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Wild venison, blue cheese and mushroom pie

hunters kitchen spread

I am a professional chef and amateur hunter. I have spent time hunting in most of the North Island ranges but do most of my hunting in the Tararua’s. Working as a chef has sent me to several locations in the world and I have worked in New Zealand, Malaysia, Cook Islands and the Maldives. I first started out hunting rabbits and possums with my old man when I was a kid before moving on to goats and deer as I grew older. As a chef I like to use the best produce available. Hunters when killing humanely and taking only what they need can end up cooking with not only the most ethically harvested meat but when dealt with properly, the best quality also. I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from and how best not to waste it, and that’s why I think hunting and cooking marry so well together and that’s what I hope to promote and achieve through sharing the recipes and techniques we use to cook wild game professionally.  

You can find a new recipe using wild game in every new edition of NZ Guns & Hunting Magazine. Here is the first recipe from The Hunter’s Kitchen from the May/June edition.

venison pie

Wild venison, blue cheese and mushroom pie
Serves 6
This recipe utilises Venison shoulder and is great dish for the colder months. Shoulder is a heavily worked muscle which means it requires a slow long cooking time to break down the connective tissue, the flip side is that the tougher cuts of meat have more flavour!
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
4 hr
Ingredients
1kg Diced, trimmed Venison shoulder (or neck)
1/2 Onion
3cl Garlic
100g Blue cheese wedge
1 bottle Speights or any other ale beer
200ml Red wine
Chicken stock (or water) – enough to cover
1 Sprig Thyme
1 Sprig Rosemary
50g Dried mushrooms (porcini best but can use shittake)
100g Mushrooms (buttons or flats)
2Tbsp Duck fat (or butter or cooking oil)
8Tbs Plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 Pkt Puff pastry sheets
1 Egg (whisked with 1Tbs water)
2Tbs Melted butter
Instructions
Crush the garlic and dice the onion. Roughly chop the mushroom stalks and dried mushrooms. Heat the duck fat in a pot and cook off the garlic, onion and mushrooms until nicely browned. Dust the diced venison in a little flour and in 4 or 5 batches, sear in a hot pan with a little oil until nicely browned. Combine all ingredients together in a deep oven dish (adding enough water or chicken stock so the ingredients are covered) and braise slowly at 150C until tender – about 2-3hrs. If the sauce is too thin then drain the liquid into a pot and reduce until nicely thickened, season with salt and pepper. Cool.
Once cool grease several small (or one large) pie tins and line the base with puff pastry, fill with the pie mix and crumble some blue cheese on top. Place some puff pastry on top for a lid and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim off any excess pastry and brush the top with some whisked egg wash. Bake 1t 180C for about 12-15 mins or until the pastry is cooked and a nice golden brown.
I suggest serving with some buttery mash potatoes and tomato relish.”
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Truffled Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup w Pancetta Crumbs

This is a really heart soothing soup, the truffle oil really elevates this dish so if you have it then be sure to use it. To make a pure cauliflower soup you can omit the parsnip and replace with equivalent cauliflower and vice versa. To make it vegetarian omit the pancetta crumbs and replace with croutons and swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock.

Truffled Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup w Pancetta Crumbs
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 hr
Cook Time
30 hr
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 hr
Cook Time
30 hr
Total Time
50 min
Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup
3Tbs Butter
2cloves Garlic
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 Cauliflower (or 1 whole small one)
3-4 Parsnips
500ml Milk
500ml White Chicken Stock
Salt and White Pepper
Truffle Oil
Pancetta Crumbs
1Tbs Olive oil
4 slices Pancetta (or can replace with Salami etc)
1/2clove garlic
1Tbs Chopped Parsley
1tsp Chopped Thyme
1/4C Breadcrumbs (preferably panko or home made)
For the Soup
Sweat the chopped garlic and the chopped parsnip in the butter over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and simmer for 10-15mins until the parsnip is nearly cooked. Add the chopped cauliflower and the milk and simmer over a low heat until both the cauliflower and the parsnip are very soft and fully cooked. If at any time the liquid reduces too much during cooking and the vegetables are no longer covered you can just top it up with some more stock or water. Remove the bay leaves and puree in a blender or use a stick blender. Add more milk if the soup is too thick and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
For the Pancetta Crumbs
Finely chop the garlic and the pancetta and fry in the olive oil until golden brown. Add the breadcrumbs and chopped thyme and cook until all is golden brown. Drain on a paper towel then in a small bowl mix through the chopped parsley.
To Serve
Serve the soup piping hot in warmed bowls with a generous drizzle of the truffle oil and a good sprinkling of the crumbs on top.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Brain Popcorn w Smoked Chilli Mayo

