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Spice Up Your Cooking with Some Wild Holiday Dishes

If man were fish, it would be considered a “feeding frenzy.”

We launched into this season of great food indulgence about a month ago, and we are working our way towards the serious stretch. We have managed to graze our way through Thanksgiving and have finally gobbled up all the turkey dinner leftovers. Now we’re getting ready for the main event…the Christmas holidays.

We start with office parties, open houses, holiday parties, and eat right up to Christmas dinner itself. It doesn’t end there. Good food continues through the New Year’s celebrations, football feasts, and the ultimate Superbowl parties.

If you are on the hosting end of some of these holiday food get-togethers, go a little “wild” with your cooking. Any outdoor sportsman will tell you that wild game provides some of the finest eating in the world. If you like to hunt wild game or if you are often given the task of cooking the bounty of the sportsman’s outings as many of us are, it can be an adventure in great cooking … and great eating.

Long before big flocks of wild turkey were discovered roaming the New World, the wild goose was the standard fare for the European holiday table.

There is nothing mysterious or complicated about cooking wild game. The challenge is to choose the cooking methods and seasonings that compliment the natural flavor of the meat.

No matter how good the recipe or how careful the cook; the result is only as good as the care and the quality of the wild game. Animals and birds that are in good physical shape and have eaten high quality food will have better flavor and texture. The age and size of game also affect the taste. Proper care of animals and game birds is important in the field as well as after you get them home.

It is important to handle game carefully from the moment you take it. Game and fowl should be field dressed as soon as possible. Keep the carcasses cool and covered until proper refrigeration or freezing is possible. The temperature of the air determines how long the meat will stay fresh in the field. If the air temperature is 50o F or below, fowl and small game will keep safely for up to 48 hours. An animal taken on a warm day may spoil in a few hours.

Final cleaning is usually done at home. Skin the hide or pluck the feathers, and remove shot or splintered bone. Cleaned game can be cooked at once, stored in the refrigerator for one or two days, or frozen in heavy duty aluminum wrap or freezer paper. Game should be defrosted slowly in the refrigerator. To speed defrosting, you can use a microwave oven. However, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Never defrost by soaking in water. Keep game covered during defrosting to retain the moisture.

When cooking game, consider the fat content and the age of the animal. Slow, moist cooking methods such as stewing, covered roasting or braising in liquids are best for older, leaner, or less tender game. Use butter, bacon, or liquids in cooking lean game such as venison, elk, or moose. Broiling, oven pan roasting, grilling, or other dry heat methods are best for young, fat or tender game. Wild waterfowl such as ducks and geese have less fat than the domestic verities. They are usually stuffed with vegetables or fruit to enhance their flavor. For gravy, skim off the grease and use the flavorful juices. Proper care and cooking will make your game moist, tender, and very flavorful.

Don’t be intimidated by cooking wild game or wild birds during the big holiday dining season, Follow a few simple, basic rules, and you will leave your guests impressed over your game and bird dishes.
Try some of the following choice recipes for the flavor of some “wild” holiday cooking.

BEER-BRAISED VENISON ROAST

2 1/2-pcund boneless venison roast
2 coves garlic, cut in slivers
1 bottle (7 oz.) beer
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon
2 ounces salt pork
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 large onions, quartered
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper

Cut small slits in top of roast; insert garlic slivers. For marinade, combine beer, tomato sauce and bouillon in glass bowl. Add roast. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours, turning once. Line 13” x 9” x 2-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum wrap leaving 1 1/2-inch foil collar. Place roast in pan; reserve marinade. Cut salt pork into 6 strips, 4” x 1/2” x 1/4 – inch each. Roll in parsley; crisscross on top of roast. Bake in 450 F oven 15 minutes. Set oven to 325 degrees. Add vegetables to roast. Dissolve flour in marinade; pour over roast and vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Insert meat thermometer through foil into thickest part or roast. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer, or until thermometer registers 180 F. Makes 6 servings.

HEARTY VENISON STEW

1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 pounds venison stew meat, cut in cubes
1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes, cut up
1 large onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 green pepper, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 cups diagonally sliced carrots

Preheat oven to 325 F. Shake flour in large size (14” x 20”) oven cooking bag. Place in a 13” x 9” X 2-inch baking pan. Add salt, dry mustard, chili powder, pepper, chili sauce, vinegar, honey and Worcestershire sauce. Turn to mix. Add venison, tomatoes, onion, green pepper and carrots. Turn bag to mix and close bag with nylon tie. Make 6 half-inch slits in top. Cook 2 1/2 hours or until venison is fork tender. Makes 8 cups.

SAVORY ROAST GOOSE WITH APPLE

1 tablespoon flour
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 pound wild goose
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sage
l apple, quartered
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon butter, softened
Celery seed
1/3 cup currant jelly
Flour

Preheat oven to 325 F. Shake flour in large size (14” x 20”) oven cooking bag. Place in large 2-inch deep roasting pan. Add apple juice, apple and chopped onion to bag. Turn bag to mix. Sprinkle goose cavity with salt, pepper and sage. Add apple and onion quarters. Close cavity with skewers; tie legs together. Spread butter over breast; sprinkle with salt, pepper and celery seed. Spread jelly over breast. Carefully place goose in bag; close with nylon tie. Make 6 half-inch slits in top. Cook 2 1/2 hours or until tender. Skim fat from broth in bag. In saucepan, use 2 tablespoons flour for each cup of broth. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Serve over goose. Makes 6 servings.

OVEN-FRIED QUAIL

6 quail
1/2 cup herb stuffing mix, crushed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 13’ x 9’ x 2- inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum wrap. Split quail down back and flatten. Combine stuffing mix, cheese and onion. Dip quail in melted butter; coat with stuffing mixture. Place in pan. Bake 30 minutes for small quail, 35 to 40 minutes for large quail, or until meat can be removed easily from bone. Serve immediately. Garnish with onion curls. Makes 3 servings.

SAUCY DOVE IREASTS WITH CONFETTI RICE

1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 dove breasts, skin removed
3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup water
1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas and carrots, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Preheat oven to 325 F. Shake flour, salt, basil and pepper in regular size (10” x 16”) oven cooking bag. Shake dove breasts, one at a time, in flour mixture to coat evenly. Remove and set aside. Place bag with remaining flour mixture in 12” x 8” x 2-inch baking dish. Add mushrooms, onion, water, bouillon and Worcestershire sauce to bag; turn to mix. Set aside. Sauté dove breasts in butter until golden brown. Place on top of vegetables in bag. Close bag with nylon tie. Make 6 half-inch slits in top. Cook 45 to 50 minutes or until meat tests done. Combine hot cooked rice, peas and carrots. Press into small bowl. Unmold on serving platter. Place dove breasts around rice. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

CRAN-ORANGE WILD DUCK

2 pound wild duck, split in half
3 Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place regular size (10”x16’) oven cooking bag in 13” x 9” x 2-inch baking dish, Sprinkle duck with salt arid pepper. Sauté in butter until lightly browned. Place duck in bag. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder, orange peel, orange juice and honey; stir in cranberries. Spoon sauce over duck. Close bag with nylon tie; make 6 half-inch slits in top. Insert meat thermometer through slit in bag into thickest part of duck. Cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer registers 180 F. Serve sauce over duck. Garnish with orange slices and cranberries. Makes 2 to 3 servings.