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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year, I didn’t get my Thanksgiving post finished in time for the holiday…which was a shame ‘cuz it was a real corker.  As I reread it, I still agree that I am blessed beyond measure, and my writing was inspired!  My apricot, pecan, and cornbread dressing is still pretty darn good, too.  This year, I’ll be adding fresh wild pork maple sausage with a touch of sage.

I’m reminded of a Thanksgiving many years ago, my first spent at a hunting camp.  I didn’t cook much of anything back in those days, nor did I enjoy “nature” in any way, shape, or form. However, I was in a position where it was necessary for me to establish myself as having some worth in the Deerslayer hierarchy. I hang my head in shame as I remember those days.

It was only by the grace of God that I was not responsible for preparing the turkey.  It’s funny that, now, I can’t remember what my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast was.  I’m guessing that no one else remembers either because I’m pretty sure that it was rather lackluster at best.

We had an old Airstream camper, back in those days.  It wasn’t the cool, retro kind.  It was really old and it leaked, when it rained,  right over the spot in front of the stove.  Did I mention that it rained cats and dogs that Thanksgiving?  And it was really cold?  And it dripped on my head and down my back as I prepared the lackluster side dishes that were all I had to offer in those days?  They were seasoned liberally, though, with angst, pouting, and misery.  Kinda bitter.

I believe the feast was good.  The turkey and the family were wonderful.  The desserts were delicious, as were the stories around the fire that evening.

I think it might’ve been that Thanksgiving many years ago that inspired me to become a Deerslayer’s wife, happier, rolling with the punches, able to see the humor in situations that can cause crankiness or a chuckle.  Remember those moments.  Use them to become what you want to be.  Use them for a chuckle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Clearly, I Need to Share a Wild Pork Recipe.

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For those of you that follow along with the daily ins and outs of the Deerslayer household, you have recently discovered that we have become the proud owners of a plethora of wild pork.  Deerslayer slew 6 wild pigs a couple of weeks ago.  Two went to his brother and the other four were packaged up, labeled, and carefully placed like puzzle pieces in our freezers.

It’s ironic that right before I heard the news, I had found a pork roast from January of this year that I knew would need to be eaten.(I suppose you’d like to know that it was in the freezer.) Boy, was that providential, or what?!?  I found this “cook all day” recipe in the files of The Pioneer Woman a year or so ago and have added it to my “staples” recipes.  I need to say right now that the Pioneer Woman is my hero.  Her recipes, lifestyle, family life, and taste in general parallel my own.  Except that she has a show on Food Network, and a huge cattle ranch, and a crew of people to help her with the chores.  But, other than that….

What hunters need to know about this recipe is that it works for any big hunk of wild pork that will fit into a cast iron dutch oven with a lid. I’ve used bone-in shoulder, bone-out shoulder, hams, roasts, pork butt, you name it. What I love about it is that, depending on the size of your family, this one recipe will provide several meals.  Usually the first day, the meat cooks for several hours, filling the the house with delicious, savory aromas.  It’s virtually impossible to keep everyone’s fingers out out of the pot, after it’s been taken out of the oven.  I’ve learned to roll with it and prepare some mashed potatoes and a salad and serve it like that.  Over the course of the week, the remainder of the meat will be used for pulled pork sandwiches and maybe some wild pork and green chile stew, or enchiladas with creamy poblano sauce.  One big hunk o’ pork will provide the Deerslayer household with three or four meals.  Yay!

Spicy Cook-All -Day Wild Pork

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One big chunk of pork that will fit into your cast iron dutch oven

One large onion, quartered (If you love onion, use two)

A liberal amount of Tommy’s secret salt and pepper mix or any salt and pepper mix

3 tbsp. of brown sugar

Approx. 4 tbsp.crushed chipotle peppers, depending on how much heat you like

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I always use the San Marcos brand. It’s readily available down here in South Texas. It adds a wonderful, smoky flavor to the pork and sauce.

About 1 ½ cups of Dr. Pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Place quartered onions in the bottom of a large cast iron dutch oven (that has a lid).

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Liberally season with salt and pepper mix a large “hunk o’ pork” that will fit into your dutch oven and leave room for the lid to fit on without touching the meat.  Be sure to season all sides.  Place meat on top of onions.

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Spread brown sugar over the top of the meat.

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Then smear crushed chipotle peppers over the brown sugar.

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Pour Dr. Pepper around meat.

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Cover with lid and place in preheated oven.  Every hour, for about 4-5 hours, turn meat over in pan until meat begins to fall apart.

The meat will fill the house with an amazing aroma that will render your family members virtually unable to keep themselves from  hovering around the kitchen.  Let them hover.  Make some mashed potatoes and a salad.  Revel in the glory.

 

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Successful Hunt? You decide!

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Okay, it was the first day of deer season in South Texas.  For the first time in quite a few years, Deerslayer headed out alone since the girls and I were had a previous commitment.  At daybreak, he scored this very nice ten-point, which weighed in at 185 pounds.

Within the next  24 hours, he added (you better sit down for this!) 6 wild pigs.  There were two pigzillas and 4 succulent, tender, I mean cute, little wild porkers.  What is it they say about too much of a good thing?

It’s important to remember that ranchers in these parts are always grateful to have the feral hogs eradicated from their property.  Wild pigs do lots of damage to crops and land, rooting for grubs and such.20141102_103016

Over the years, as all of you know,  I’ve become a huge fan of wild pork.  The more I use it, the more I appreciate the mild, lean, sweet meat.  The roasts, cook-all-day spicy pork butt and the resulting pulled pork sandwiches, tenderloin, steaks, bbq forequarter, and pan sausage. And don’t forget the fabulous smoked pork shanks!  Nowadays, I couldn’t live without them in beans, split pea soup, etc.   I will always make room in the freezer for some wild pork.  But SIX?

