The final chapter of the “venison scrap transformation” story proved to include a bit of a plot twist. I wanted to make a fresh sausage with jerk spices and wanted to mimic the flavors of oxtail stew in a sausage. My flaw here was in the conception phase as it may not be possible to get the flavors developed by stewing a cut rich in collagen for hours in stock, aromatics and chili into sausages cooked for mere minutes. On the flip side, what sprung from this attempt was a sausage which was both unique and delicious. It was not an encased form of the Caribbean dish, but it proved to provide insights on the benefits of tasty mistakes. Continue reading
In round two of turning venison scrap from my father into something more edible, I made a dangerous choice – a sausage of great familiarity. Summer Sausage. It is easy to cook without context when the only question is “Does it taste good?” I guess easy is relative, because it seems easy in comparison to when you are cooking something familiar and add “Does it taste right?” to “Does it taste good?” Venison summer sausage is, when combined with Ritz crackers and cheese, the most popular pre-dinner, post-lunch food in Wisconsin. When given venison scrap, how could i have ignored the opportunity to stock the pre-dinner, post-lunch larder for the year, or more likely, the remainder of April?
Every now and again I get venison from my father. He is generous with the venison he hunts with his cousins and while the hunting aspects have never taken with me, I have become comfortable cooking venison. As I have grown more comfortable preparing venison in different ways, I have tried to repay his generosity with giving some of the venison back, in the form of sausage, ham, etc. After cleaning out his freezer, he found nearly eight pounds of venison scrap and asked if I could do something new with it that he might like. Continue reading
With the weather growing colder in the fall, a feature of our new home finally took shape. I would no longer need a curing fridge. I had a garage that, while slightly colder in the deep winter months, could safely cure and dry meats. On the first weekend where temps dropped into the 50s, I grabbed a freezer bag of venison and a package of bacon and go to it. Continue reading
There are so many beautiful books released this fall that I can not afford to buy even half of those I would like to have. The ones I have purchased are lovely, but sometimes the old ugly books, the ones released over thirty years ago remind us of that delicious food is not a recent trend and that snout to tail cooking was not invented in 2005. Continue reading
For the past three Novembers, I have been bugging my father to get me a full deer to butcher. Oddly, we used to butcher deer together when I was a kid each year, but then it was him both butchering and “butchering” the deer – no care taken to cut the deer into primals – just similarly sized scraps. With the promise of giving him his choice to meats, I asked just to get a whole animal to butcher. Well, not just the butchering opportunity, I wanted a leg. I wanted to make venison ham. This year, I got a leg and I made a ham. Continue reading
Shocking to most who know how close I am with my family, I have never spent Thanksgiving with my father. While we now switch back and forth between my family and L’s Oklahoma/Texas clan, my family’s Thanksgiving is an epic holiday with over 50 guests, a few state fair winning turkeys, and an amount of sweet potatoes that would floor most of the general public, but my dad, who has been married to my mother for nearly forty years has never attended. He is a hunter and the short season in Wisconsin spans over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Continue reading
When my parents came down to watch me run a marathon in the beginning of October, my dad brought a bag labeled “venison scrap”. When he handed it to me, he said, “I figured if anyone knew what to do with this, you would.” I was half proud and half horrified, but information that I had in my back pocket made me hopeful. The cuts valued by the people cutting the meat (my father and his cousins) are vastly different than the cuts I love, so chances were good I would get some incredibly flavorful wild venison. Continue reading
Romance and offal go together like peanut butter and jelly. With Valentine’s Day coming up in a few weeks, I thought that some of you looking for ideas for what to make for the Hallmark Holiday would appreciate this ode to the heart (ha!) that captures the essence of why you should make heart a regular in your dinner rotation.
Over the holidays I made some pickled heart that was a sentimental choice, if a bit off-putting for those who do not already love offal. It was cold and cooked to death. This dish is the opposite with very little funk, taken medium rare, and served in unrecognizable chunks on a skewer – truly the gateway offal. There is no shame in that because we found it to be damned delicious, plain and simple.
Anticuchos are a South American street food made from skewered meat, most traditionally beef heart, marinated, and grilled. There are a few places serving them in Chicago, but none have hit a home run for me as they are cooked past medium rare, which for me is too far for heart. Continue reading
It is playoff time again. I am not going to say too much about it because I am superstitious, but the Packers are my team and they play today. Last year, the playoff charcuterie of choice was a Wisconsin classic – and a year-end top 3 dish – Braunschweiger made by the Butcher & Larder. I understand this year’s version is in the works, but the Packers game won’t wait, so I took matters into my own hands.
I did not venture into Braunschweiger territory, maybe next week, if applicable, but I did make a batch of kielbasa, another Sconnie classic, and took it one Sconnie level higher by making the sausage from some Wisconsin wild venison harvested by my Sconnie father. In the North Central parts of Wisconsin where my father grew up and still hunts, the late fall butcher offerings nearly always include Northeastern European sausages made from venison scraps acquired by butchering the local deer shot during the two-week hunting season. Kielbasa is an Eastern European sausage usually hailing from Poland or the Ukraine. It is typically smoked and made from beef and pork with heavy garlic flavors. Kielbasa with kraut and potatoes is a popular Sconnie dish in supper clubs and on family tables. Venison kielbasa certainly would not be out of place in the butcher cases in towns like Willard, Marshfield, or Abbotsford. Continue reading