Archive for the 'Food' Category

Harvested Game from Field to Kitchen

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Lee Smith in the kitchen preparing venison backstrap

This is Passport to Texas

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

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 in the freezer. And when you’re ready for it, Smith says – simple preparations are best.

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.

Proper Field Dressing for Great Tasting Game

Monday, November 5th, 2018
Field dressing deer

Field dressing deer

This is Passport to Texas

It’s deer season in Texas, and harvesting the animal is just the beginning.

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

That’s longtime hunter and accomplished home cook, Lee Smith. Field dressing, which involves removing the animal’s internal organs, is a race against the clock.

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, once you’ve field dressed and skinned your animal, quarter it.

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.

Out show receives support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve.

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

Northward Migration of White-winged Dove

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
White-winged dove.

White-winged dove.

This is Passport to Texas

At the turn of the last century, white winged dove populations in Texas were robust. Found mostly in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, their numbers declined as agriculture took root there.

They [farmers] took out a lot of native habitat—your brush and shrub species that are native to South Texas. That’s where the birds bred and roosted, so they required that habitat. A lot of that was wiped out for agriculture. So, through the 20s and 30s and 40s, we saw a big decline in the white-wing population in Texas.

Citrus dominated the landscape. Owen Fitzsimmons is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader. As citrus groves matured, the doves rebounded.

They like open areas with large mature stands of trees—and citrus groves were perfect for that. So white-winged doves quickly colonized those citrus groves.

Hard freezes in the 40s & 50s, and again in the 80s devastated the citrus groves, and also the doves.

So, the white-winged dove population fluctuated up and down through the middle of the century.

In the 80s, urban expansion moved northward along the I-35 corridor and white-winged doves followed.

They’re found throughout Texas, now. They’re found all the way up into Oklahoma. They’re breeding in Kansas and Missouri. Northward expansion is unlimited at this point.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds research on White-winged Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest.

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

Dining on Dove Carnitas

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Dove Carnitas a la Killer Chefs. Photo: Jesse Morris.

This is Passport to Texas

With dove season underway in the north and central zones, bacon wrapped dove breasts will soon show up on the tables of hunters everywhere.

People don’t really like eating doves, they like eating bacon, if that’s the only way that they cook it.

Jesse Morris is a hunter and chef with Killer Chefs in Richardson, Texas. He says there are more inventive ways to enjoy dove—including carnitas.

Everybody’s go-to recipe—and there’s nothing wrong with it – is bacon wrapped dove. It’s nice to actually use all the bird. So, you can use the heart in the carnitas, and the legs, and the breast meat, and everything. Cooking that down low and slow; finishing it off, letting all the sugars come out in the product. It’s something good.

If you’re a new hunter and longtime foodie, you may be tempted to “go gourmet” when preparing dove or any game. Jesse recommends to start simply.

People get off on wanting to cover them in sauces or gravy, and things like that – when they’re really not tasting the bird, or whatever game that it is that they’re eating. When you’re first starting out cooking wild game, cook it simply: grill it; salt and pepper. See what the flavors that the actual game is, and then work with that.

We have Jesse Morris’ dove carnitas recipe [below] at Passport to Texas dot com.

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

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Dove Carnitas Recipe
Jesse Morris, www.killerchefs.com

One of my all-time favorites and go to recipe is carnitas. They are flavorful and easy to cook. My version of the recipe is not totally traditional. I like to lighten it up and use things that I can find around me in the late August early September months. If you don’t like the idea of using real sugar cokes, then don’t use it.  You may substitute piloncillo, an unrefined sugar, and water.

Ingredients

1 pound salt pork, large cubed

Pig skin or pig ears, you may use the skin from the salt pork

1 white onion, rough chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 pound block of lard

10 dove plucked and cleaned doves quartered and hearts (trust me)

1 bunch fresh thyme, whole

1 bunch fresh oregano, whole

2 sticks Mexican cinnamon

1 Meyer lemon (or small orange), peeled, rind and juice

3 Mexican real sugar cokes

Instructions

In a deep, heavy bottom pan or Dutch oven brown the salt pork.

Add onions and garlic to pan and sauté for a few minutes.

Then add lard and allow it to melt and begin to slightly fry ingredients in pan.

Next add dove and remainder of the ingredients and simmer for about an hour on medium/high heat until meat is tender and the cloudy look of the coke and lard turns semi clear.

Pick all the meat and some of the lemon peel out. Pull apart the meat to prep for serving.

Finish off on flat top or cast iron pan till caramelized.

I prefer to garnish with charred jalapeno, chimichurri and a slice of lime or Meyer lemon.

The Hunt for Flavor

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018
Jesse Morris of Killer Chefs.

Jesse Morris of Killer Chefs.

This is Passport to Texas

Jesse Morris is a hunter and professional chef; he traded his chef’s jacket for a new career that allows him to spend more time with his family.

I felt that I needed to have a creative outlet to continue food. Two of my greatest passions were food and hunting, so I decided what better way to celebrate what I was doing than to put those together; and that’s how Killer Chefs was born.

He shares these passions through the Killer Chefs website. Dove season is underway in the north and central zones, and Jesse says: don’t expect this bird to taste like chicken.

When people think about wild game, the thought in their head is it tastes “livery”. That’s the word that they use. It has a flavor to it. But, what will give it that “off taste” is not handling it properly.

Dove has a pleasing flavor, but because it’s delicate, it needs proper handling to ensure full enjoyment.

The very first thing in terms of food that you really want to think about, especially it being as hot as it is, is getting that animal cooled down. I always put the birds in a cooler right after they’re shot. Getting that body temperature cooled down as quickly as possible – that’s the most important thing.

That one act alone can mean the difference between delicious and disaster. Tomorrow: beyond bacon wrapped dove breasts.

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