Fall is hunting season, and the Arkansans are looking for tasty ideas to spice up all the fresh wild game they’ve gotten.
Many of us have already had a deer in the freezer since the beginning of archery season or muzzleloading season. By Monday, thousands more deer will be on the menu after the first weekend of the modern hunting deer season.
Also, many hunters hit the road early to catch pheasants and quail in South Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma. Everything is delicious, especially if you take the time to make it special.
Skillet venison is a traditional way to prepare venison in Arkansas. It works when you’re short on time, but it doesn’t do justice to the rich, woody flavor of the venison. Frying also dries out the meat, making it tough and chewy.
Because deer meat is so lean, it benefits greatly from the added fat. Slow, even cooking also locks in moisture and helps tenderize backs and tenderloins.
One of our favorite methods is to slice a section of backstrap into a roast. Sprinkle the outside generously with garlic powder, along with the desired amount of salt and pepper. You might even consider fluttering the roast and stuffing the cream cheese into the crevice.
We like to mix up seasonings, so we often sprinkle a combination of Cavender All Purpose Greek Seasoning, Badia All Purpose Ranch Seasoning, and McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning. We could use one or all of them, depending on how radical we are.
As a finishing touch, we wrap the roast with bacon strips in a spiral arrangement and secure the bacon to the roast with toothpicks.
Smoking is a good way to prepare the roast. We also love the effect of resting the roast in a shallow tank of garlic-infused olive oil. Cover the roast and cook at 350 degrees until the inside reaches the shade of pink you like. If you like your roast well done, well, bless your heart.
Serve with rice or potatoes. We prefer our creamed potatoes. Corn and sweet peas are also good accompaniments.
We have a lot of South Dakota pheasants in our freezer and it’s hard to come up with new ways to prepare them. Pheasant is also difficult to work with because it is mostly white and very skinny.
My daughter Brooke came up with a very tasty recipe using jasmine rice, sausages and prawns.
First, she cut the breast meat into small pieces. She also sliced a Johnsonville bratwurst into thin discs and sautéed them, along with the shrimp, in truffle-infused olive oil. She seasoned the mixture with Cavenders, Grill Mates Garlic & Herb Seasoning, a sprinkle of Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette and sliced jalapeno peppers.
She cooked the rice as directed which made a bed for the tasty protein. It was consumed quickly and with great satisfaction.
The bobwhite quail is similar to the pheasant, except it is much smaller, which means its delicate texture is easier to dry on cardboard. Slow cooking in a small slow cooker preserves their moisture.
We placed the quail in the slow cooker with two cups of water. We added Cavenders, jalapenos and a generous amount of Frank’s RedHot Honey and Honey Garlic Powder. We added asparagus, which was a mistake, and dried lentils. We turned the slow cooker to its “Low” setting and let it do its magic for five hours.
The result was a nice, rich stew.
The taste was very hot on the tongue, but the garlic fended off the heat with a rich, full flavor that filled the palate like a cloud of mushrooms. The honey provided a sweet and subtle aftertaste. The lentils, full, tender, nicely complemented the texture of the quail.
Initially, the asparagus corrupted the whole thing. It added an unwanted taste that made war on other flavors. My daughter Claire, who is in culinary school at Pulaski Technical College, declared the effort a failure and refused to eat any more.
However, after a day in the fridge, the flavors blended in and neutralized the effect of the asparagus. As tends to happen with stews and soups, this one got progressively better every day.
Nevertheless, the asparagus did not add anything constructive. We won’t be using it again in this recipe, but next time we’ll probably add baby potatoes.