North Coast Journal



All in the game

by Betty Thompson

ONE OF THE real pleasures of eating in Germany and England is to try game dishes such as pheasant, elk, wild boar and deer available in restaurants as well as meat markets.

We learn from "Scottish Cookery" a book by Catherine Brown: "Game dealers and butchers (about 200 of them in Scotland) now make available a variety of game so that it is not only those who hunt who can enjoy the merits of this meat. About 40,000 Red Deer are sold commercially in Scotland to registered game dealers who export about 80 percent of this to West Germany, which continues to offer the highest prices for Scottish venison. The remaining 20 percent of venison is sold through game dealers to other countries besides West Germany so it is difficult to say how much venison is eaten in Scotland."

British game patés, terrines and pies are among the finest and all are ready for sampling at the nearest British "deli."

In Germany, in addition to other types of game one can sample such dishes as:


Here in the States one must hunt or have a generous friend who hunts in order to sample wild game. Game provides a huge range of subtle flavors reflecting the animal's diet, in sharp contrast to the more predictable flavors of domestic meat.

Most experts agree that field care is of utmost importance to assure the best quality of the game meat. Our local game warden Nick Albert advises hunters to dress the animal correctly, and to hang it in a cooler for two or three days. Trim off the fat, which tends to be strong flavored.

The California Cooperative Extension publishes two pamphlets, "Prepare to Enjoy Your Venison" and "How to Field Dress a Deer." Call 445-7351 if you would like a copy.

Several North Coast meat packers will cut and wrap. Fernbridge Meat also makes salami and pepperoni or cures a ham, all of which are excellent.

There is a difference between a wild game flavor and a strong off flavor. The latter generally comes from poor field handling. If the wild flavor does not appeal to you (for some this is an acquired taste), cut off all fat and substitute a fat you like. Pork is frequently used. Wild meats have a much lower proportion of fat to muscle so additional fat or moisture is necessary.

Try using a good marinade which flavors as well as tenderizes the meat. Some complimentary herbs with venison are: juniper berries (these are !/4-inch round ripe berries from the juniper bush and have a pleasant resinous smell and flavor), rosemary, tarragon, basil, bay leaf and thyme. Use one or two of these seasonings along with a little oil and acid from the following: wine (such as Madeira, port, Claret), lemon juice, cranberry juice, or wine vinegars.

Some tasty accompaniments to game are cranberry, blueberry, plum, red currant, sour cherry or Cumberland sauces; horseradish, chutney, apples, sweet and sour cabbage, wild mushrooms and wild rice.

A delicious smoke flavor can be added to most cuts of meat in only one or two hours. For larger roasts, smoke up to four or five hours. Cook the meat first and take it directly from the oven to the smoker.

Use bacon for basting cuts that will be in the smoker for more than two hours. Smaller cuts can be basted with a little oil or marinade.

If you're not one of the lucky ones, this month's recipes can easily be prepared using beef or lamb.


Cocktail Meatballs

A perfect do-ahead holiday buffet choice from Carol Bivens of Arcata.

1 pound venison
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 bottle Spicy Bulls Eye Barbecue Sauce
1 jar tart plum jelly

Mix all ingredients except barbecue sauce and jelly. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Space on a greased cookie sheet and broil until browned. Turn once.

Remove immediately and discard fat. Combine chili sauce and jelly in a skillet, and heat until jelly is melted. Carefully stir in meatballs and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve in a chafing dish.


Bacon Wrapped Venison Patties

Grill or pan fry these spicy patties and serve with fresh chanterelles and apple slices that have been sautéed in the pan drippings.

1 pound ground venison
1 pound ground pork
1 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup port or applejack
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon or thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 strips bacon

Squeeze the moisture from the spinach. Thoroughly combine all ingredients except the bacon. This can be done in a heavy-duty mixer.

Divide mixture into eight patties. With a rolling pin, flatten bacon and wrap around the edge of each patty. Fry or grill over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.

This was adapted from a recipe in "Hot Links and Country Flavors" by Aidells and Kelly.


Venison Sausage

Pat Albert of Arcata likes to keep a good supply of this delicious sausage.

4 pounds ground venison
1 pound ground pork
5 teaspoons salt
2!/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
5 teaspoons sage
Mix thoroughly; wrap in one-pound packages and freeze.


Chili Alaska

Start with dried beans cooked and simmered on the stove or start with canned beans and give the chili a long slow simmer in a large crock pot.

2 pounds dried red beans cooked or eight 16-ounce cans red kidney beans
1/4 pound salt pork, cubed
3 pounds venison, cubed
2 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
11/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1-6 dried red chilies, seeded and crushed (optional)
1/2 cup chili powder (Gebhardt's)
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, skinned and diced

In a large skillet, saute salt pork and cubed meat. Add a little oil if necessary. Add onions and sauté until tender.

Combine cooked beans, meat, seasonings and tomatoes in a large pot and simmer for 90 minutes or place in a large crock pot and simmer on low for 10 to 12 hours. This is best made a day ahead. Serve with chopped onion and grated cheddar cheese. Yield: 6 quarts. Adapted from "Cooking Alaskan by Alaskans."


Venison Jerky

3 pounds venison sliced thin
1 cup Kikkoman teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Marinate overnight. Dry at 135° for 5-6 hours.


Betty Thompson is currently teaching Mid-East cooking and entertaining. Call HSU Center Activities, 826-3357.

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