Week 34: Game


Learning from the best, James Wood, about how to butcher an elk quarter. 

Hunting is not something I grew up doing in Vermont. We were certainly cognizant of hunting season and would wear orange for what felt like months whenever we walked behind our house in the fall, but no one in my family hunted. Our chocolate lab had to don a bright orange vest too lest she be mistaken for a deer. The famous or infamous story in the NE is of a woman being mistaken for a deer and shot while hanging up her laundry because she was wearing white gloves. So the fear was real. As you would expect having two parents from Texas Travis grew up hunting. Travis’s dad’s family had Thanksgiving early so they could go out hunting Thanksgiving weekend. Travis shot his first deer at age 12 and was excited to get back to hunting when we returned to CO after college. Always being up for something new I went on a hunting trip with Travis’s family and friends to Telluride about 7-months into dating. It was beautiful. Early morning sunrises, lots of walking and sitting, and plenty of good food and company. That year there were several lucky hunters including Travis. For elk hunting you want to bring along your strongest friends to carrying out an elk leg, or quarter, which is a big load. Wanting to impress all of Travis’s nearest and dearest I of course jumped in carrying the elk, butchering, and packing up the meat. It was definitely a new experience. Now 9 years later I’ve even learned a few things about cooking game meat. We save the tenderloin and tenders and grind the rest for burgers, chili, spaghetti sauce, and much more. Travis still does most of the game meat cooking though I am qualified to turn on the sous vide to start a tenderloin. We’ve learned over the years that overcooked game meat is inedible so cooking it sous vide, under vacuum, is the perfect solution. You set the temperature and a heat “stick” heats the water to exactly 125 degrees or whatever you want your meat cooked to and it is literally impossible to overcook and screw up. We slap it on the grill for a few minutes afterwards and it is dinner ready. This week we took advantage of a “warm” day and cooked up some fresh venison burgers from a deer Travis “caught” this fall on his boys hunting trip. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Venison Burgers and Roasted Zucchini Strips with Parmesan Cheese

  • Since Travis just “caught” a deer and we have fresh venison he decided to take advantage of the “warm” weather and do some grilling.
  • We also sliced some zucchini lengthwise, put them on a sheet pan on parchment paper, topped them with grated Parmesan and roasted them at 425 for 15-20 minutes. A super easy side dish!

Tuesday: Creamy Linguini With Peas Carrots & Prosciutto

  • This recipe is new and I love it! It can be done with any combination of fresh and frozen veggies.
  • We doubled the recipe for 1 lb of linguini.
  • The sauce is easier than most because it calls for milk and chicken stock which makes it less likely to burn and therefore less time intensive in the stirring department. I didn’t find that it thickened up very well with just the flour alone, but the cream cheese did the job just fine and makes it taste so creamy and delicious.
  • The lemon in here is the secret star of the show. I used the zest of a whole lemon and topped our bowls with a little juice.

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Sausage Cassoulet with Polenta or Grits and Green Salad

  • I couldn’t find cooked or uncooked Italian chicken sausage so I used raw pork Italian sausage, sliced it and browned it as the recipe suggested with the vegetables.
  • Browning the veggies is nice, but if you wanted to just dump everything into the cock pot and go, that would work just fine too.
  • I definitely added more veggies than it called for and liked the ratio. We also used a whole 12 oz pack of sausage.
  • I skipped step 3 and served it over polenta instead. Something like grits that could have soaked up the extra sauce might have worked better but it was super tasty nonetheless.

Thursday: Chicken Tikka Masala with Veggies and Brown Rice

  • This was our last Thursday night with Travis out on jury duty. He got picked last December for Boulder County Grand Jury duty and has had to be gone a number of Thursday nights this year making dinner more challenging than usual.
  • Since Tazzie is usually the most challenging part of our Thursday ladies night I try to do a quick and easy dinner so she can’t destroy too many toys in my absence.
  • This week I browned some chicken, added a bag of mixed frozen veggies and tikka simmer sauce and served it over brown rice. Nothing glamorous, but it got the job done.

Friday: Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque with Garlic Bread and Green Salad

  • This is a super hearty and very easy dinner. It definitely needs a green salad to help lighten things up a bit and the cilantro helps with that too.
  • I left the skin on the sweet potatoes. It softens up pretty nicely in the soup and doesn’t bother me.
  • I skipped using the food processor and put the peanut butter and sweet potato in a big bowl and mashed it with a potato masher and added the liquid to mix it together.
  • To make it a more complete meal I serve it with garlic bread too.

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