Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wild Dinner

If you know me, you know I hunt, and I eat what I hunt, with great gusto. If you know hunting, you know the biggest complain is that game meat is tough and tastes horribly strong.

First off, "store meat" is generally made to have about zero flavor -which makes it good for cooking because it takes the the flavor of whatever you're cooking. I'm not that big on store meat.

Most wild game falls in the red meat category - even birds like goose and duck. (Turkey does have white meat). The trick is to treat it like red meat, with some extra care. Be kind to it!

And BRINE it.

Right now we are in the midst of heavy duck hunting, and wild duck can be some mighty tasty stuff. The first thing to do is take the meat (you can pluck them if you realllllly want to, we cut the breast meat out, which is that massive majority of the edible meat on them), wash it, and check for any shot. Remove blood clots, and just check all over for yuck. It should like like a hunk of red meat :) I like to give it a nice soak in ice cold water in the fridge for a few hours, then you can pack it and freeze it, or, if you're going eat today, brine that stuff.

Brining isn't hard. It's just sugar, salt and water. Sometimes I get fancy and use BROWN sugar, but sometimes just regular sugar. You want about one cup of sugar, one cup of salt (I use canning salt because it's cheaper) and a gallon of water. You'll want to leave the meat in there for at least an hour, preferably more, up to a day. If the brine gets really bloody, change it out for fresh (the ice water soak should help this.)

When you are done brining, you want to give the meat a quick rinse and THEN go to whatever marinade you want if you plan on a fast cook, or just prep it as you normally would for stew, chili, pot roast, whatever.

Today was duck day, and I brined it for about 4 hours, then made a simple marinade of crushed up mango (thawed from frozen), apple cider vinegar and some ground pepper. I let it sit for about an hour in the fridge, then placed the duck breasts in a hot pan with a little bit of oil. I poured the marinade all over, and let it simmer away, adding about another cup or two of frozen mango. I turned the duck over once, and I would guess it cooked at a simmer for about 30 minutes - a kind of braising. Usually duck is served rare-ish, but I'm not up to watching it that closely, and besides, I'm the only one in the house that eats meat rare - majority rules.

After about half an hour, the mango simmered down to a thick sauce, and the vinegar flavor had cooked off. We were left with some really tender duck breast with a tart fruity sauce. Even the kiddo loved it :) Didn't even have to use a knife to cut it!

No comments: