Sunday, May 22, 2016

Butterflied Grilled Trout with Compound Butter

I have to give my compliments to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Yeah, I do work for them, but the trout fishing opportunities the state provides are phenomenal, especially if you're looking to fill your freezer. No, you won't find Montanan, Where a River Runs Through It-esque, trout fishing here. We have some cold water streams scattered around but the majority of trout fishing occurs in ponds and lakes. Thousands of rainbow trout are raised in hatcheries and stocked in local waters every year. Hardcore trout anglers may scoff, but we work with what we can. These trout are meant to be easy to catch but that doesn't mean that they aren't fun to fight, providing yet another fishing opportunity for young and old, beginners and experts in Nebraska. Not only that-- the trout are quite tasty. 

Just 20 minutes from our house is one such pond. Rick and I have caught limit after limit there this spring and have introduced a few friends. If you know what you're doing, it's like taking candy from a baby. We get to spend a nice morning outdoors and return home with a guaranteed dinner. That's a great time, in my book. Every trout we've caught have been good eating size, and some of the females we've reeled in have been huge. We've been able to catch enough fish to enjoy throughout this summer when the fish will probably be less active. They are so tasty-- a mild salmon flavor. Six bucks per tag for four trout. We'll take it!


Servings: 4
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Ingredients:
- 4 whole trout, scaled and deboned
- Your favorite lemon and herb spice blend seasoning
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Olive oil for brushing
Compound Butter
- 4 tablespoons of salted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon of shallot, chopped 
- Chives, chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt

1. Debone and butterfly trout according to the video at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkmkbJtrhFY. You'll need fish tweezers to be able to get all the pin bones out. I've done this when the fish have been completely thawed and when it's still partially frozen. I find that deboning trout when it's partially frozen keeps the meat intact better. Trout meat is delicate and when you handle it too much, it does get a little mushy, but it's not a big deal. If necessary, rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

2. To make compound butter, combine softened butter, chive, shallot, zest and a pinch of salt. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface, place compound butter in the middle and then roll up compound butter into a log. Twist the ends and refrigerate to harden.

3. Prepare grill to cook over high, direct heat. After the trout have been deboned and butterflied, brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lemon-herb seasoning and salt on both sides. Be careful not to over salt. 

When the grill grates get hot, scrub grates with a wire brush and clean thoroughly. Never cook fish on a dirty grill-- it will stick.
4. Cook trout skin-side up for about 3-4 minutes, or until meat is slightly golden. Slide a metal spatula under the fish and carefully flip. Cook skin-side down for an additional 3-4 minutes or until skin is slightly crisp and fish is cooked through. 
5. Serve fish hot with pats of compound butter on top. Warn dinner guests about bones that may have been missed.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quail Scotch Eggs


Rick and I were at the Asian grocery store in Omaha and saw fresh quail eggs. We still had some Jones Dairy Farm breakfast sausage in the fridge and thought it would be fun to make mini Scotch eggs. They were easy to make and very tasty.

Honestly, I did try to make this with chukar eggs that our neighbor gave us. But after boiling them, the darn shell would not budge without ripping the white parts. I'm not sure why that happened, but I have read that when eggs are too fresh, and these were very fresh, the shells tend to stick. 

In the United States, I think eggs can keep up to 2 months. They may sit in a warehouse for a month before actually hitting the store. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but the store bought quail eggs definitely peeled much easier.

