Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Learning to “Play the Game”

Friday, November 27th, 2015
South Texas Antelope dish

South Texas Antelope, chipotle risotto, grilled okra, espresso red wine reduction; photo courtesy Alcalde Grill, Gonzales, Texas

This is Passport to Texas

Hunters are beginning to fill their freezers with venison.

07—Most people will make stew out of it or they’ll grind up what’s left over and they’ll make sausage out of it.

Those traditional preparations are tasty, but Chef Austin Brown, owner of the Alcalde Grill in Gonzales challenges home cooks to get out of their comfort zones. And that means not using this common culinary crutch.

15— Get away from the Italian dressings and use brines. A heavily salted water with some sort of acid—maybe a little flavored vinegar in it—lemon juice, lime juices. Those things do the exact same thing as a marinade.

He says home cooks default to stews and sausages because those recipes mask the meat’s perceived gamy flavor. But Chef Brown says a properly cooked venison back strap or leg filet, for example, is sublime.

20— I would brine it in salt water and cut it into individual steaks; season it with just salt and pepper…a little bit of garlic and a little bit of butter, and grill it on the grill. Or sear it in a pan, cooking it to about medium rare and eating it that way. Some of the best deer that you can eat is just seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in a pan.

Find a recipe from Chef Austin Brown at

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


Sea Salt Quail, Chef Austin Brown

Sea Salt Quail, Chef Austin Brown

CRISPY SEA SALT QUAIL with Roasted Red pepper aioli

For the Aioli

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 cups of oil (use a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed)
  • 1 cup of ice water
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 smashed garlic clove

Over an open flame, roast the peppers until black on all sides. Place them in a Ziploc bag for about ten minutes to steam. Remove from back and peel off burn skin, and remove seeds.

In a blender combine egg yolks, peppers, 2 tablespoons of water and the garlic clove. Blend until smooth. slowly add the oil in a fine stream until a thin mayonnaise consistency is reached. More or less of the oil can be used. Once thickened, season with salt and pepper.

For the Quail

  • 20 quail legs skin on
  • 5 cups of flour
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Cilantro bunch( optional)
  • 1 quart of canola oil
  • Heavily season the flour with salt and pepper.

Wash quail to remove any leftover feathers. Pat dry with a paper towel and toss in flour to coat.

Over medium heat, heat about a 3/8 of an inch of canola oil in the bottom of a cast iron skillet.

Fry the legs turning only once to a golden brown. Be sure to not over crowd the pan, the name of the game is cooking these guys over really high heat so they are still juicy on the inside.

The hotter the oil, the crispier they turn out. Once finished place quail on a paper towel to soak up any remaining oil and season again with sea salt and cracked pepper

Serve with the red pepper aioli and garnish with cilantro.


Hunting and New World Independence

Thursday, November 26th, 2015
Back in Time for Thanksgiving, image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

This is Passport to Texas

This week we commemorate the first Thanksgiving. While our turkeys come from the store, Pilgrims hunted for theirs. Did you know that prior to the Pilgrim’s arrival in 1620 few of them had ever hunted wild game?

10—The first people to come over wouldn’t have been able to hunt [in England] because the land was owned by the rich and that’s where you hunted. So, when they came to America and were able to hunt anywhere, it was actually a real expression of their new lives.

Simon Majumdar is a hunter, food writer and judge on Food Network TV competitions. He says along with being deeply rooted in the American identity, hunting puts good food on the table.

13—I’m a great believer if you hunt for food that you’re going to eat some really amazing dishes. I mean, I’ve hunted many times in the UK: deer, wild birds…rabbit. I do a lot of rabbit hunting in the United Kingdom. And I think the food often just tastes better.

Plus, he says, you know its origins. Simon Majumdar, author of Fed, White and Blue: Finding America with My Fork says despite our long history with hunting and eating wild game, some Americans remain reticent.

10—I always blame Walt Disney. Walt Disney has a lot to answer for because everyone thinks of like Bambi and Thumper. And they’re really just sources of food. So, I’m very unsentimental with it.

Be sentimental when giving thanks this season, and pass the turkey.

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

Putting “English” on Hunting in America

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
Simon Majumdar enjoying a kabob. Image courtesy

Simon Majumdar. Image courtesy

This is Passport to Texas

Simon Majumdar is an author, food writer, and judge on Food Network TV cooking competitions. This British born food lover also hunts and eats wild game.

12—I love hunting. And hunting really speaks to the American identity, because without the first Pilgrims coming here and being taught how to hunt by the Native Americans, the Wampanoags, America wouldn’t exist.

Based on personal invitations, Majumdar traveled the US exploring regional food traditions for his latest book Fed, White and Blue: Finding America with My Fork.

11—I did actually do a little bit of hunting in Mississippi; I went out into the delta, and it was dove hunting season. We did some wild hog hunting. We didn’t catch much. I say, no animals were harmed during the making of my book.

For Majumdar, hunting is about putting meat on the table.

14—I would never go hunting just for sport. But if it’s to put food on the table… And actually, during the economic downturn, I have friends all over the country who used hunting to fill their families stomachs. And again, that proves it is part of the American identity.

I asked Food Network TV’s Simon Majumdar if he would ever hunt in Texas.

09—Well, I go wherever I’m invited. So, if people invite me, then I’ll go. I’m not claiming to be any good. But I’m safe. And I love doing it. I love the companionship of hunting.

Simon Majumdar is great company in the field and in the kitchen.

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

Evin Cooper’s Cottontail Carnitas

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
Evin Cooper's Cottontail Carnitas.

Evin Cooper’s Cottontail Carnitas.

This is Passport to Texas

In 1980, when word spread that author and celebrity chef, Julia Child, planned to prepare rabbit and leek pie on her PBS TV series, the public protested. Their reaction has since been termed: Easter Bunny Syndrome…it’s when we decide which animals not to eat based on their perceived cuteness.

As 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.

45—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

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

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.

City Girl Learns to Cook and Love Game

Monday, November 23rd, 2015
Evin's son, Tristan, with cottontail he harvested.

Evin’s son, Tristan, with cottontail he harvested.

This is Passport to Texas

Evin Cooper is a writer, cook and mom. She’s a city girl who shares her life with Steven—a country boy who hunts. Their family eats what Steven brings home.

07—I had to learn to deal with it. I had to figure out how to cook all the random stuff that he brought home.

To Evin, meat had always come wrapped in plastic from the market. That changed when Steven challenged her perceptions about meat and her culinary skills with an unusual wild protein.

27—He brought me a raccoon. And, he’s like figure out how to cook it. So, I Googled, and read to soak it in milk for a day before you cook it. So, I soaked it in milk overnight. And then I opened the fridge, and I looked at it and I was like: ‘Ah, one more night will do it good.’ I soaked in milk for more night. And then I thought a third night would be great. I soaked it for so long it went bad.

Do you think that might have been a subconscious thing of not really wanting to eat a raccoon?

I don’t even think it was subconscious. I think it was entirely conscious.

Since then, Evin has consciously and happily prepared a wide variety of wild game, including cottontails.

05—Cottontail’s a very lean meat. And you have to cook it for a long time to really get the best quality out of it.

Tomorrow: Evin Cooper shares her simple and delicious recipe for cottontail carnitas.

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.