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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Wild Thing

Wild Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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Now, you need to know that the sandwiches are not wild, the pork is. The pork is not pulled in a wild way, either. Unless you particularly feel like it. Of course, you probably could make these from grocery store pork, but why would you? Wild pork has all the flavor, a little less fat, none of the added antibiotics, hormones, or artificial colors. The thrill of eating meat that you’ve harvested yourself can’t be beat.
This recipe is very easy to prepare for a camping trip (or at home) because the meat is roasted up ahead of time. Basically, you just have to pack

1 to 1 1/2 pounds roasted pork*
about 1/2 cup beef or pork stock as needed
1 cup of bar-b-que sauce of choice (I used Skipkenny Whiskey BBQ Sauce) plus more for pouring
Hamburger Buns
about 2 tbsp. Butter
Hamburger Dills
Onion slices
*Check out my recipe for preparing slow roasted wild meats in my entry “Come and Take It”

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Shred slow roasted meat into a skillet. Add a small amount of stock and enough Bar-B-Que sauce to coat. I used Skipkenny Whiskey BBQ Sauce.
I discovered this amazing sauce at the Farmers’ Market in San Antonio. The company is actually based out of New Braunfels, TX. You can reach Skipkenny BBQ at 830-214-5722 or e-mail at skipkennybbq@yahoo.com. The flavor of the sauce that I purchased really pops and enhances the the flavor of the meat. It got thumbs up from every member of my deerslayer family. There are so many BBQ sauces on the market, it’s not often that one really stands out. This one, however, is my new favorite! Since I don’t live in New Braunfels, I’ll be ordering a case to fill my all my BBQ needs.

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Allow the liquid to reduce slightly. Meanwhile, liberally butter a cast iron griddle and toast the hamburger buns.

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Serve up this super easy meal with hamburger dills and onion slices. Offer potato salad and beans as a side. You’ll be held in high esteem by your camping family.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

How to be the Queen of the Hunting Camp

(Percolated Coffee)

Things just aren’t the same as they used to be. In the old Westerns, the beautiful leading lady would ride up on a horse, her make-up fully intact, hair perfect. She’d slide off the side of said horse into the arms of John Wayne. He’d grasp her 18 inch waist and whisk her off to the camp site where she’d roll her own cigarette and make a pot of percolated coffee on the fire. Wow! Hold the phone! Everything else was lost on me. Percolated coffee? How the hell did she do that? Where did she plug that thing in? Surely camera magic was in play! Women used to be so amazing! (Sure, before I start getting hate mail, I know we’re still pretty damned amazing. We do more than percolate coffee. But you have to admit that there was something about those women…)
After years of apologizing in advance every time I arrived at any campsite for my embarrassing lack of knowledge of all things campy, I decided to take the bull by the …uh… horns, Master the campsite. Yes, I decided to become the “Queen of the Hunting Camp”.
The 18 inch waist was there (plus enough to make a few more leading ladies). I could master the make-up and a cute cowgirl hat covers a multitude of sins. I don’t smoke and rolling your own really leans toward the 70’s. Don’t want to give away my age.
However, I learned that any camp-goers will cheer and make a queen of anyone who will produce coffee in the morning! If that coffee is percolated, heads will reel, people will fall to their knees in awe and praise, everyone will want to have their pictures taken with the “chick who can make coffee in a percolator”.
It is within your grasp to don the title “Queen of the Hunting Camp”.

Here’s what you need:
A GOOD percolator! I bought 2 different cheap ones before I invested in a good quality model. It really doesn’t pay to buy a super cheap one because they have a multitude of problems that might make you want to give up and head for the nearest Starbucks. (Don’t do it. Your reputation is at stake!)

