2 cups wine. Scrape bottom of the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon. 
4. Return bison to Dutch oven with the onion and wine. Add tomatoes and 2 cups of beef broth. 

Add 1/4 tsp. of thyme and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Then cover tightly and bake in a 350 degree oven for 3 hours. Flip meat after every hour. Check if pot needs more liquid. Bison should be covered 2/3 way.
5. During the last 45 minutes, add chopped carrots and potatoes. 
6. During the last fifteen minutes, heat 2 tbs. of butter over medium-high heat in a pan. Sauté Baby Bella mushrooms until cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Stir often. Set aside.
7. Once bison is tender, remove it from the Dutch oven. Shred roast into bite-sized pieces with forks. 
Meat should be fall off the bone tender.
8. Discard bay leaf. Return shredded meat to pan, along with sautéd mushrooms and any juices. 
Adjust seasonings. Serve with crusty bread, like French. Enjoy!!! This makes a fantastic winter dish. 

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