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Steven Rinella is widely respected for his knowledge of the outdoors, natural history, and food (his recipes in his hunting manuals are often cited by fans as their favorite part of the books). This cookbook includes recipes for big game, small game, waterfowl, upland birds, both freshwater and saltwater fish, reptiles, amphibians, shellfish, and crustaceans, as well as basic recipes for stocks, sauces, marinades, pickles, and rubs. Rinella is a masterful storyteller, and the book includes personal stories as well as practical advice. It explains how to break down and cook wild game with step-by-step recipes and gorgeous photos.
STEVEN RINELLA is an outdoorsman, writer, and television personality best known for his ability to translate the hunting lifestyle to a wide variety of audiences. He is the author of two volumes of The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Game; Meat Eater- Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter; American Buffalo- In Search of a Lost Icon; and The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine (all Spiegel & Grau). His writing has also appeared in many publications, including Outside, Field and Stream, the New Yorker, Glamour, the New York Times, Men's Journal, Salon.com, Oprah Magazine, Bowhunter, and the anthologies Best American Travel Writing and Best Food Writing.
"As a MeatEater fan who loves to cook, I can tell you that this book is a must-have for anyone who ever spends any time harvesting food in the outdoors. The recipes are superb and simple, and the learning here is immense. Most importantly, home cooks looking for great ways to stretch their boundaries even in the smallest ways will delight in this superb reference for fish and game meat cookery. Steven Rinella is the total package when it comes to food and the great outdoors."--Andrew Zimmern "Field-to-table cooking is 'the new black.' But when it comes to cookin' up wild game, it's important to give the animal the respect it deserves both in the field and the kitchen, as it's not as simple as just throwin' everything on the grill and expecting a great outcome. In The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook, Steven Rinella goes to the next level and offers some real deal culinary know-how to make sure that your friends and family will dig what you put on the table."--Guy Fieri
"As a hunter and a chef, I appreciate the mindfulness and awareness that Steven Rinella brings to conservation and food utilization. His work is thoughtful and necessary for a modern world that is reconnecting with its food sources."--Joshua Skenes
"In this insightful and straightforward look at cooking what one hunts, [Rinella] proves to be as skilled with a pen as he is with a gun. . . . Rinella includes clear, photo-enhanced instructions on gutting, skinning, and butchering, along with taste charts that explain the differing flavors and textures of similar beasts. . . . The nose-to-tail approach incorporates everything from bullfrog legs (simmered in butter and wine) to duck hearts (grilled and served with a walnut pesto). Rinella is at the top of his game in this must-read cookbook for those seeking a taste of the wild."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Yes, you should actually buy this fish and game cookbook . . . full of helpful information for the hunter and non-hunter alike. . . . Anyone new to hunting or fishing will find a wealth of solutions to the mysteries upon which they are embarking. What strikes me about this book, however, is not how helpful it is for hunters. For while there can be no doubt about that . . . what is far more interesting is how useful this book is for people who don't hunt, who don't have game to process. . . . Due to Rinella's use of different types of game as an organizing principle, the book is wonderfully varied. There are recipes for goose pastrami, tea smoked duck, marrow bones and hot pots. Because he is not pinned to a restaurant or a region, Rinella is free to include recipes from all over the world, at varying levels of difficulty. He douses salmon in tequila to make a cilantro hinted gravlax, and fills up big pots to make a crab boil. . . . Is this a cookbook, as it claims, for every hunter and angler? Of course it is. But it's also a cookbook for everyone else."--The Daily Beast
01 Big Game INTRODUCTION The big game section is in the front of this book because it is a fitting position for what I consider to be the pinnacle of the wild game world. While I regard myself as a hunting generalist (I''ll chase anything that''s good to eat, and at times my definition of good has been elastic enough to include everything from common carp to porcupines), big game hunting is my deepest passion. I killed my first deer when I was thirteen, after two unsuccessful seasons of misses and mistakes. I''ve kept at it, without ever missing a season, for the past thirty-three years. Every fall and winter, I put fifty days or more into pursuing big game. I believe that it''s the most challenging form of hunting, both physically and mentally, and it pays off in the biggest way. Long ago, I committed to feeding my family a diet of wild meat. Big game is how I''m able to stay true to that commitment. Most hunters share my fondness. According to statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 80 percent of all hunters chase big game at some point during the year. Each of those hunters has his or her own particular set of motivations, but you can''t argue with the seductive size of big game animals. A mature whitetail deer can yield anywhere from forty to eighty pounds of boneless, recipe-ready meat. An elk can yield well over two hundred pounds. A moose, well over three hundred pounds. In addition to abundance, big game also gives you variety. I break my deer down into a dozen different cuts, ranging from short ribs to sirloins to tongue. Each cut is suitable for an endless array of recipes and preparations. With just a single deer in your freezer, you can have months'' worth of eating with no fear of redundancy or boredom. This cut-based approach is the key to big game cooking. It remedies a problem that I have with wild game cookbooks in general, which tend to draw unnecessary distinctions among various species of antlered and horned game. To me, there is no fundamental difference between a recipe for a pronghorn antelope shank