Here’s one of the recipes from my most recent Offal cooking class. There’s no fundamental difference in offal from any other cut of meat (it all comes from an animal) and if cooked right can be delicious. Lamb’s brains and sweetbreads are two really non confronting types of offal and lend themselves really well to crumbing and here I have served with a smoky chilli mayo which you could also serve with anything deep fried.

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Image courtesy of Lucy Mutch, Crave Cooking School and Production Kitchen (http://www.cravecookingschool.co.nz/) 

Brain popcorn w smoked chilli mayo
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Court Bouillon
1lt water
½ onion
1 celery stick
2 bay leaves
1/2tsp pepper corns
1tsp salt
Smoked Chilli Mayo
2 yolks
1 whole egg
1tsp tabasco sauce
1/2 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon
200ml canola oil
60ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4tsp Chilli powder
Dash smoke essence
Crumbed Brains
250g Lamb's Brains
1 Egg
100g Flour
100g Panko bread crumbs
For the Brains
Firstly make the court bouillon by roughly chopping the vegetables and combining all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to the boil and then drop to the simmer. Add the brains and simmer for a 3-5mins until they are just set. Remove and place on a tray and chill.
For the Mayo
Combine all ingredients except the oil and smoke essence in a food processor. Slowly add the oil while blending to emulsify. Add smoke essence to taste and more tabasco/chilli powder if more heat is desired. Season. Add warm water at the end for consistency if necessary.
To Finish
Whisk the egg with a little water. Crumb the brains by first dredging in the flour, then the egg and finally in the panko bread crumbs. Shallow fry or deep fry in oil until crispy, drain on paper and season.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding with Rum Caramel and Fried Banana

Bread and butter pudding

Got some croissants left over after the weekend? Put them to good use with this bread and butter pudding recipe. If you don’t have any pastries on hand you can use any sort of white bread but using pastries or croissants raises it to the next level.

 

Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding with Rum Caramel and Fried Banana
Serves 8
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Fried bread pudding
12 small or 6-7 large croissants/Danish pastries
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 Cup sugar
450ml cream
1/2tsp vanilla essence
Rum caramel
150g sugar
75ml water
50ml cream
30ml rum
50g butter
For the bread pudding
Whisk the whole eggs and the yolks with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
Scald the cream with the vanilla and whisk onto egg mix, pass through a fine sieve.
Slice the pastries and arrange in layers in a greased terrine mould or loaf tin making sure to ladel some of the custard mix over the pastries between each layer.
Push down the pastry and custard mix to ensure everything is well combined and leave to rest for 30mins for the pastries to fully absorb the custard.
Bake at 120C for approximately 30 minutes until nicely puffed up and golden brown.
Cool, slice and then pan fry in butter or reheat in the oven to serve.
For the Rum Caramel
Simmer the sugar and water to golden caramel.
Carefully and off the heat, stir in the butter and then the cream and lastly the rum.
Serve warm.
Notes
Serve with some fried bananas and some good quality vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
 

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Thai Green Chicken Curry

During my travels cooking I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic Thai chefs both when in Malaysia and when working for a Thai resort in the Maldives. To me Thai cuisine is all about punchy vibrant flavours, which I love. You’ve got to have the right balance between salty (fish sauce), sour (lime juice), spicy (a good kick of chili) and sweet (sugar) to make sure you get an authentic taste, and if you’re not sure what that authentic taste is then what better excuse than to book a flight to Thailand!

