Archive for the 'Food' Category

Suggestions for Preparing Your Spring Turkey

Friday, February 24th, 2017
Roasted Wild Turkey Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Roasted Wild Turkey Recipe photo by Taste of Home

This is Passport to Texas

If you harvest a wild turkey, you can find techniques for preparing it from online experts who are hunters and chefs. A wild turkey has a rich flavor—some say gamey—and is quite lean, which makes it a little tricky to prepare.

Steve Rinella, the outdoorsman known as The Meat Eater, recommends brining wild harvested turkeys to keep them juicy.

Fill a large pot—one big enough to hold the turkey and brine—with a gallon of water. Next add 1 cup of Kosher Salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, the juice of three lemons, and a sliced onion. Heat the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let cool, and then submerge the bird in the brine and allow it to soak for 24 to 48 hours in the fridge.

Remove it from the brine, blot the moisture from the bird with paper towels, and then place it in a shallow baking dish on top of a rack, or on a bed of root vegetables. Rub the turkey with oil, and sprinkle it inside and out with your favorite seasonings.

Place it into an oven, preheated to 375 degrees. Roast the bird until an instant read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let the turkey rest at least 10 minutes before carving.

Steve Rinella says a hunting license should say “all hunters must brine their turkeys before cooking them—no matter the cooking method.” I say that’s a good idea.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Cooking up Cottontail Carnitas

Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Cottontail carnitas a la Evin Cooper

Cottontail carnitas a la Evin Cooper

This is Passport to Texas

I think the late chef and cookbook author, Julia Child coined the expression: Easter Bunny Syndrome. It’s when we decide which animals not to eat based on their perceived cuteness. Rabbits fall into that category.

As Central Texas writer, cook and mom, Evin Cooper tells us, rabbits are as delicious as they are cute, and even better than pork in carnitas. She says her first attempt using cottontails was a success, and began with two rabbits in a slow cooker.

And, I stewed them all day with some beer and some homemade salsa, and let them cook and cook and cook. And then, let them cool—and then I deboned the meat. Then, I let the meat sit in the fridge overnight, and the next day I seasoned it up a little bit more with chili powder and cumin and all those wonderful Mexican spices. And I fried them in some hot oil—just the shredded meat—almost like hash browns. It got really crispy on the bottom, and I flipped it over and got it crispy on the other side—almost to the point of burnt. Then, I put it in warm corn tortillas with avocado slices and lime juice. It was so good. I mean, I’ve given up pork for my carnitas. And I want to use almost entirely cottontail now. It’s just delicious.

Find Evin Cooper’s Cottontail Carnitas recipe at passporttotexas.org.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.
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Rabbit Carnitas
Evin Cooper says to make this flavorful dish is a two-day process, and well worth the effort.

Day One
• 2-3* good size jackrabbits/cottontails, skinned and cleaned
• 1 cup salsa
• 1 beer
Day Two
• Corn or canola oil
• taco seasoning**
• prepared rabbit meat
• corn tortillas
• cilantro
• diced onion
• avocado
• lime

For the meat:
The day before you want to serve the tacos, wash the rabbits and pat dry. In a crockpot or a large stock pot, add the rabbits, salsa and beer. Use both your favorite salsa and beer. (Stick with a lighter beer. Dark beers will overpower the flavor of the meat.) Cook the rabbits until they are fall-off-the-bone tender (3-4 hours on the stove, 4-6 hours in a crockpot) and allow to cool a bit. When you can handle the rabbits, pull the meat off the bone and discard the bones. Add the juices from the pot to the shredded meat and refrigerate overnight.
To prepare the tacos:
Heat about ½ inch of oil in a shallow, wide skillet. Toss the cold meat with the taco seasoning and the reserved juices until well combined – use your hands for even distribution. When the oil shimmers, grab a handful of the shredded rabbit and squeeze out most of the juice and put it into the hot oil. Repeat the squeezing process until there is an even layer of meat in the pan, and press down with a spatula once, then leave it alone. Let the bottom get crispy, then toss the meat and press the non-crispy side into the pan to crisp. When crispy, remove from the pan and drain, and repeat with the rest of the meat until all the rabbit has had a turn in the hot oil.
Meanwhile warm corn tortillas on a comal (or in a heavy skillet), dice red onions, chop cilantro, slice limes and cube some avocado, crumble some cotija cheese (optional)
Top a warm corn tortilla with about ¼ cup of the crispy meat, and the toppings of your choice.