Scotch eggs are a traditional picnic food that originated in the United Kingdom. They are tasty hot or cold. The mini eggs would make great appetizers as well. The dried tarragon is our own touch, which added a gentle anise-like flavor to the eggs. 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 mini Scotch Eggs
Ingredients:  
- About 10 quail eggs
- 12-ounce roll of breakfast sausage
- 1 tablespoon of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
- 1/2 cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Gently lower quail eggs into the water and cook for 3 minutes. Remove eggs and run cold water over them to cool. 
When cool enough to handle, carefully peel the quail eggs.  
2. In a medium bowl, combine breakfast sausage, parsley, paprika, cayenne and tarragon. 
Place about 3 tablespoon of the sausage mixture in the palm of your hand. Flatten it out and place a cooked, peeled quail egg in the middle.  
Gently work the sausage around the egg, encasing the egg and sealing it completely. 
Place eggs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking.  
3. Prepare your dredging station by placing the beaten egg, breadcrumbs and flour in separate bowls.  
Lightly roll Scotch egg in flour, shaking off excess. Then dip it in the beaten egg and then cover completely with breadcrumbs.  Place the dredged Scotch egg back onto the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the quail eggs.  

4. In the meantime, heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 375º Fahrenheit. Deep fry eggs until golden brown and the sausage is cooked through, about 5 minutes. They are very crispy when you eat them fresh, but they will be hot! 


Scotch eggs are also tasty cold, though they won't stay crispy. Pack them for your next picnic or lunch! 



















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Friday, April 22, 2016

Linguine with Morel Mushrooms and Parmesan


I enjoy pasta, but I don’t like the creamy stuff. Red sauce, I’ll eat up readily, but the white creamy stuff—not my thing. Instead, I throw together a more buttery and herby pasta at home that is quick and easy, perfect for days when I don’t have lots of time to spend in the kitchen. For the base, all you need is pasta, butter, lots of Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and fresh parsley. As for the other ingredients, I throw in what I have on hand—leftover chicken, turkey, sautéed shrimp, sausage, or whatever. Maybe I’ll add in a little bit of fresh thyme or red pepper flakes.

This time of year, however, the morel mushroom is the star ingredient. This is one of my absolute favorite ways to prepare morels. The combination of fresh parsley, meaty mushrooms, salty Parmesan cheese and good Irish butter just sings spring to me. If you’d like your pasta a tad bit creamy, then mix in a little heavy whipping cream.

Don’t worry too much about measurements, though, because this recipe can be adjusted to your taste. In fact, the measurements here are just guesses. Cook to your liking and enjoy. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 -1 pound of uncooked linguine pasta
Ingredients:
- Morel mushrooms, rinsed and halved or quartered lengthwise
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced (or more-- you can't have too much!)
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 tablespoon of butter
- 8 tablespoons of Kerrygold slated Irish butter (or regular)
- Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
-  Grated zest of one lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil for tossing

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a generous pinch of salt to the water. Follow package directions to cook pasta to al dente. Drain pasta but reserve cooking liquid for later use.

2. In a large pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until translucent, but do not brown.
3. Turn up heat to medium-high and add morel mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until mushroom soften and given up most of their moisture. Cook in batches for better browning. 

Once mushrooms are cooked, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until garlic becomes aromatic but do not brown, stirring frequently.
4. Turn down heat to medium-low. Add in 8 tablespoons of butter to the mushrooms and wait until it melts. Toss in cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, freshly chopped parsley and lemon zest. 
5. Loosen up pasta by ladling in a bit of the reserved pasta water and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat pasta thoroughly and serve with more Parmesan sprinkled on top.    

Serve hot!





















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Order our book Hunting for Food: Guide to Harvesting, Field Dressing and Cooking Wild Game today! http://foodforhunters.com/product/hunting-for-food-guide-to-harvesting-field-dressing-and-cooking-wild-game/









Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Teal à l'Orange

Early teal season is nice because it happens in September, when the days begin to cool down and the mornings are neither too hot nor cold. Hunting the first day of the season is a tradition for many families, including Rick’s cousins who are avid waterfowl hunters. Rick went two years ago with the Browns and did well. This last season, I decided to tag along with my camera. 