Thai Green Curry
Serves 4
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Thai Green Curry Paste
1/2 stalk lemongrass
1 green chili
1/2 shallot
2 cloves garlic
8g galangal
1/4 cup coriander (leaves and stalks)
1/4 cup basil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. coconut cream
Thai Green Chicken Curry
400ml coconut cream
100g bamboo shoots
70g green curry paste
1tbs fish sauce
200g chicken thighs
½ tsp palm sugar
1/2tsp green chilli – seeds removed, fine chop
8 kaffir lime leaves
200ml water
1tbs basil – chopped
To serve
12 Basil leaves
4tsp Red chilli - sliced
For the Curry Paste
Roughly chop and blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor until well combined.
For the Thai Green Curry
Simmer 1 cup of coconut cream and curry paste over moderate heat, stirring until it becomes fragrant and the oil starts to separate from the coconut cream.
Add the Chicken and cook over a moderate heat, stirring frequently until the chicken changes colour.
Add the remaining coconut cream and sufficient water to cover the chicken.
Add Lime Leaves and Bamboo Shoots.
Bring to the boil (stirring), reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is tender.
Stir in the fish sauce, sugar, green chilli and basil.
Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Transfer to a serving bowl and scatter with the fresh Basil and Chilli slices.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
 

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Dark chocolate mousse

A chocolate mousse is only as good as the chocolate you use so try to use good quality. I don’t like using too much sugar in my mousse and don’t use cream, to me a chocolate mousse should taste first and foremost of chocolate with a little sugar as seasoning, I feel cream tends to dilute the chocolate taste and too much sugar dominates.

Bolton Hotel Artisan Restaurant 21

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Serves 8
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Chocolate Mousse
230g good dark chocolate (such as Monticristi 70%)
4 eggs
1 lemon
30g sugar
15ml brandy (optional, can substitute with a couple of drops of vanilla essence)
For the Mousse
Separate the eggs and lightly break up the whites.
Place the sugar in a pot with a little water and a squeeze of lemon juice; bring to the boil for 1 minute.
Whisk the whites using a mixing machine with the whisk attachment on a high speed setting; continue for five minutes or until stiff peaks are formed.
While the whites are being whisked, gently pour the sugar syrup down near the side of the bowl so that it is incorporated gradually.
Melt the chocolate gently and beat in the yolks and brandy. You may need to add a tablespoon of boiling water if the chocolate seizes at this point.
Fold in the beaten whites in three parts.
Pour into moulds or glasses and chill in the fridge until set.
Serve with your choice of garnish such as wafers, toasted almonds or berries.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Home-Made Egyptian Pastrami

IMG_2470 - Copy (2)Curing your own meat can be very rewarding. It might sound difficult or time-consuming but it isn’t really. There is about an hour of actual work involved maximum and the rest is just sitting back, relaxing and waiting. This recipe uses beef but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use any other red meat such as venison. Curing meat in ways such as this was used as a type of preservation before refrigerators but we still do now because it’s so damn tasty. Once ready make sure you slice as thinly as you can and can enjoy in lots of different ways such as in a sandwich or part of a meat or antipasto platter.

Egyptian Pastrami
Yields 1
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Prep Time
1 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Ingredients
2kg Beef Striploin (or other lean meat)
75g Sea Salt
75g Sugar
100g Garlic (peeled)
50g Fenugreek powder
50g Paprika (smoked variety preferably)
For the beef
Remove all fat and silver skin/sinew from the beef and in two legnth-wise to about the same size as a big salami. Mix together the sugar and the salt and pour over the beef. Place in the fridge covered with cling film for three days, turning the beef each day to ensure that it is evenly cured. After three days wash off the salt and sugar mix from the beef with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the beef in an appropriate dish and place another dish on top. Place on top as much weight you can in the form of maybe full cans, jars, bottles etc, it doesn't matter what it is so long as there is a decent amount of weight pressing down on the beef. Return to the fridge and leave for three days. Check every now and again and if any liquid has come out of the beef then discard the liquid and return the beef back to the fridge.
For the marinade
Take the garlic, fenugreek and paprika and blend in a food processor to a paste. Coat the beef in the paste making sure the beef is 100% covered with a layer about 3mm thick. Hang the beef with some string in a cool, dry place out of the sun for about 10 days. Once ready you can slice the beef and enjoy however you like. The outer coating is edible or you can discard if you like. Keep wrapped with cling film in the fridge or freeze.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Lion huntress Melissa Bachman and wild food

