More On [or Moron] Hunting

KevinHuntingLeave a Comment

More pictures, as promised. This is a cow and calf we caught in the open. I had told Jacques I wanted a ‘5 minute moose’ at 50-100 yards, meaning one that would sit there and let me gather my composure prior to shooting anything…for 5 minutes. Well it turns out that’s a tall order, so instead, I got a “1 minute, 220 yard moose”. So this is the calf I shot. I’m mean. But I’m eating part of the tenderloin tonight, and man this poor thing will be appreciated. At this time of year, the calves are still nursing, so it’s essentially wild ‘veal’.

In this area of the province, you can get a tag for a ‘late season’ bull moose. I had a calf tag. If I’d had a bull tag, it would not have taken 67 moose sightings to finally get one.

My dad had a White-Tailed Deer tag, but this guy was ‘not big enough’. Plus, we were looking for elk at the time. Lucky for the deer. I’ve got myself lined up for some venison this fall – can’t wait to give it a go in the kitchen to see how it compares to elk and moose.

And a confession: the worst part of hunting is killing something. The rest is fun. And eating it is great. But I don’t know that I’ll ever enjoy killing big animals.

Moose Hunting 2006

KevinHunting1 Comment

This photo tells a lot about the hunt I had. What you see, is myself in the lovely blaze orange hat, and my cousin Darwin, being photographed by my dad. Behind us are 6 moose, 4 of which you can see in the picture. The black stuff behind Darwin’s head…a moose. The two between us in the photo are obvious, and there’s another less obvious one just above the front of my scope. What’s very noteable here, as most hunters would pick up on, is that we’re not even paying attention to them. Now normally, seeing a single moose is an occasion – nevermind this many at once. But we were already spoiled by this point. Jacques showed me more moose in two days than most would see in a lifetime before I finally felt good about a shot, and took the 67th moose we spotted. That’s right, 67 moose. In two days.

More on Food: Wild Big Game

KevinBig Game, Butchering Game Meats, Elk, From The Wild, Hunting, Moose3 Comments

Tomorrow morning I’m up at 5 to head north on a hunting trip for a variety of big game. I’m going to be looking for my first calf moose, but the guys have tags for a whitetail buck, elk calves, cows, bulls – so who knows what will come of it.

As my foodiness has exploded over the past few years, this type of excursion has become more and more attractive. I’ve travelled a lot of countries looking for unique culinary experiences and traditions, and this is definitely one that I was born into and neglected for a lot of years. Admitedly, I’m by far the most culinary driven of the bunch – but what’s wrong with that? And the older I get, the more I value opportunities to spend time with close family and friends – so it’s attractive in that respect as well.

The guys had a successful morning last Monday, and I spent most of yesterday cutting cow elk. Our butchering methods have changed a fair bit this year – the biggest change being that we’re naming every cut by standard beef-cutting nomenclature. Previously things were roasts, steaks, or sausage trim. Maybe stew meat in there as well. This elk was separated into ribeye, t-bone, porterhouse, top sirloin, brisket, blade steak, blade roast, sirloin tip steaks, rump steak, round roasts, round steaks, sausage trim [which Jacques and I kept meticulously sinew-free – cleanest I’ve seen], and then the bowl of ‘prime trim’ I kept from only the backstraps (loins), tenderloins, and top sirloins. That’s going to make some fine ground meat for terrines and sausage.

Ultimately, cooked properly, it’s all very good useable meat – but it certainly helps me in the kitchen to know how to tackle it if I know where it came from. A ribeye suggests grilling as a steak. A tenderloin piece screams ‘sauté’. Brisket wants to be braised. And rump roasts are best for cutting slabs into jerky. So I’m being picky, trying not to be shy about it, and instead taking pride in it. I definitely am reluctant to talk about this kind of thing at times out of fear of being pegged as a snob. One thing speaking out with my chef hat on has changed is the seeking of calves, rather than their large antlered counterparts. So maybe I need to keep speaking up.

This fall I’ve learned a lot about food. I’ve gained a lot of respect for elk round cuts. I’ve learned that top sirloin is going to be one of my new favorite cuts, and why. I’ve learned that what I used to call ‘filet mignon’ is actually the ‘tenderloin’, and that the filet mignon is a subsection of the tenderloin. I now know how to cut ribeye, t-bone, and porterhouse out of what I’d previously have all called ‘loin’. I learned some handy techniques to remove every spec of sinew out of grouse breasts and filets. I’ve cooked with wild goose livers and hearts for the first time. I’ve learned that there’s little discernable difference in flavour profile between Ross, White Fronted, and Canada Goose. Henry taught me a few things about dry aging meat, and I’ve seen white molds on aging game for the first time thanks to him. I’ve learned that some saws are better for quartering animals. I know these are things that most people wouldn’t value. But I do.

