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Why Sous Vide is Perfect for the Hunting Camp

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Wanna be the favorite person at the hunting camp? Grab these few items and you’re all set to whip up some amazing meals with little effort!

Imagine….. autumn has arrived and it’s time to head out to the hunting camp. There’s so much to do! There are feeders to fill, game cameras to check, brush to cut. With all the work to be done, often supper gets “put on the back burner”. Get it? The guys will likely just heat a can of Ranch Style Beans. Ick.

This is where The Deer Slayer’s Wife can step up with something amazing and wow everyone at camp. If your hunting camp has a power hook up, you can use a sous vide cooker. It’s truly effortless. It also frees you up to help out with other chores associated with getting ready for deer season.

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Throw these things together:  any stock or soup pot at least 6 inches deep, some vacuum seal bags and a hand pump (you can actually use plain zipper bags in a pinch),  some cooking twine (in case you want to prepare a football roast).  It’s not in the picture but I ALWAYS bring my Salt-Pepper-Garlic Powder mix.  I put it on everything.

You’ll need a pot at least 6 inches deep for this particular sous vide cooker.  When it’s just going to be Deerslayer and me, I take the small 6″ pot.  If I’m going to be preparing a larger cut of meat for more people, I use a larger pot.  Ah, the freedom to choose!20180717_153943-265839914.jpg Then grab some frozen venison from the reserves you have in your freezer, a little olive oil, and maybe some fresh or dried herbs, and head for the hunting camp. You can use backstrap, tenderloin, football roast or other individual muscles from the hind quarter previously thought to be too tough to serve medium rare as a steak.

On the day you want to have the venison, take a break from the hunting chores and get things rolling mid-afternoon. See if the meat’s still frozen.  If it is, no worries!  Fill the pot with clean drinking water or distilled water within about 2-3 inches from the top of the pot.  On my sous vide cooker, there is a water level indicator that lets me know how much water I need. Next, attach the cooker to the side of the pot and plug it in.  Set the temperature at 131 degrees and let the water start heating up.

While the water’s heating, remove the frozen or semi-frozen meat from its bag, very liberally season it with salt, pepper, and garlic mix.  Place the meat in a fresh vacuum seal bag.  Add some fresh or dried herbs (maybe rosemary, thyme, oregano), some fresh garlic if you want, and a drizzle of olive oil.  You may have figured out by this point that there’s no real right or wrong way to do this part.  Then seal the bag and remove as much of the air as possible so the meat stays completely submerged in the water.  I usually attach the plastic bag to the side of the pot with a wooden clothespin.

Now, you’re ready to place the meat in the water bath.  I clip mine to the side of the pot with a clothespin.  You can set the timer for about 3 hours if the meat is frozen or 1 1/2 hours if it is thawed.  Once the water has reached 131 degrees, the timer will begin ticking away.

This is where the magic starts! Because the water is not boiling, you can go about your business until the meat is ready. If you aren’t back from your chores when the meat is done, no problem.  The water will keep it at the perfect temperature for up to a couple of hours.  After that, the texture of the meat will be affected somewhat.

Once the your venison is ready, remove it from the bag and place it on a cutting board. Pat it dry while you heat a skillet pretty hot with some butter or olive oil so you can sear your meat.  20180908_194040-1512771251.jpg

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I served this roast with horseradish sauce, some wilted spinach, onion, and bacon and also some garlic mashed potatoes.  Pretty amazing for the hunting camp.

Do some research about how to use the cooker and the wealth of wild game recipes!  There’s so much information about the Sous Vide method on the internet.  I got my first recipe from my nephew (venison football roast) and then found other recipes for wild game online.  Anova (the brand of my cooker) has LOTS of information.  Conor Bofin’s One Man’s Meat has become my go-to for sous vide information, outstanding game recipes, and witty stories.  His photography is a feast for the eyes, as well.

Hank Shaw’s Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook is another great resource.  Hank is an inspiration with his wealth of recipes, foraging tidbits, and hunting stories.  He also uses the sous vide method for many of his recipes.

Hunting season is upon us!  Grab your pot full of cooking magic, do a little research, and put on your hunting camp tiara because you are gonna be the camp queen!  Oh, don’t forget a bottle of wine for your highness!

 

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Dove Breast Crostini

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I take pride in having more whitewing recipes than the average Doveslayer’s wife.  Every dove hunter loves dove breast with a slice of jalapeño and wrapped in bacon and tossed on the grill.  It’s the pretty much the gold standard.  Everybody loves it. When I talk to people about dove recipes, many of them will look around sneakily and almost whisper,”Have you ever tried slipping a jalapeno in the breast, wrapping it with bacon, and grilling it?”

“Yep, I’ve tried it. Yes, it’s a great way to eat doves.  But there just have to be more ways to enjoy these tasty morsels,”I would say to myself.  That’s why I started experimenting with whitewing recipes.

We end up with lots of doves in our freezer every year.  When Deerslayer/Doveslayer goes out for a hunt, he usually comes home with doves that other hunters have given him, probably because most people only have one “go-to” recipe.  I needed more recipes.  So I started with Special Occasion Whitewing Doves with Gravy, which I received from the matriarch of the Deerslayer Clan,  Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder with Whitewing Breast,and  Chilaquiles Verdes with Dove Breast, both are variations of recipes we’ve enjoyed from favorite restaurants, and  Dove Ravioli in Browned Butter, a concoction of my own design.

As I worked on the ravioli recipe, my daughters were my taste-testers… to the point that I almost ran out of filling for the ravioli!  It was suggested that the ravioli filling would make a fantastic appetizer on crackers or toast… so I tried it.  Huge hit! Try it and let me know how you like it.  There are few recipes out there for dove appetizers.  I think you’ll like this one.

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  • a big splash of olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves,coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
  •  dove breasts (from 10 doves)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine ( a glug)
  • ½ cup parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • small toasts or crackers
  • chopped parsley for sprinkling

In a hot skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until almost caramelized. Reduce heat.

poblano soup, tomato cream sauce, bruni 008

Add in garlic,  dove breasts, chopped red bell pepper (or not), dried thyme, red pepper flakes, and a ¼ cup of white wine. You may need to add some more  wine during the food processing to get a good, spreadable consistency.

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20 breast fillets from 10 doves

 

Toss about until combined and dove breasts are cooked through, about 7-10 minutes.

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The dove breasts are not quite done yet.

You can cut into the dove breast to test for doneness. Remove from heat.

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The breasts are done!

Allow the ingredients to cool before you add the parmesan or it will melt and create a large glob.  You don’t want that.

Transfer mixture to your food processor, in batches if you have a food processorette like I do, and process until everything is finely chopped and holds together. This is when you can add more white wine if the mixture is too dry to be spreadable.

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Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve at room temperature with small toasts.

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