hardcore huntressThis is not a hunting blog, although recently reading the furor that has gone viral on the internet after pictures of “hardcore huntress” Melissa Bachman with her trophy lion, being a chef I got thinking about the ethics involved in where our food comes from and people’s opinions regarding this. It is an interesting debate regarding wild food and the ethics surrounding it. 

I read the comments of one of the articles and this picture has certainly enraged some people and has sparked some pretty intense debate. Lions are officially a “vulnerable species” with much of their range being reduced outside of national and game parks, most likely due to human encroachment. Bachman apparently shot this lion on a game park where people pay up to tens of thousands of dollars to shoot one of the “big five” African game species. There seems to be two distinct arguments from people, one is that she shouldn’t be shooting a lion and the other is that nobody should be shooting anything. As far as I am concerned, yes nobody should be shooting any animal which is at any sort of threat of being endangered and I think most people would agree upon this.   That nobody should be shooting anything… well this I am not sure about. 

I think in our world of convenience a lot of people have a disassociation between food and where it actually comes from, ie meat comes from a living, breathing animal. I think that a boneless, skinless chicken breast in plastic wrap sitting on the pak n sav poulty section is so far removed from what was a few days before a walking breathing and feathered chicken that people have forgotten this fact. If you are a person who eats meat, why then would you be opposed to hunting? If an animal in the wild is shot in the correct place with an appropriate sized rifle and  therefore dies a fast and humane death then what makes this worse than factory farmed animals? red deerPersonally if you asked me what I would rather be re-incarnated into, would it be an animal that was born in captivity, fed an artificial diet possibly full of steroids to make me grow fast, lived my entire (short) life in a cage before being jammed into the back of a truck before being stunned, bled and then processed OR would it be an animal born into the wild and living free before one day being shot in the head, well that’s a no brainer (sorry no pun intended…). If an animal such as red deer which are plentiful (and actually considered a “pest” by the New Zealand Department of Conservation) are shot and humanely killed with none of the meat wasted then what’s the difference between that and the cow that ends up as sirloin steak in the supermarket? Perhaps because it’s a little bit more in your face and shows the reality of the food chain? Perhaps we have come to a point in time where meat from a cow is now more associated with a Quarter Pounder than the thing that eats grass and goes moo?hot dogs Now if you want to see something really disgusting you should google how a hot dog is made, although I doubt anyone would think twice about ordering one at the rugby but they might think twice about looking a cow in the eye and pulling the trigger. But that’s how it works, people have to kill living creatures in order for us to eat them, maybe even after they have been processed, mechanically reclaimed and emulsified with water, colour and preservatives before being made into hot dog or sausage patty shapes and then making their way into everyone’s Sausage McMuffin… Compare that with wild game which has grazed on a natural and superior diet which results in a better flavoured and higher quality meat.

I think the only people who can argue against sustainable, humane and ethical hunting would be vegans. I respect anyone who has an opinion based on moral grounds and sticks to their guns, I can appreciate that. Anyone else, well it’s a bit hypocritical arguing against hunting when it’s just someone else who is doing your killing for you, isn’t it??? 