Though the 2015 opener was slower compared to previous years, Rick and I were able to come home with six ducks. We plucked all ducks and found them to be pleasantly fat and healthy. However, one was extremely shot up, so we decided to use it for stock. I was also able to take some of the excess fat from near the tail area and rendered it down for later use. Here’s a great tutorial on how to render duck/goose fat from Hank Shaw: http://honest-food.net/wild-game/duck-goose-recipes/rendered-duck-goose-fat/ 

For those in need of instruction on how to hunt and process waterfowl, check out our book Hunting for Food

This recipe was adapted from bon appetit’s Duck à l’Orange, a classic French dish. Cooking time was adjusted for teal, which is a small duck that takes little time to cook. We also made some tweaks to suit our tastes. This recipe is a winner! It was an ideal treatment for these tasty, little birds. 

Servings: 2 

Prep Time: 30 minutes 
Cooking Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes 
Ingredients: 
- 4 whole teals, plucked and wings removed (reserve) 
- 2 tablespoons of duck fat or oil
- Quarter of an onion, roughly chopped

- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 rib of celery, chopped
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 3 cups of chicken broth
- 3 cups of water
- 1 duck carcass of shot up duck, optional
- 3 naval oranges
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup of port
- 1 tablespoon of cold butter
- 1 teaspoon of lime juice
- Paprika

1. Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit. If available, cut up duck carcass into smaller pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of duck fat or oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Brown duck carcass pieces and wings, onion and 3 sprigs of thyme for 5-7 minutes. Next, add celery, carrot, peppercorns, chicken stock, and water. Simmer for 1 hour. 

 2. Slice off the peel and pith (white part) of one orange. Remove as much pith as you can from the peels using a fillet knife. Add the peels to the simmering stock. Cut out the orange membranes over a bowl and reserve for later. Juice the other two oranges.
 3. Pat ducks dry and prick them all over with a toothpick-- this will allow the skin to render more efficiently. Season them well with salt, including inside the cavity. 
Place ducks breast side down in a cold, heavy skillet. Turn up the heat to medium and allow the skin to render and brown. Then turn ducks on their sides and backs to brown. Remove ducks from the skillet and place them on a baking sheet. Do not cook ducks all the way through-- you only want to brown the skin. Set aside.
4. Once stock is done, strain it. Discard all solids except the orange peels. Slice the peels thinly and reserve.

In the same skillet where the ducks were browned, add 1/4 cup of port and reduce to a syrupy consistency; scrape the bottom of the pan.
Next, add the strained stock, orange juice and 2 more sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce until thickened and smooth (about 20 minutes)-- you will end up with about 1/3 cup of sauce. Take off heat, remove the thyme and whisk in cold butter and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. (You can complete this step while you bake the ducks in the next step.)
5. Lightly dust paprika over duck breasts and sides. After your oven has had at least a half hour to heat up after it reached 450°, roast the teals for 12 minutes; meat will be pink. Cook longer if you like meat that's more done and crispier skin. (It's a bad trade off either way for me-- I like crispy skin, but I also like pink meat. I haven't been able to achieve both.) 

Allow ducks to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle orange sauce on the dish and lay duck on top. Garnish dish with orange wedges and sliced peel. Serve with roasted vegetables. 

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To order our book Hunting for Food: Guide to Harvesting, Field Dressing and Cooking Wild Game visit: 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Garlic and Lime Grilled Whole Bluegill

It's June and the weather has been crazy here in Nebraska. It rained constantly through the month of May and now June has been equally wet, with only a few breaks of sunshine in between. We both wish the best to those affected by the floods in Texas-- our troubles here are nowhere near as bad. It's also getting a lot warmer. The old house we live in doesn't have good insulation, so it does get a bit warm. I shudder to think what July and August will feel like. I just hope we don't get any tornadoes this spring. Some people like them, but I have a VERY healthy respect for weather. I saw what tornadoes did to Pilger, Neb. last summer, which was only 20 miles from me, and I do not ever plan to experience that myself. The bugs are already out in full force, and they eat me alive. Apparently, there are blood-thirsty flies here, and they adore me. I still have scars on my arm from last summer.  We haven't gone fishing at all this spring, due to the constant rain and getting our household together. Wow. That paragraph was so ADD.