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Look for these things:
stainless steel construction throughout (including the insert) – I’ve seen some really nice enameled percolators. These are fine but usually don’t have an insulated handle, glass button top, or sturdy construction of the insert. If you find a great enameled one, look for these elements (and let me know)! They’re really cool and retro. I just haven’t found one that has everything I need.
a sturdy insert that doesn’t wobble, and (this is really important) a lid that fits securely on the insert basket so the grounds don’t spill out

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an insulated handle – It gets pretty hot. Mine is made of wood. Keep in mind your heat source. If you are intending to use a campfire or the like, you won’t want any plastic or rubber parts. By the same token, medal handles will require you to have a pot holder or cloth nearby.
a glass button on top – This allows you to see how your coffee is progressing as it perks up through the stem.
When purchasing a percolator, you also need to consider how many cups of coffee you will be preparing. When we go to Wyoming for the family camp trip, there are usually 40 to 50 people at any given time. I was tempted to get a huge honkin’ percolator from Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, or Army Surplus to accommodate them all. When we head out to the hunting camp, however, there’s usually just my immediate family, only two of whom drink coffee. I came to the conclusion that I can always make several pots of coffee for a larger crowd and that most of my camping during the year is for just a few people so I decided on the average sized percolator. Some of the larger models can, of course, do double duty as a hot tub.
Making percolator coffee
You will need:
coarsely ground coffee – I’ve made it countless times with regular canned coffee. The problem for me (maybe it won’t bother you as much) is that the grind used for automatic drip coffeemakers is slightly too fine for the basket of the percolator and grounds will inevitably end up in the coffee. By letting the coffee rest for a couple of minutes after it’s perked, and removing the insert before pouring, you can minimize the fiber from your coffee!  Most grocers have a “grind your own” section now. If grounds in your coffee bother you, you may consider going this route. Adjust the grind to “Coarse” and it will perc a great cup of coffee sans the stuff in your teeth!  My new favorite coffee of choice for the hunting camp is roasted right here in the great state of Texas, Brenham to be exact.  Jet Fuel is the variety. Deep, rich flavor. Independence Coffee Company (www.independencecoffee.com) is worth looking into.  I love to endorse local businesses!  I’m planning on a field trip to check things out (at Blue Bell Ice Cream, too, while I’m in the area)

good water – Bring several bottles of good drinking water just for your coffee. It really does make a difference in how the coffee disperses throughout.
a heat source – Know ahead of time what type of heat source you will be using; grill over a campfire, a camp stove, or a camper cooktop.

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Remove the insert from your coffeepot and fill the pot with water, using the coffee mugs from which you will be drinking to measure. Be careful not to fill so full as to reach the insert basket. Keep in mind that most coffee mugs are NOT 8 ounce cups. So a percolator that holds 10 cups will not fill 10 coffee mugs. My ruggedly cute enamalware mugs each hold 2 cups, for example.

Place coffee pot on your heat source so that it will begin to boil while you fill the insert basket.
Remove the lid from the insert basket and fill with one tablespoon of coffee grounds for each 8 oz. of water. Replace lid and place insert carefully into the percolator (it will be very hot at this point). Allow water to continue to boil for about ten minutes depending on how strong you like your coffee.* If using a camp stove or cooktop, once water begins to boil, turn down heat and continue to boil for ten minutes for strong coffee. You can check the progress of your coffee through the glass button in the lid.
I’d like to apologize for what may be considered unnecessarily drawn out and complicated instructions. Before I finally figured out how to be the hunting camp queen, I surfed the web and found many single paragraph descriptions for the perfect cup of camp coffee. They each seemed to leave out some important bit of info. Could it have been a conspiracy instigated by OTHER camping queens? Something to think about!

*Every heat source is different, as is each person’s preference for coffee strength. Sadly, this is really a trial and error endeavor. Don’t give up, however! After several tries, you will have perfected the process!

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Hunting, Uncategorized

 

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This Little Piggy…

.. ended up on our dinner table. It was delicious.