I’m sure going to miss my wife this week. Since we’ve been married, we’ve spent a handful of nights apart. And the baby is starting to move a lot in the mornings – so this trip better be good!!!

You should thank Gordon Ramsay

KevinCharcuterie, From The Wild, Game Birds, PhilosoFood, Sausage, WaterfowlLeave a Comment

I hunted, killed, butchered, cleaned, cured, and confit’d 11 wild ducks. Not 1. Eleven. I pitted and dried a bunch of evans cherries that a friend picked for me. I roasted a sweet potato, days ahead. I ground pork fat and the above mixture. I moistened the mixture with some white wine I made. I stuffed it in hog casing. I made many pounds of sausage from the above ingredients. And I hated it.
It was good in theory. The duck confit and sweet potato is a successful combo, but somewhere along the line, this made the nastiest textured and not so nice flavoured sausage. So I threw it out. I quoted world-famous scottish born chef Gordon Ramsay as I walked to the dumpster. One of his philosophies, if you can call it that, is “don’t let your mistakes leave the kitchen”. Now if I was starving, I’d eat it. But I wouldn’t proudly serve it to guests. And I certainly am not interested in eating many pounds of the brutal stuff on my own. So hopefully I’ll sleep well tonight having thrown away all that work. Amongst the lessons learned: until I have more experience, follow a damn recipe from my charcuterie bible before venturing out boldly on my own. And any of you who eat from my kitchen can thank Gordon Ramsay for not having to partake in my mistakes.

‘Mo’ Meat’

KevinBig Game, Butchering Game Meats, Elk, From The Wild, Hunting, MooseLeave a Comment

I’ve been studying meat cutting again. Got a call yesterday that there will be an elk to butcher this weekend. And next week, I’m going on my first moose hunt where I actually have a tag. I’m planning on having a game dinner here, likely on Nov 11th. I’m hoping to have some home-made fresh sausages, smoked sausages, hickory smoked jerky, some fresh filet mignon to sauté, and a cured and smoked brisket. We’ll see.

And if you know me well and have any interest in some choice cuts of fresh elk or calf moose, let me know soon. It’s better never having been frozen, as many things are. So if you’re going to eat game at all this entire year, the coming 2-3 weeks is the best time to do it.

Note: ‘mo meat’ is quoting my niece when she was 2 or so, and I was serving her game. We didn’t know if she’d like it. She did.

Wife, Art, and surprise: Food

KevinGardening, PhilosoFoodLeave a Comment

My lovely and pregnant wife is starting to show, which is pretty head-warping, but also very cool.
Our friend Thaneah just left – she stopped by to drop off some copies of the CD we worked on earlier in the year. Looks like we’ll be working on another one this winter. A little shorter, a little more collaborative rather than me producing her material, and bartered for her doing a very large painting of the area we love in tuscany for our wall. She’s an extremely talented painter.
A local passerby knocked on our window today to ask me if she could have some of my tomatoes. She was overjoyed to get some. Yet another great reason to garden: sharing.
I’m finding that fall is tiring for one obsessed with food. I’m actually getting stressed about it all, believe it or not. Nothing serious, just odd. I bought 20 lbs of peaches and pears today. My 2 favorite fruit, just after their peak, being cleared out at a blow-out produce store. I’m a cheap-ass. I didn’t need the work. But what I’m after is pear ice cream. And peach ice cream. Don’t sound that crazy anymore, does it?

Shaggy Mane Season 2006

KevinForaging, From The Wild, MushroomsLeave a Comment

It is Shaggy Mane season. Well, there’s really not a season, it depends on rain and temperature. But when the weather dips in the fall, and after a few days of good rain, they are around – popping through lawns, mostly along rural roads.

This picture is evidence of my food-nerdiness. The mushrooms have simply been scraped of their ‘shag’, and split from their stems. Cooked gently in butter, and paired with an egg fritatta and a nice cheese is one of those culinary things that’s incredibly simple yet sophisticated. And if you’ve never tried them and can be at my place for lunch or supper in the next week, let me know.

