Tired of seeing deer pictures of eight and ten pointers that score 150-180 while you are still trying to figure out why there are more bears in your shooting lane than deer?
Wondering why hunters REALLY like to spend so much time at deer camp, why they don’t mind those cold showers, critters scampering across the roof at night, bionic mosquitoes and mud everywhere even in a six-month drought?
It’s really simple. Spending time in the woods, especially at the camp, is about nature. But not just as in Mother Nature. As in human nature, that which adapts itself to allow indulgence in pleasure — such as food. Lots of food. Fine food. Not traditional gourmet. But “more better”. I was fortunate enough to go full Epicurean in that regard recently at hunting camp. When the table in the woods is set, nothing else matters.
An early lunch while doing projects around the camp and telling stories about the one that never came, much less got away, was a good starter. I broke out the highly portable stainless FireXdisc grill and got back to basics, chopping up potatoes, onions, bell pepper and garlic and roast-grilling them on the disc in olive oil with several shakes of Mr. Kinny’s seasoning.
As they got brown with touch of semi-gloss black here and there around the edges, they were pushed aside to stay warm (a great design of this Texas cooking tool). Then came chunks of red meat. One pound New York Strips marinated overnight and heavily coated with Hard Core Carnivore Black seasoning — a combination of sea salt, garlic, sugar, black pepper, chili powder, onion and a not-so-silent majority base of just plain old activated black charcoal. Don’t knock it till you tried it. It’s from Texas, too. Texans know beef.
Blackened to a medium rare and plated on Chinet platters to be consumed at choice “tables” on the front of the side-by-side and the bed of the truck for myself, son Adam, grandsons Stewart and Jack and Pops. There was work to be done and carbs were needed. Or maybe it was a nap. That was it, a nap.
Then came the text from camp neighbor Trey Williams, foodie extraordinaire and gourmet cook. “Yes” is always the answer to an invite to dinner from Trey. After the evening hunt was over, nobody even asked if anybody saw a deer. Or a bear. Or got muddy. Deer hunting was secondary. The real kitchen worthy meal of the day was about to begin. To the stove!
With pots on every burner and the oven firing away like a well tuned football team headed for a score, Trey worked his magic on duck breasts and venison tenderloin for our group, himself and daughter Kathryn and guest Stuart Gilly and daughter, Landry, out for a father/daughter weekend.
The pictures speak for themselves. No Chinet for this meal. Real duck china plates here. It was so good, nobody even asked what was on the Brussels sprouts or the smashed potato sides. It was once again about the meat — and what was on it.
For the venison, Trey seared the straps to a medium rare. Then came a cream based sauce made in the pan he seared the back straps in. He sautéed shallots with oyster & shiitake mushrooms and de-glazed with homemade Mead (honey based wine), and finished off with a little cream.
For the ducks, he seared the breasts skin-side down on high heat to crisp the skin, and made a pan sauce with heavily reduced elderberry wine and Steen’s cane syrup and finished with a stick of butter!
Once again, the land provides.
I just love hunting.