Archive for November, 2013

Hunting/Food/Heritage: Wild Game/Mexican Food

Friday, November 29th, 2013
Cocina y Comparte  © Fotógrafo Federico Gil para el Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana

Cocina y Comparte © Fotógrafo Federico Gil para el Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana

This is Passport to Texas

Before domestication of livestock, wild game was the primary protein for humans on both sides of what is now the Mexican border. In Mexico, venison was of particular importance.

15—Venison is especially important in a ritual sense as well as a culinary sense.

Karen Hursh Graber is senior Food Editor of the internet magazine Mexico Connect.

17—The word ‘venison’ in English, and the word ‘venado’ in Spanish – are both from the Latin word ‘venari’, which is the verb ‘to hunt.’ So, that’s pretty impressive that the word for deer is the same as the word for hunt. It just shows the symbolic hunting imagery of deer in both cultures.

Mexicans, unlike Americans, are more sparing in their use of venison – and all meat wild and domestic – in their recipes: such as Salpicon De Venado.

16—Instead of serving a huge hunk of meat, they’ll serve small pieces, and put it in a taco or in a stew. Salpicon is like a cold meat salad – it’s a venison salad. It’s dressed with herbs and spices and they serve it is tacos.

Find Karen Hursh Graber’s recipe for Cold Venison Salad at

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

Shredded Venison Salad: Salpicon De Venado
by Karen Hursh Graber © 2005

This dish is found on restaurant menus throughout Mexico, but particularly in the western part of the country and in the Yucatan, where it is called zic de venado. This recipe is a good buffet dish, to be piled on tostadas or served with warm tortillas and habanero salsa. It makes an attractive presentation served on a bed of mesclun greens. Following are two variations on the traditional recipe, one savory and one sweet-and-hot.


  • 2 pounds venison, cooked and shredded (venison is lean and shreds nicely, like flank or skirt steak)
  • juice of 4 bitter (Seville) oranges or use half sweet oranges and half limes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped radishes
  • salt to taste


Place the venison in a non-reactive bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients and let them rest for 15 minutes to combine the flavors. Add the mixture to the venison and serve immediately or refrigerate and bring to room temperature at serving time.

Serves 8-10 as part of a multi-course buffet or as an appetizer.

Variation I:

Omit the radishes and add ½ cup chopped green olives and 1 firm-ripe avocado, diced.

Variation II

Omit the radishes and add 1 green mango, diced, 1 diced plantain and 2 (or more, to taste) Serrano chiles, seeded and diced.

Hunting/Food: Hunters for the Hungry

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Ground venison Hunters for the Hungry Program

Ground venison Hunters for the Hungry Program

This is Passport to Texas

Venison is quality protein; and hunters help get it onto the tables of deserving families when they donate deer to Hunters for the Hungry.

09—Once it’s [the deer] donated, the meat is used by food pantries, food banks, and other food assistance providers, which serve their local communities.

Anitra Hendricks oversees the program. Hunters may donate their legally tagged, field-dressed deer by bringing it to participating meat processors. Find a list of processors on the Hunters for the Hungry website.

24—Once they locate a processor, then basically it’s just a matter of harvesting the deer, making sure that they get it cleaned out. The processor will handle everything else. There is a reduced processing fee for those who donate to the program. They pay the fee, they do receive a receipt for a possible tax deduction. The meat processor will grind the meat, package it, and then from there it goes to the food assistance provider

The Panhandle, far west Texas and the Rio Grande Valley have the fewest donations due to low processor participation. Without nearby participating processors, hunters don’t have an easy way to donate. Anitra is always on the lookout for more processors.

08— The have to be willing to keep some minimal book-keeping as far as tracking donations and reporting that to us at the end of the season.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish restoration program supports our series … For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Hunting/Food: Proper Handling of Game

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Cuts of venison, image from

Cuts of venison, image from

This is Passport to Texas

When handled correctly in the field and kitchen, venison can be tastier than domestically raised meat. The key is to keep it cool and dry immediately after harvest.

15—And then, the real poetry begins in the aging of that meat. If you can hang that meat for three to six days, some of the enzymes in the meat start to break it down, and you really get that tender, good tasting, concentrated flavor.

Lee Smith is a hunter and home cook from Austin, Texas. To store fresh venison, Smith recommends vacuum sealers, which keep meat usable for up to a year when frozen. And when you’re ready for it, Smith says – simple preparations are best.

23—You’re legally – depending upon what county you’re hunting in – able to take five deer in Texas. And that can be a lot of meat. So, I can understand after a while, how you might want to change it up and have a little horseradish sauce, or some kind of port reduction with some mushrooms. But, I want to taste the meat; I don’t want to throw a heavy sauce on it. In fact, tonight, we’re having venison fajitas.

Lee Smith says he usually marinates venison back strap briefly in olive oil and soy sauce, grills it, and ends up with something the whole family enjoys.

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

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

Hunting/Food: Field Dressing Harvested Game

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Preparing to field dress a deer.

Preparing to field dress a deer.

This is Passport to Texas

Lee Smith started hunting when he was 7 years old. Now in his mid-fifties, this Austin resident and home cook, says he hunts for meat not trophies.

06—Once you’ve pulled the trigger and you’ve got an animal down, the work really begins.

Field dressing, which involves removing the animal’s internal organs, can be a race against the clock—due to spoilage—says Smith.

24—Meat spoils due to three things: heat, moisture and dirt. Getting those internal organs out is going to immediately start to let that carcass cool. Second thing is: the skin. Taking that skin off is going to get that animal cooler, and also allow it to dry quicker. Once you’ve got it back [to camp], and taken the skin off, you rinse out the interior chest cavity, and get it into that cooler.

If you’re hunting on public land, or there isn’t a walk-in cooler at your lease, after field dressing and skinning the animal, quarter it.

13—That’s taking off the four quarters, the two backstraps, and the rear legs. That’s what you are legally bound to take. If you don’t take that, you can be ticketed for waste of game.

Put the quarters into tall kitchen garbage bags, and then into coolers with ice. How to handle game at home – that’s tomorrow.

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

Food: Outdoor Cooking

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Old time campfire cooking in Texas.

Old time campfire cooking in Texas.

This is Passport to Texas

Maybe you’ve thought about preparing Thanksgiving dinner at a state park. Outdoor cooking enthusiast, and boater education coordinator, Tim Spice has some suggestions.

67— I would pick a part that has a picnic table, fire pit, it may have a grill; so all you have to do is bring your fuel. So all those things are there ready for you. Then the other thing I would do is pick your favorite menu items – simple to prepare. You don’t want to do anything fancy, because that take a lot of work. Remember – the reason we’re going outdoors is to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family. And then, I like to prepare before I leave the house. Do all your measurements for your meal – whatever it is, measure it out, put it in a zip lock bag, and then put it in a nice ice chest so you’ve got it prepared by meal. Then, when you show up, you’ve got it all measured. All you do is throw it in the pot, mix it together and start cooking. And so, what are some of the vessels you use to cook in and with? For me, I love Dutch ovens. Dutch ovens can do anything your oven can do and anything a stew pot can do. But, if you want to go with the family and plan a little hike in the afternoon, Dutch oven would be the great way to go, whether it be a turkey – and they do make Dutch ovens big enough for a turkey – or a whole chicken, you can put that all in a one pot meal. Put it on the fire; and as you’re doing your little hike you come back and it’s ready to go.

Thanks, Tim.

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