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Look at the tusks on that middle pig.

As fate would have it, Deerslayer’s brother was visiting from Dallas that weekend and was lamenting the fact that he had completely depleted his wild game stores.  His freezers were bare!  And with three big, strapping boys, it was a real issue.  Problem solved.  Brother went home with two of the pigs, leaving us with four pigs to process and package up.  Yay!  I say this a little sarcastically.  While I love wild game and thoroughly enjoy experimenting with new recipes, a project such as this monumental task left me a little less than enthusiastic.

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While the pig looks like it’s backlit and in the shadows, it’s pretty well blackened from the flame thrower.

Deerslayer (a.k.a. pigslayer)  had a few monumental tasks of his own before he even had a chance to “bring home the bacon”, as it were.  Hee hee

Down in this neck of the woods, these wild pigs have a tendency to have their fair share of ticks and fleas, which makes skinning them pretty unpleasant… unless you enjoy that whole primal ritual of checking each others’ nooks and crannies for the little critters.  I do not.  Neither does Deerslayer or the juniors.  “Necessity is the mother of invention”, ya know.  So Deerslayer created a device that seared the hair off the pigs while providing a pyrotechnics show of sorts.  Using a flamethrower and propane tank,(yeah, baby!) he was able to burn the hair (and any offending fleas and ticks) off the carcasses.  In the picture, you can see the propane tank and the hose that attached to the flamethrower.

Granted, the smell, I’m told, was less than pleasant but the pigs were hair- and critter-free.  A quick squirt with a hose and brush made the process much less worrisome.  The junior pigslayers and I were greatly disappointed that we missed the “show”.  Apparently, it was a sight to behold.  A display of genius!

We excitedly await the next opportunity to head out to the ranch so that I can do a video tutorial on the “flaming pig” process.  Perhaps it will go viral!

 

 
 

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Quail Season!

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I’d never really thought much about quail.  They’re really cute and funny to watch, running around, zigging and zagging this way and that.  I’d ordered them in restaurants a time or two and they tasted pretty good.  But I’d never really given them a second thought until….

I discovered that they were rather plentiful out at the ranch, and Deerslayer seemed to enjoy hunting them quite a bit.    “Don’t shoot what you’re not willing to eat” ran through my mind.  So I started ordering quail in restaurants, finding out which preparations were better than others, and thus began my quest for a repertoire of recipes for this new favorite in the Quailslayer household.christmas, quail 10-28-14 031  While I’ve come across many quail dishes that were quite delicious, there was one that really stands out.  The marinated quail were deboned except for the wings and legs, leaving the main  succulent, beautifully flavorful part of the bird to be savored without picking at bones.  The birds are seared, over high heat on a griddle or grilled.  They are flattened with a skillet to allow the heat to penetrate more evenly.

This is my take on that recipe:

 

Marinated Flat Quail

(serves 4 for dinner)

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8 quail, deboned (two per person)

½ cup Italian dressing

½ cup teriyaki sauce

5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 tsp. Sambal Oelek (ground, fresh chili paste found in the Asian food dept. of the grocer)

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1  tsp. ground black pepper

Quail can be purchased at the grocer, some already deboned. To help with my experimentation,  I’ve bought birds deboned, au naturale or bone-in, and prepared birds straight from the hunting camp.

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I found this brand at my local grocer. They were bone-in. Quite satisfactory. Skin intact, good flavor.

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They have a website which I photographed for your web-browsing pleasure.

.I found a great tutorial on deboning quail from Jacques Pepin on Youtube.  I wrestled a few quail before I got the hang of it.  Since I was deboning more than just a couple, I found that going through a single step for all the birds allowed me to hone my skills, so to speak.  For example, remove the wishbone from all 8 birds, then separate the wing bones from the shoulders for all eight.  You get the picture.  Game shears seemed to work better for me than a knife for detaching  the wings and legs.  Perhaps some of my readers feel more comfortable with a sharp knife for this task, but the shears did the trick for me.  As I said, moving through each step for all the quail allowed me to get a little bit more proficient with each one. For me, the most difficult part was detaching the skin from the backbone, particularly near the tail.  I used a butter knife to gently separate them.  The skin is quite delicate and it’s best not to tear it.  Several of my quail did end up with small holes in the skin, though.  Keep in mind that the skin DOES seal in the juices.  Nuff said.

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The first time I prepared the birds, I marinated them THEN tried to debone them. Mistake! Very slippery.

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Removing the wishbone

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One deboned quail. Basically, it is turned wrong-side out.

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…and right-side out.

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Mix all marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place a large zip bag in a spill-proof container that can go into the refrigerator several hours or overnight.

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Place deboned quail into the bag.

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Pour marinade over quail. Remove excess air and seal bag. Squish around gingerly to incorporate marinade but not damage delicate quail or pierce bag with bones.

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Marinated, deboned quail ready for the griddle

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Place quail on hot griddle. They’re pretty floppy so arrange them so that they look comfortable. Place cast iron skillet on top and cook for about 2 minutes.

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Okay, there’s not really a reason for putting this picture in other than I was really proud of how this bird turned out. Pretty professional, huh?

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Flip with a metal pancake turner. Replace skillet and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn down heat slightly if griddle begins to smoke too much. Place on an oven-safe dish to warm.  Done.

Deerslayer and I prepared these on the grill up in Vail.  They were a big hit.  We used the skillet method on the grill as well.

For an easy and impressive side dish, I served Uncle Ben’s Original Recipe Long Grain and Wild Rice.  I prepared it according to directions, adding finely chopped  carrots and some frozen peas.  Nice.

 

 

 

 

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