When I first got The Hunter’s Cookbook by Steve and Annie Chapman to review, I flipped through it to see what I was in for and was soon drawn in by the stories and anecdotes. As I read them I reflected on my childhood when my father, together with relatives and friends, would go on a deer, moose, bear, or wild bird hunt. It was always exciting to have him come home with his kill and immediately see my mother go into the process of helping him deal with the meat. Deer and moose had to “hang” for several weeks, while bear and birds had to be processed immediately. During most of my childhood we had no electricity so there was no way to freeze the meats; my mother had to can them in jars.
Once I got through reading the stories and reflecting, I set out to find wild meats so that I could test the recipes. Fortunately for me, a friend had venison in her freezer that I was able to get, and I could also buy some from a specialty store. The first recipe I tested was “Venison d’Paprika.”
I first cubed the venison into one-inch pieces and rolled them in a mixture of flour, paprika, salt, and pepper; then I browned them in a cast-iron skillet. (I have one that belonged to my parents and I know it has to be at least 90 years old!) Once the meat was browned, I removed it and put onions, paprika, garlic, marjoram, tomatoes, water, and wine into the skillet and simmered for 20 minutes.
Then I added the meat and cooked over low heat for about two hours. Just before serving it on a bed of noodles I added sour cream. Oh, my! The dish was delicious. The sauce was thick and the meat succulent; in fact the pieces were fork-tender. I’m sure this same recipe can be used for beef with the same tasty results.
The second recipe I tested was “Rosemary Roasted Rabbit.” This is the first time I’ve prepared rabbit, although I have eaten it many times. The recipe is simple; quarter the rabbit, season with salt and pepper, and place in roasting pan. Then pour white wine over it and add garlic and rosemary. After baking for one and a half hours the rabbit is ready to serve. I served it with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots with peas. The sauce was perfect and the rosemary flavor penetrated the meat. (I was able to purchase rabbit at the farmers’ market.)
For the third test recipe I chose “Fried Quail.” Again, I was able to purchase the birds (already cleaned) in a local specialty meat store. The marinade is made from buttermilk, seasoning salt, hot sauce, and garlic. I placed the quail in this mixture the night before so they marinated for about 20 hours (it says four to 24 in the recipe). When it was ready to fry, I dredged it in flour and let rest for about 10 minutes before cooking. It took about seven minutes to fry the quail. The meat was very flavorful and juicy, while the crust was crunchy. It is suggested to serve the dish with “Three Corn Casserole” which was like very rich cornbread. I used one can of whole-kernel corn, one can of cream-style corn, a box of cornbread mix, a half cup butter, and a container of sour cream. I have to agree, it went very well with the quail and the green salad I served.
The Hunter’s Cookbook would be an ideal gift for someone that loves to hunt. They will enjoy the anecdotes because they will probably be able to relate to the stories, and the recipes will give them a variety of ways to prepare their hunt. As well, I can see foodies enjoying the recipes, especially those able to buy wild game in local stores or at farmers’ markets. Recommended!
(Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views)