When Does the Harvest End ?
Holistic approach to living off our land
It has been an impressive, educational and rewarding last few years participating in the local food movement. On the farm we have learned to grow beautiful vegetables. Raise chickens for both their eggs and meat. Taken advantage of the blackberry stands and fruit from our trees. Maintain a year round herb garden that seasons our summers as well as the soups and stews throughout the long winter. We continue to contribute to our local economy by purchasing from other local producers the foods that we don’t produce ourselves.
The next step in this evolution is something that we have embraced for years, and want to spread awareness to others, is the resources for food that are are all around us that are very inexpensive and will further your education of your own environment.
The first of witch is wild game. Once relied on heavily as one of the few available protein sources for families. Throughout our country, wild game has fallen back to something seldom considered unless offered as a fine dining entrée and has been transformed to a nuisance/hazard of destruction to flower beds, golf courses, lawns and automotive front ends.
In actuality, wild game is a delightful, delicious local food source that should be utilized and enjoyed by all.
I think we all have a story of a wild game dinner offered by a hunter friend who served, with great pride and fan fair, an after season plate of very well, over-seasoned, curled ended, piece of shoe leather that was more like the sole of a flip flop having been left all summer on the boardwalk of Coney Island. I know, it is a painful memory.
But what if I told you that this fall and over the holidays we served 1-1/2 “ Venison steaks, grilled, seasoned only with salt pepper and a hint of garlic, served medium rare with balsamic roasted brussel sprouts. Or wellington of venison, maple glazed root vegetables and roasted garlic mash potatoes. How about a broiled wild duck breast, or Canadian goose, sliced and served over a parsley pesto with wild rice and roasted veggies. Now doesn’t that sound better.
So, your not a hunter and thinking, “how do I get a hold of some of this great eats”? Here are a few suggestions. If you have a friend who is a hunter, strike up a conversation vent about how your flower beds have been ravaged last summer and you want revenge. You have found a great recipe for venison and could you have them over for a game dinner. They bring some of the meat and you’ll cook it up. Be creative. Most hunters are happy to share in their bounty and it is a great way to socialize at the same time.
Hunting in Michigan offers additional opportunities for multiple tags for game at a nominal cost to the hunter. If you let them know you are interested in game in your freezer, you may be giving them a great reason to get out and hunt some more. If your neighborhood allows hunting with a bow, offer to let hunters hunt on your property. In return for the favor most will offer you some of their success. It may also help thin down your local deer herd and other game, such as rabbits and reduce the browsing in everyones flower beds.
If you are the designated chef of the evening, hear are a few things I recommend to make it a success.
Less is more. Keep seasoning simple. Salt, pepper and maybe one or two other fresh herbs.
If your marinade or other ingredients come from a bag, bottle or jar, leave them in the pantry. Fresh herbs and ingredient will let the game shine through.
Never, ever, serve wild game cooked past “just medium”. I strongly recommend not past medium rare. Any more time on the grill or under the broiler and your better off just calling for a pizza.
Cooking times will be much faster than farm raised meat. The fat content of game is considerably less, that’s a good thing, and in most cases only needs to be seared on both sides and it’s about done.
Stumped on how to cook your own wild game or someone else's? Drop me a note and I’ll get your meal on the right path.
Now get out their and get in the game!