*I got about 8 tacos per rabbit, but it really depends on the size of your kill and how stuffed you like your tacos!
**Please don’t use a packet from the grocery store! If you don’t already have a taco mix recipe that you love, find one! Or, you can just season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano and chile.

Cooking up Crappie with Tim Spice

Monday, December 26th, 2016
Cooking fresh-caught crappie at the campsite.

Cooking fresh-caught crappie at the campsite.

This is Passport to Texas

Crappie offer anglers an enjoyable fishing opportunity any time of year. Bring home a cooler full, because fresh crappie are easy to prepare and are delicious.

We’re going to show you how to take your catch from the day and fry it up and have a great meal for you and your family.

Tim Spice works for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and is an avid outdoor cook. In his first preparation, Tim applies salt and pepper to the crappie fillets, and then coats them with cornmeal.

You can do it a little thicker if you like—with an egg wash or even a little bit of milk or buttermilk. But this is pretty simple; you’ll get a great fish flavor just this way.

He places the fillets in hot oil and cooks them for two minutes on each side. For a lighter version, Tim rubs the fillets with chopped tarragon and a squeeze of lemon. He uses a cast iron griddle to cook the fish.

First off, we’re going to add a little bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking, and it adds some great flavor. Then we’re going to take those fillets that we put the tarragon on and put them straight on the pan.

After about two minutes on each side they are done.

You want to know how your fish are done. Take a fork, and if you can break apart the flakes, that means your fish is done.

Find fish and game recipes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Processing What You Hunt

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
Making sausage in the Feral Austin Commercial Kitchen.

Making sausage in the Feral Austin Commercial Kitchen.

This is Passport to Texas

Chris Houston of Austin is a hunter and home cook; he butchers and processes what he harvests; but that’s not always been practical.

We have a decent sized [kitchen] counter space, but certainly a limited area and limited equipment.

Hunters, says Houston, go to processors because of limited workspace, equipment, and a lack experience. He adds processors are decent folks who provide a good service – but he still wonders what comes back to him.

Am I getting back my animal in the sausage? Am I getting all the meat that I had taken in there?

Houston taught himself to butcher and process, and excels at it now. To empower others to do the same, he offers a fully equipped commercial kitchen and his knowledge as Feral Kitchen, a wild food workspace.

Butchering and sausage-making tends to feel complicated. However, it can be really simplified. And so, we really want to pass on that education and that confidence to others. We’ve been offering some classes on general game butchering, and some other classes on sausage-making to kind of help people take that step in the learning curve to doing it themselves. And, really, to just try and simplify the entire process.

Learn more about butchering and processing wild game on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Upland Game Bird Forecast

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
Bobwhite quail

Bobwhite quail

This is Passport

Substantial rainfall and mild summer temperatures across the state bode well for quail hunters.

Typically when you’re thinking about quail hunting in Texas, you’re thinking about south Texas and also the rolling plains up in north Texas and the Panhandle and things are certain looking great in both of those areas.

Robert Perez is Upland Game Program Leader at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Scale quail, in West Texas, are doing exceptionally well.

It’s why people come to Texas [to hunt]. And in the desert when it rains, everything turns green and blooms and the timing has been very good so our numbers are pretty staggering as far as what we’ve been seeing with scaled quail in west Texas. And we expect to see some great opportunities.

Quail isn’t the only upland game bird doing well this season. Perez says turkey hunting is on the rise.

Wild turkey hunting is a growing sport. The excitement of calling in a bird and it coming in—a big old Tom. They really rely on spring moisture to be successful at nesting. And, so we’re going to see a variety of ages, which is great for hunters because they’ll be looking for that mature bird but they’ll also be some three and four year old birds in there. If you had to put a number on it or qualify the season for turkey for Rio Grande Turkey it’s looking excellent.

Hunting in Texas is big business bringing more than three-billion dollars to the state’s economy.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.