But, I did have these fish in the freezer. I caught these bluegills through the ice last winter, and it was about the only time I actually enjoyed ice fishing. The ice was thick, as we had a frigid winter, but that Martin Luther King, Jr. day, the sun shone brightly and I believe the temperature was 60 degrees. The Game and Parks office where I used to work up in Norfolk has a tradition of going ice fishing every MLK Day. The last time I went before that, it was about 5 degrees, the wind was howling, and I had just moved to Nebraska literally a week before from SoCal. It was shoddy fishing. I didn't understand all that trouble and the suffering in the cold to catch nothing, so I hadn't been on the ice until last January. 

The weather was fair, as I am a fair-weather hunter and fisherman -- unlike Rick -- so I decided to give it another shot. I sat with my good friend Scott Wessel (also my co-worker, a wildlife biologist), whom I fished with the last time I was out. That was also the first day I met Scott, and actually, one interesting thing did happen two years ago. Scott caught a bluegill, I think it was, and I asked him to show it to me for a picture. He moved too close to the heater in the ice shack and his elbow caught on fire. Scott panicked and quickly put the flame out, but it had burned clear through his sweater. Not knowing Scott too well, I sat there in silence, wide-eyed, not knowing how to react. You can imagine the awkwardness I felt. I hadn't even started my duties as Regional Editor in northeastern Nebraska yet; I didn't know any of these people; I was was sitting in the middle of a frozen lake for the first time and listening to the terrifying "thwong" of cracking ice; I had never ice fished before, an activity that is still odd to me; and then I watch this stranger catch on fire. News traveled fast and poor Wessel became the butt of jokes for months. We are good friends now, but he knows to stay away from heat when I'm around. Anyway, Scott and I did really well last winter. It wasn't an exceptionally fast-action day, but we caught a good number of bluegills, enough for a couple meals. I also tasted Kipper for the first time that afternoon, which looked a lot like cat food, but it didn't taste so bad with crackers. 

As small as bluegill are, I think they are a good-tasting fish-- sweet and firm. They cook up quickly and are especially delicious marinated and grilled, which gives the meat a smoky flavor. And because they are small, they are great whole. 

Book Update: Good news! Our book is now available for pre-sale at Shop Deer Hunting: http://www.shopdeerhunting.com/hunting-for-food , and will be officially released July 15. According to the website, it should ship on 7/13. You can order there, or you can also order the book from us. Once we figure out when we can get our shipment in, we'll have a Paypal shopping cart on our website. The book includes 176 pages of instruction of how to hunt, field dress and cook 13 different species. Step-by-step photos are included, much like how we have run our blog, and they are full color. We hope you all get a chance to see the book. Thank you all for supporting us over the years! We'll post more updates as the release date gets closer.

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
- 6 pan-size bluegills, gutted and scaled
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
- 1 lime, juiced
- lime wedges for serving
- 1 tablespoon of cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 green onions, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste


1. Roast jalapeno pepper under broiler or stove top until charred all over. Once blackened, place in a zipper lock bag or in a small bowl covered with a towel. Until cool enough to handle, scrape off charred skin and cut off stem. Mince pepper and set aside. 

2. Wash bluegills under cold water and pat dry. Score fish three times on each side 
Sprinkle well with salt and pepper all over and inside the cavity. 
3. In a small bowl, combine minced jalapeno pepper, garlic, chili powder, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil and green onion. Pour marinade into a gallon zipper bag and add fish. Massage to evenly distribute the marinade, then refrigerate for 2 hours. 
4. Prepare grill to high heat. Clean grill grates thoroughly to avoid sticking, then brush with oil. Remove fish from marinade and then grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. 
Serve immediately with lime wedges.
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