Tired

KevinPhilosoFoodLeave a Comment

In the last week or so, I’ve made pork paté de campagne, vanilla bean ice cream, wild cranberry sauce, 4 quarts of duck stock, 2 ducks worth of duck confit, cured then confit’d 11 wild ducks in domestic duck fat, made roughly 3 lbs of moose hickory smoked jerky, 3 lbs of elk hickory smoked jerky, cured a leg roast of wild boar, roasted a chicken, made chicken stock, made a batch of ‘sauce bigarade’ that I hated and threw out, blanched the zest of 3 citrus fruit, baked 4 pizzas made from scratch, made 1 batch of pizza sauce from scratch, a garden onion compotée, baked 2 baguettes [which will be 4 by tomorrow morning], made a batch of wild cranberry ice cream, crème anglaise, and baked chocolate lava cakes – on top of the usual day-to-day cooking. I dug a few hundred pounds of red potatoes, about 10 lbs of russian fingerling potatoes, 2 rutabagas, some huge carrots, half a 5 gallon bucket of beets, 1 wild mushroom, 2 huge butternut squash [my first!], and 5 ears of corn.

Oh yeah, and I dropped the slalom course in crappy weather, and pulled the boat and lift out of the lake. The previous week I’d been up a few times before 5am to go goose hunting, and helped butcher and pack about 11 ducks and 107 geese, and made about 22lbs of goose sausage.

And work’s been really busy. So basically, I have been getting up, working, from 6am to 10pm, and then sleeping. I’m tired.

Engagement Party Dinner

KevinCharcuterie, Sweet Stuff, WineLeave a Comment

Saturday night I put together an ultra-posh ‘French Bistro’ themed 5 course menu to celebrate M & D’s engagement. A quick review:

Wine pairing for the next two courses: Crémant d’Alsace from Turkheim we brought back from our recent trip to France. It’s essentially champagne, from Alsace. We tasted at a lot of wineries before settling on this as our favourite.

Foie Gras Parisienne
A solid block of foie gras I purchased in Paris, between two layers of crabapple jelly Linda Plante made, topped with a compotée of garden onion with quatre épices and rosemary cider vinegar mom and David brought back from Normandy. Served with toasted home-made baguette rounds. The shot above shows the table decor and the Foie Gras course on the upper left.

Paté de Campagne
Pork shoulder and liver terrine with brandy. Served with french acidic cornichons, dijon mustard at 12 oclock, wallonian peppercorn mustard at 6. Garnished with butter poached shaggy mane mushroom I picked locally.

Wine pairing for next two courses: 2001 Domaine Pavelot Pernard Vergelesses, 1er Cru – Les Vergelesses. When Burgundy is good, it’s really, really good. We met the winemaker in Savigny Les Beaune, France in June.

Duck Confit
Domestic duck submerged and poached in duck fat for 5 hours, served with plain boiled garden potatoes, julienne of blanched orange and lemon zest, and a wild high bush cranberry sauce. I picked the cranberries the day before in the ravine where we do our daily walk.

Cheese Board
Brie de Meaux – which is easily the nastiest Brie you will ever try; Morbier; St. Honoré from Québec, and Roquefort Noir. Cheese boards are always a highlight of a meal for me. Especially when they’re so nasty, that an inevitable debate of how to describe the nastiness ensues.

Moelleux ‘Perraudin’
This is a chocolate lava cake – Gordon Ramsay’s recipe – with home-made vanilla bean ice cream and its vanilla bean custard. I had this at the Perraudin in Paris, and forever have wanted to make it since. The presentation was wanting, but the flavours were wicked.

Overall, a memorably wonderful evening, worthy of celebrating a joyous engagement! Life is good.

Culinary Accomplishment – Paté de Campagne

KevinCharcuterieLeave a Comment

I am preparing for a very posh, French Bistro-themed dinner party to celebrate M&D’s engagement. Included on the starter menu: Paté de Campagne. Luckily, my charcuterie mentor had a great recipe for me to run with – and this baby is gonna be good. Some flavour components to get one excited: pork liver, brandy, nutmeg, clove, and heavy cream. I haven’t tasted it yet, but this thing smells amazing.

This is a really common item to see on french bistro menus, as well as in charcuterie shops across France. I will soon attempt more posh versions that include wrapping it in cured meat, studding it with pistachios or sour cherries, or wrapping the forcemeat around a center of duck confit or foie gras.
I’m a geek.