and a recipe for a whitetail deer shank beyond some minor adjustments in cooking times. In fact, I''d argue that it''s more important to understand what part of the animal you''re cooking than it is to understand what kind of big game animal it came from. Keep this approach in mind as you work through this section. Virtually every recipe here is interchangeable from one big game species to the next. Admittedly, the recipe for Kimchi Tacos with Wild Pig or Javelina shoulder on page 152 is especially suitable for the stringier meat and sometimes stronger flavors of those particular animals. But it could easily be applied to a venison shoulder or bear shoulder, as all three of these pieces of meat share in common a lot of sinews and connective tissue that will break down during the cooking process and yield a finished product that is rich, moist, and silky. This is just one example where substitutions are appropriate; I have called out many others in the following recipes. I''m hopeful that you''ll make additional discoveries on your own as you apply these methods to whatever big game happens to turn up in your freezer over the coming years. Finally, I''d like to throw in a few thoughts on the subject of big game meat that tastes "gamey," a term that drives me a little bit insane every time I hear it. As best as I can tell, gamey has no fixed definition. I''ve heard it used to describe a dozen or more different things. It''s used to describe meat that was spoiled, meaning rotten, from improper handling in the field. I''ve heard it used to describe meat that hadn''t been trimmed of tallow and blood clots. I''ve heard it used to describe meat that had been tainted by secretions from the tarsal gland on a deer''s back leg. And I''ve heard it used by people who are trying to say that game meat doesn''t taste like the flavorless beef that they''re used to buying from fast-food restaurants. Whatever it actually means to you or the people you''re cooking for, most causes of gamey meat can be eliminated by taking a careful approach to your hunting techniques and field care. First off, don''t let fly with an arrow or bullet unless you know exactly what''s going to happen when you do it. There is no place for guesswork or surprises when it comes to marksmanship. You need to put your projectile cleanly through the lungs and/or heart of the animal for a quick, clean kill. Poor shot placement can lead to an animal being heavily stressed before it eventually dies. When that happens, there''s a chance that the animal could indeed have tough meat with strong, off-putting flavors. Gut the animal immediately. Big game animals have an internal body temperature of over one hundred degrees. Once the animal is dead, that heat will quickly spoil the meat. The area around the ball joints, at the base of the rear legs, is the first to go. Removing the guts helps cool things down. In this chapter you''ll see how to properly do the job. After gutting, pack the chest cavity with ice or snow. If need be, quarter the animal and get the quarters into a walk-in meat locker, a household fridge, or even a cooler loaded with ice. Whatever it takes, keep the animal cold and dry until you''re ready to butcher it. And when it comes to butchering, keep things cold and clean and follow the directions that are laid out here. You''ll eliminate the majority of your gamey situations. But no amount of careful shooting and trimming is going to change the minds of squeamish folks who think that anything other than domestically produced meat tastes different and, therefore, gamey. What will change their minds is repeated exposure to what real meat actually tastes like. It only helps when it''s properly prepared and served. Getting a deer--or an elk, moose, caribou, or bear--in your freezer is the first step of the process. This chapter is the second step. Enjoy. The Big Buck/Little Buck Myth A lot of hunters have this idea that big bucks aren''t that good to eat. This is nonsense. There are myriad factors that influence the palatability of a deer; age is hardly the defining one. We put this idea to the test on a Colorado mule deer hunt when we killed two bucks. The first was a three- to four-year-old giant; the second was a year-and-a-half-old forky. Served raw, the unanimous consensus was that the bigger and older ham was a better piece of meat. In all fairness, the older buck had been aged a day or so longer--which goes to show that factors beyond the animal''s age are at play when it comes to quality meat. THE NATURE OF THE BEAST American Pronghorn (Antelope) The meat of the American pronghorn, or antelope, tends to be rather polarizing. Critics often say that it tastes gamey or musky, while fans of antelope will say that the faint hint of sage is a welcome attribute that brings to mind the open landscapes of the American West. Unpleasant experiences with antelope meat can be avoided if the hunter practices good marksmanship and field care. If you follow all of the advice within this book, you''ll find that antelope have an excellent flavor on par with the finest big game animals. Black Bear During the time of Daniel Boone, black bear was the preferred meat on the American frontier. Deer were good for buckskin clothes, bear was good for eating. There''s no reason to think any differently about black bear meat today. Trimmed of fat, the meat is excellent and can be used for a wide variety of purposes. When slow-cooked or braised it resembles beef pot roast in texture and flavor. The quality of the meat does vary according to the animal''s diet. Bears that have been feeding on fish or marine mammals can have an off-putting fishy taste. A bear that''s been feeding heavily on rotten carrion can also taste bad. These occasions are rare, however, as most black bears derive the bulk of their diet from plant matter. Some of the best bear meat comes from animals feeding on berries or hardwood mast. When baiting bears, avoid using animal or fish matter so that you don''t taint the flesh of the animals that you''re hunting. Trichinosis is another consideration with bear meat. Unless you''ve had your animal tested, it''s safe to assume that all bears are infected by microscopic Trichinella larvae--the same larvae that used to commonly infect domestic pork and is still present in wild hogs. Destroying the threat is simple: cook all bear meat to 160
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