Friday, May 8, 2009

You Are What You Eat

My husband is a hunter. Not in the men are from mars context...trying to explain away why relationships are complex. He is a real hunter...the kind whose closet contains as many camo garments as it does dress shirts (or perhaps more in his case). The thing is, Mike doesn't kill anything he doesn't intend on eating. Fine when it comes to odd turkey hunt, or pig posse...but what do you do when on his shoulders is a big bear.
Can it, of course.
Before you go saying...hmmm interesting....
Let me stop you...
it is awful. Salt it, spice it, add potatoes and onions...
still gross
slice it, dice it, deep fry it
not even edible dipped in me
it tastes just like you would imagine bear to taste...bearey...
Moose Manwich, tasty..
Venison and eggs...respectable breakfast
I even will eat Dall sheep stew without much of a fuss.
but bear...not unless the only other option is person.

I grew up in Los Angeles, where rabbit is considered wild game. Nevermind that every shop in Chinatown has a stockade of little bunnies to choose from. Reminds me of that scene in "Roger and Me"...pets or meat. I laughed and laughed at that poor woman's expense. In reality the joke was on me. People eat rabbit and people keep rabbits as pets. Pets or meat is a legitimate question.

I've cooked rabbit...I've eaten rabbit. It's quite tasty actually.

We have a freezer full of "exotics". Did I mention my husband is a hunter? Funny thing, hunters are friends with hunters...and so if we don't catch, lure, shoot, spear it ourselves, there is always someone else who has more than they can eat and wives who insist that they share.

I was at a cancer seminar recently and the inevitable talk about nutrition began. We've been hearing more and more about eating a Mediterranean diet. I really wanted to raise my hand and ask...where does wild game fall on that list? But because I was in a room full of women who obviously didn't eat, let alone eat game, I lowered my hand.
And then it came to me.
The meat is great for you...the preparation and accompaniments are what will kill ya. Venison.. lean meat...great for you...creamy gooey mac n' cheese, not so much.

Remember when I said, hunters are friends with other hunters? Well, a few weeks ago, one such friend dropped by the house...with a cooler full of pheasant and chukar. Huh?
I mean, who ever heard of chukar outside of over hearing it in reference to getting rid of someone..."yeah, she's a nice girl, but she's harshing my mellow, so I think I will chuck her."

Bottom line...most game needs to be marinated, slow-cooked, or both. I adapted an Indian recipe I love, for the birds. This sauce is delicious...but even it can't make bear taste good. It's a little spicy, a little sweet and a lot tasty.

If you can't find chukar in your local field or parking lot, try lamb, beef, pork or turkey. Serve with rice to help sop up the juices.

Chukar Vindaloo

4-6 servings
1 medium onion peeled and quartered
1 inch fresh ginger--peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic—crushed
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ Tbs coriander seed—toasted and ground
1 ½ Tbs cumin seed--toasted and ground
1 Tbs ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
pinch cinnamon
pinch red pepper flakes
¼ tsp or more cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 cup water

4-6 chucker--skinned removed (if using other meat, use about 3lbs--cut into pieces)
1/2 small onion--thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth
handful of raisins
1-3 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
Finely process the onion, ginger and garlic. Add the vinegar, coriander, cumin, turmeric, sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper. Process until if forms a smooth paste. Add water to resemble a thick soup. Pour into a ziploc type bag. Add chucker and marinate 4 hours or overnight. Too cook. Heat a medium to large dutch oven with a bit of olive oil Saute onions until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the chucker and all the marinade to the dish. Add the chicken broth and raisins. Lower heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes. The meat should be falling off the bone, but not actually off the bone. Do not let the sauce get too thick. Add more chicken broth if necessary. Do not let sauce boil. If desired you may add a bit of dijon mustard to make the flavor "pop".


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