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This past weekend we participated in the South Texas version of autumn hunting. It was 80 degrees during the day and in the 60s at night. There was no bundling up against the cold, sipping hot chocolate. We did, however have a great campfire in a very nice fire pit. There was a constant gulf breeze that made the evening and nighttime very pleasant. There is nothing that compares to sitting around a campfire, leaning back in a camp chair and watching the stars!
My deerslayers harvested some wonderful wild pig. It is not the same as javelina. Wild pork is heavenly meat that doesn’t have the added fat from force-feeding, or the hormones, dyes, or antibiotics that commercially raised pork could.
These pigs are feral hogs that escaped domestic life about 400 years ago when the Spanish were trapsing across the country looking for gold. These wild pigs reproduced with abandon and have taken over much of Texas. Farmers and ranchers alike are eager to be rid of the animals because they root up the land about as much passion as they reproduce. Right! With abandon! They can decimate entire areas in little time. Anyway, the point is that the ranchers and farmers are as pleased to have us harvest the pigs as we are to do so.

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I love to prepare this meat. Even more, I love having it in the freezer. As I’ve mentioned previously, my freezer was bare for the first time in 28 years so I was very excited when my deerslayers dragged in some of God’s bounty. With the hams, shanks, fore-quarters, backstraps, tenderloins, and soup meat, I can prepare any number of great meals. It makes me feel “self-sustaining”. I’m even going to take a walk on the wild side and prepare the liver and heart tonight. I’ll get back to you on that one. If any of you have recipes for pork organ meat, let me know!

Our first celebratory meal from our pig harvest was a seared pork backstrap with balsamic reduction, steamed broccoli and (gasp) Velveeta cheese sauce. Don’t scoff until you’ve tried it. The cheese sauce is a nod to one of my mentors, Christine Friesenhahn of Texana’s Kitchen in her entry, “White Trash Wednesday”.

Seared Pork Backstrap with Balsamic Reduction and
Steamed Broccoli with Velveeta Cheese Sauce of Awesomeness
Serves about 4 people
1 wild pork backstrap
salt & pepper mix
olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (I recently found the BEST Texas balsamic vinegars and olive oils at a farmers’ market in San Antonio. What a great variety of interesting flavors. Ya gotta try ’em.Texas Olive Ranch.) I used the pomegranate balsamic vinegar for this recipe! Wow!
broccoli florettes

Velveeta cheese sauce of Awesomeness
1/4 brick of Velveeta, cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
a scant sprinkling of cayenne

I’m going to start this recipe with a tutorial on cutting a backstrap in preparation for cooking.

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The backstrap is a pretty long muscle.

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First, I use my favorite filleting knife to remove the white layer of “skin”or fascia.

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Then I cut it into three pieces of equal length that will fit easily into my cast iron skillet.

Liberally season the meat on all sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder mix.

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Sear the backstrap in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.

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Then place the browned meat in a 9 x 13 oven-proof pan and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The time will vary slightly depending on how long you seared it, how hot the pan was, etc. Because we’re cooking pork, it’s important that the meat be adequately cooked through, but not dry. Since the muscle is thicker on one end that the other, place the thinnest 1/3 between the other two. This will prevent the skinny piece from overcooking.

Twenty minutes usually is enough time for a medium sized wild pig. My daughter wants everyone to know that it’s important that the ovenproof pan NOT have a plastic cutting board under it when it’s placed in the oven. ‘Nuf said.
While the meat is resting for the required 10 minutes, steam some broccoli and pour some balsamic vinegar into the skillet in which you browned the meat.

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Use a whisk to scrape up the crusty yumminess that was left behind.

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If you’re using a balsamic glaze, you’re ready to go with an elegant sauce for your meat. you’re using balsamic vinegar, heat the sauce until it reduces and thickens. (Don’t forget the great olive oils and balsamic vinegars that are available from Texas Olive Ranch. I bought six!)

After you slice the meat, add the remaining meat juices to the sauce.

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Sometimes, I prepare a side of quinoa, also. Very elegant, kid-friendly, and super fast. Hunter-friendly and fabulous, too!

 

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