Friday, October 22, 2010

Wild Game in the Wild West

I live in the Wild Wild West. Northwest Montana to be exact. When I forget and think I'm back in Chicago, there are a few things that remind me:
  1.  There are illuminated road signs that instead of indicating the commute time, they inform travelers to watch for grizzly bears crossing the road for the next 5 miles.
  2. My parents had cocktail hour with a black bear last night and he has sort of become our new pet (my cat isn't thrilled about this).
  3. The only sky scrapers around are the giant Mission Mountains out our back door.
  4. Everyone I have met has elk, venison, grouse, bobcat, bear, and other wild animals in their freezers.
In honor of the opening of hunting season kicking into high gear, I am sharing some of our favorite wild game recipes! This will also celebrate the circle of life that we experience every time we eat something that is so graciously provided for us by mother earth.

Don't worry if you don't participate in this circle of life phenomenon called hunting. You can use regular beef or pork for these recipes and it will taste just as delicious.
I'm sharing a wonderful and easy Elk Cutlet recipe (made from the back strap which is the best cut off the animal) along with a fabulous slow cooked Spicy Asian Venison Roast and delicious and healthy Whipped Potato and Carrot side dish that pairs perfectly.

Tips for cooking with wild game:
  • Since these cuts are extremely lean, you want to be careful not to over cook. All cuts should be prepared rare or medium rare for maximum tenderness.
  • Meats can be aged in the refrigerator for 3 to 7 days to enhance tenderness
  • Marinade meats in soy, wine, ginger, or garlic based sauces (we use all of them in our recipe)
  • For more tips and recipes
Both cuts of meat were delicious and extremely tender and juicy and I didn't even need a knife, just a fork. And with almost half the calories, a third the fat, and more than 6 additional grams of protein why shouldn't it be what's for dinner?

Beer and wine pairing suggestions:

Wine - We recommend serving this with a bold red wine (we love Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon) which is consistently delicious and cost effective)

Beer - a great Amber beer (we love the Local Tamarack Yard Sale Amber and Full Sale Amber is also delicious).

Elk Cutlets
6 (4 ounce) elk cutlets * if you don't have elk you can substitute with sirloin beef cuts.

For the breading and dredging station:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon seasonal salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1. To start, gently pound out each cutlet using a mallet to tenderize. Lightly pound them out, but don't get too out of control. We want to eat this remember?

2. Next we'll set up the dredging station. Place three separate shallow bowls on the counter. In the first add the flour, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder. In the second bowl add the beaten eggs. And in the third, you guessed it, put those bread crumbs in there.

3. Now take each cutlet and dredge through the flour mixture, then give it a bath in the egg mixture and finish with a jump in the bread crumbs.

4. Heat a skillet with olive oil or vegetable oil. You'll only need about 1 tablespoon in the bottom. Once the pan is hot, place each cutlet and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Then you are ready to transfer to a plate and eat!

Servings: 6

Nutritional Skinny:
211 calories / 3.3 g fat / 31 g protein

Compared to beef cutlets: 462 calories / 26.2 fat

Spiced Asian Venison Roast
1 white onion; chopped
1 green pepper; sliced
4 cloves garlic; minced
1 1/2 pound venison roast
1 tsp. chicken rub
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried garlic powder
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup dry red wine (we love anything from Australia)
2 tbsp. soy sauce (low sodium)
Juice of half of a lemon
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves

Note: our roast sat in the fridge for 7 days which made it extra tender!

1. In a large crock pot add the diced onion, peppers, garlic to the bottom. Turn the crock pot on to low.
2. Take the venison roast and sprinkle the chicken rub, rosemary, and garlic powder on both sides. Place the roast on top of the onions and peppers in the crock pot. Add the two bay leaves to the crock pot.

3. In a separate bowl combine the Worcestershire, red wine, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then pour over the meat in the crock pot. Add the rosemary and bay leaves and cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. The meat will come out tender and delicious. Slice and serve reserving the broth for a gravy.

It will separate easily and the sauce is to die for! Serve with the Whipped Potato and Carrots for a complete nutritionally sound meal!

Servings: 6-8

Nutritional Skinny: 
159 calories / 3.3 g fat / 25 g protein

Whipped Potatoes and Carrots

1 pound baby carrots; chopped
1/2 pound red potatoes; cubed
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup 1% milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot place the chopped carrots and potatoes and cover with water. Cook over medium high heat for at least 60 minutes. The water should be lightly bubbling.

2. Once the potatoes and carrots are both softened, pour the water off and add the cream cheese, milk, and a pinch of salt and pepper (approx 1 teaspoon each). Using a mixer whip the potatoes and carrots until smooth.

3. Serve with the Venison roast with some of the broth poured over for an added treat.

Servings: 10

The Nutritional Skinny : 
119 calories / 2.5 g. fat / 21 carbohydrates / 2.5 g fiber / 3.6 g protein

Mental Health Benefit: There are always alternatives to the standard pork, beef, and chicken. Why not experiment with something new? Bring a new zest to the dinner table. It's sort of like getting a new style of jeans or a new hair cut. Cooking with something new adds a little extra spring to the step and a little more confidence that we all need to take on the world each day! Oh, but don't feed the bears. That's how we ended up we a new pet... we found out they really like bacon.

Now get your Hot Mess Self in the kitchen! :)

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