Archive for November, 2014

Hunt | Food: Cook Venison Low and Slow

Friday, November 28th, 2014
Chef Lou Lambert in the field with colleague.

Chef Lou Lambert in the field with colleague.

This is Passport to Texas

Even if you hunt for trophies, there’s some good eating attached to those antlers.

Cooking venison can be intimidating, but Chef Lou Lambert, author of the Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook, is here to help.

60— I grew up hunting and fishing and still do today. But I think most of the lessons I learned about cooking game were more failures than things that worked out well when my mother was cooking. Because I had two brothers, father – we all hunted. So, we always had quail, dove, ducks and deer. And I remember my mother struggling to cook deer, because (and the biggest mistake she made) was not realizing because game is, if you will, grass-fed, all-natural – it does not have the fat content. And, because it is more in motion – the muscles tend to be a little bit tighter, which means tougher. So, lack of fat and more movement tells you that you have to do a slow, moist heat cooking method, unless you have it ground into sausage, or pounded for chicken fried [steaks], most of that deer – 80% — you need to either do a braise or a very slow barbeque smoke method.

Harvesting your own great tasting, sustainable protein is the best reason to hunt. Learn more on the TPW website, and find tasty wild game recipes while you’re there.

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

Hunt | Food | Culture: Game in Mexican Cuisine

Thursday, November 27th, 2014
Grilling venison loin.

Grilling venison loin.

This is Passport to Texas

Before domestication of livestock, wild game was the primary protein for humans on both side 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, what’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.

Unlike Americans, Hursh-Graber says Mexicans are more sparing in their use of venison – and all meat – in 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 a new way to prepare the venison you harvest this season.

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 (glass or plastic). 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.

Hunt | Food: Cheffing it up with Jack Gilmore

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Not boar, but another wild game treat: Marinated, grilled venison loin from one of the Central Market Wild Game Cooking Classes; photo by Cecilia Nasti

Not boar, but another wild game treat: Marinated, grilled venison loin from one of the Central Market Wild Game Cooking Classes; photo by Cecilia Nasti

This is Passport to Texas

Hunters call them feral pigs. Chefs call them wild boars. Names don’t matter as long as the end result is delicious.

03—We use wild boar for a lot of chilis and things like that.

Feral pigs cause millions of dollars in damage to cropland in Texas, and destroy wildlife habitat, too. Hunting and eating these animals can help control their populations.

Chef and restaurateur, Jack Allen Gilmore, serves game at his namesake restaurants in Austin and Round Rock, and says cooking wild boar offers challenges and rewards.

29—You really can’t write a recipe for it, because each time it’s different because it’s wild. It might be a little gamier, or a little fatty – or it may not have enough fat in it. You really have to be a chef again and say: ‘Well, if it doesn’t have enough fat in it, we could add bacon to it. If it has too much fat in it, we have to render it.’ You never know what a wild boar eats. You just don’t know. But, if they’re raised in the Hill Country, you know they’re eating persimmons; you know they’re eating acorns; you know they’re eating pretty good. But, sometimes you just have to realize what you’ve got and make it taste good.

When you are a hunter you can harvest your own organic, sustainable meat. Learn more about hunting in Texas on Texas Parks and Wildlife website; and check out our wild game recipes, too.

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.

Fishing | Food: Fresh Caught Fish is Best

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
Freshly caught Black Drum, photo by Cecilia Nasti

Freshly caught Black Drum, photo by Cecilia Nasti

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

When you get tired of turkey leftovers, maybe you can find a fishing hole and reel in something tasty during your Thanksgiving break. Chef Cindy Haenel says there’s nothing like catching your own dinner.

09—It’s fabulous. I know exactly how old that fish is, when it came out of the water and how long it’s been dead. And that’s important with fish especially. Fresh is always best.

Cindy is a chef instructor at Central Market in Austin. She and her husband Ken are avid anglers.

08—I love the saltwater as well as freshwater. But the saltwater you have more variety. You never know what you’re going to pull up. It’s exciting – like Christmas morning.

Immediately put your catch on ice, and if there’s a cleaning station on shore, consider doing the dirty work there. Chef Cindy says be careful not to overcook your fresh fish.

22—Most people, if they don’t like the taste of fish, it’s probably because they’ve overcooked it. And, as it cooks, and the oil of the fish starts to come out of the flesh, it burns very, very quickly. So, if you will undercook your fish, or protect that fish with either a salt crust, or even if it just has a little butter, or some kind of fat on the outside it still protecting that fish while it’s cooking.

Find game and fish recipes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. And, we invite you to follow us on Twitter; we’re @passporttotexas.

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

Hunt |Food: Christopher Kimball on Wild Game

Monday, November 24th, 2014
America's Test Kitchen's Christopher Kimball

America’s Test Kitchen’s Christopher Kimball

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

Christopher Kimball, host of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country on PBS TV, is a hunter in his home state of Vermont. But don’t expect to see much wild game cookery on his shows.

18—Years ago, I had a photograph of me holding up two or three rabbits that I had shot – because I do a lot of rabbit hunting in the winter. America Public Television distributes our show, and I think they sent out a warning indicating the stations may want to gray out that particular photograph. So, most people are not prepared for that, probably.

Some people are prepared, though – and ready to become hunters.

04—You see more women hunting now than you did. And, I think in certain parts of the country there’s more of it.

Kimball says if you plan to cook game, you must know the optimal cooking methods for each type of meat.

32—The tough, dark meat you braise slowly – like the back legs of the rabbit. But, the very lean tenderloin – or backstrap – that gets cooked in about five minutes. Some of that meat you can barely cook – like the tenderloin of a deer. You don’t want to cook it much over medium rare. But, if you have other cuts of meat that are tougher and really need a long, slow cooking – you really have to think about the cuts that way, because game meat isn’t fatty. And actually, that’s why they larded it. And I’ve done it – larded venison –because it needed the fat. It’s not like a 300 pound pig that’s got a lot of fat in it.

Learn to become a hunter in Texas, and find game recipes, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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