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Rhubarb Frangipane tart w honey mascarpone and mulled wine syrup

rhubarb frangipane tart

Rhubarb Frangipane tart w honey mascarpone and mulled wine syrup
Serves 10
A nice wintery dessert although you can be creative and replace the rhubarb with any fruit that's in season such as plums, figs or quince.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Rhubarb
6 Rhubarb sticks
1C sugar
1C water
Sweet pastry
-see Chocolate Tart Recipe
Frangipane
120g butter
120g sugar
130g ground almonds
3 eggs
Zest of one lemon
Mulled wine syrup
375ml rhubarb poaching liquor
250ml red wine
1 vanilla pod
2 clove
1/2 orange zest
1 cinnamon quill
Honey mascarpone
300ml mascarpone
75g honey
For the rhubarb
Cut rhubarb into lengths. Make a stock syrup by gently heating the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Cook the rhubarb in the syrup in a low oven covered with tin foil until just under cooked. Remove from liquor. Reserve the poaching liquid for the mulled wine syrup.
For the Frangipane
Make the sweet pastry and blind bake (see chocolate tart recipe). Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the finely grated lemon zest and almonds. Place the rhubarb in the baked pastry case, top with frangipane mix and bake at 160 for 30-35mins turning once, until golden brown and cooked through.
For the mulled wine syrup
Combine all the ingredients together and simmer until reduced by ¾. Should be able to coat the back of a spoon but not “sticky”.
For the mascarpone
Combine together gently. Be careful not to over mix or it will split. You can adjust the sweetness as desired.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Colombo, Sri Lanka

IMG_1803One of the reasons I became a chef was for the prospect of being able to travel. I saw cooking as a way to see the world and get paid while doing it, and so far it is working out reasonably well. I was lucky enough to be invited to judge at the most recent Hotel Asia cooking competitions in Sri Lanka. Having never visited the country before was relishing the opportunity to see the competition entries, meet some new fellow chefs and to hopefully get out and about and see a little bit of the city while I was there.IMG_1756

Sri Lanka has for a long time been in a state of civil war and is just starting to enjoy the positive influence peace time brings. As we were driving along some of the streets in Colombo to and from the event centre where the competitions were held I asked one of the chefs I was with what Colombo was like. He said now it’s great. The country is becoming prosperous again and growing with increased foreign investment and in the next few years the city is going to grow and will be the place to be.IMG_1804IMG_1809

Colombo is an interesting city in a developing country. The poverty gap seems quite large. In the central city there are grand 5 star international hotels but you drive past slums on the way to them during the hour’s drive from the airport. This is the same as many Asian countries although here you feel that the place is still trying to catch up from the mess that is war.  You won’t find the same massive shopping centers as in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore but you will find smaller shopping centers and shops, much the same as in Bangkok or Saigon.

Colombo is on the coast and the temperature although humid, is actually quite nice with the sea breeze. Getting around is easy and there are a lot of tuk tuk’s if you’re not going too far. Although be careful to check out the distance of where you are going on the map first and always agree on the price beforehand or go on the meter. Crime doesn’t seem to be a massive problem unless you’re IMG_1796in the wrong place at the wrong time although unless you’re careful you will probably get ripped off. The best bet is not to accept anyone’s help and to be informed about where/what you want to do and look up how much it will cost before you head out. There are some nice parks in Colombo and some beautiful Buddhist temples with Buddhism being IMG_1807the major religion. The artwork in some of these temples is amazing and it is customary to remove your shoes before entering and to give a small donation for the privilege.

I love Sri Lankan food and for me it is like a mix between Indian and Malay cuisine with beautifully fragrant curries with their own unique curry blends and the frequent use of coconut and rice for both sweet and savoury dishes. If you get a chance do try a hopper. Hoppers are very much the Sri Lankan version of a crepe and my favorite had an egg cracked into it, cooked and folder over and served with a very spicy sambal.IMG_1814

All is calm now and it’s easy to forget the troubles that aren’t that far in the past. Apparently driving around now takes 10% of the time it used to as now the road blocks and bomb checks are no longer there, although there is still a very visible military presence. The hotel I was staying at was nice I remarked to a colleague, a little bit tired but the lobby seemed a bit newer. Yeah that’s because it was bombed a few years ago and the General Manager killed was the response. Walking around the lively city civil war almost seemed worlds away.IMG_1801

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