This is a good recipe for entertaining and an impressive way to cook venison. The kumara adds a buttery richness to the dish and the earthiness of the mushrooms compliments the flavour of the meat well. If you wanted to save time and did not want to use the pastry aspect of the dish you could simply grill the venison and add some cream and meat stock to the mushrooms for a simple mushroom sauce.
Venison Wellington with mushrooms and kumara mash
600g venison back strap
2 sheets puff pastry
Splash of milk
1/2tsp dried thyme or fresh
1tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Splash milk or cream
Finely dice the onion, mushrooms and garlic by pulsing them all together in a food processor. Place in a pot along with the butter and thyme and cook out on a low to moderate heat until everything has softened and the liquid has evaporated, about 15mins. Add the vinegar and cook for another 2mins. Season to taste with salt and pepper then set aside to cool.
Peel the kumara and cut into even sized pieces. Starting in cold, salted water boil the kumara until nice and soft. Drain in a colander then return to the pot and cook over a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to remove any excess water. Mash the kumara until nice and smooth. Melt the butter along with a little milk or cream and fold through the kumara mix. If the mash is too stiff add some cream or milk to thin it down and then season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Trim the venison back strap of any silver skin by inserting a sharp pointed knife (such as a boning knife) under one end of the silver skin then with the blade angled upward remove the silver skin off in strips cutting off as little meat as possible. Pat the meat dry with a kitchen towel if required and season with salt and pepper. In a very hot pan with a little oil, sear the back strap until nicely browned on each side but not at all cooked. Set aside.
Place the venison on a pastry sheet (you may need to cut your venison in half to fit depending on the size of your pastry sheets). Spoon some of the cold mushroom mix on top of the venison so the entire top of the meat is covered and then with one edge of the pastry brushed with milk so that it sticks, roll the venison and the mushroom together in the pastry and pinch the edges. Brush the pastry with milk.
Bake the venison Wellington on an oven tray lined with grease proof paper in a 200C oven for 10-15mins for rare to medium rare depending on the thickness of your back strap. Cooking beyond medium rare will make your venison dry. Once cooked remove from the oven and poke a few small holes in the base of the pastry to allow any resting juices to escape and rest on an oven rack for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with some hot kumara mash and a green salad or seasonal veg along with Branston pickle if desired.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
This recipe and is a home version of fast food using wild game. It’s one of my favourite ways to eat rabbit as it locks in the moisture and flavour so make sure you don’t skip the brining process as this is critical to ensuring a moist result. If you don’t have all the ingredients to make the brine you can use just salt and water and that is better than nothing. The smoked chilli mayo recipe uses smoke essence which is available from specialty shops or you can replace the chilli powder and tabasco with canned Chipotle chillies which will give the mayo a lightly smoky flavour.
Southern Fried Rabbit with Smoky Chilli Mayo
500ml apple cider
3 star anise
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 rabbits (about 1kg each)
1 whole egg
1tsp tabasco sauce
1 small garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon
375ml canola oil
125ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4tsp Chilli powder
Dash smoke essence
2Tbs cayenne pepper
1tsp ground black pepper
1tsp garlic powder
1/4C corn flour
Mix everything apart from the rabbit together and stir well to dissolve the salt. Take your skinned and gutted rabbit and using a sharp pointed knife remove any membrane and silver skin from the outside of the meat as this will go tough once cooked. Halve the now trimmed rabbit and cut each half through the bone into 6 pieces depending on how big you’d like them (I like to get 12 pieces out of every rabbit). Submerge the rabbit in the brine for about 12 hours or overnight.
Combine all ingredients except the oil and smoke essence in a food processor or blender. Slowly add the oil with the food processor running to emulsify the oil and create the creamy mayo. Add smoke essence to taste and more tabasco/chilli powder if more heat is desired. Add warm water at the end for consistency if the mayo is too thick.
Combine in a large bowl all the ingredients except the milk and stir to mix all the spices evenly through the flour mix. Remove the rabbit from the brine and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Toss in the milk, shake off the excess and transfer to the flour mix. Toss the rabbit in the bowl of flour and leave for up to 2 hours making sure to give it a toss every now and again. This is to build up a good thick flour coating on the outside of the rabbit.
Fry in vegetable oil or lard at 160C for about 10mins (depending on the size of your rabbit pieces) or until golden brown and just cooked through. If you coating starts to get too dark before the middle of your rabbit is fully cooked you can remove the rabbit from the oil and finish it in an oven set to 150C for a few minutes until cooked through.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
This recipe calls for pork shoulder which is a tougher secondary cut of meat and benefits from a slow, wet cooking method. You can get canned chipotle chilies from the supermarket and can serve the burger with a nice fresh coleslaw. Wild pork is great here, however any pork could be used but stick to a tough cut such as shoulder or belly.
Chipotle pulled pork burger
1.5kg (or there about) bone in pork shoulder
2 shallots (or 1 small onion)
6 cloves garlic
1Tbs smoked paprika
3Tbs brown sugar
100g can chipotle (use ½ to 1 whole can depending on how hot you want it)
250g can tomato paste
3Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2C water (use 1.5C if using an oven instead of a slow cooker)
1Tbs chopped rosemary (or dried herbs)
1/2tspn white pepper
500g (about 2) cucumbers
1.5C white wine vinegar
1Tbs wholegrain mustard
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and rub all over the pork. Place the pork along with any left-over marinade in your slow cooker and cook for about 8 hours or place in a roasting tray covered with tin foil and bake at 150 for 4-5hrs until tender and falling off the bone. If there is any liquid left then place in a pot and simmer until it thickens. Once cool enough to touch shred the meat and mix with any remaining cooked marinade and reduced cooking liquid.
Slice the cucumber and onion and toss with the salt in a bowl. Cover the cucumber salt mix with cold water and leave for an hour. Drain the salt water in a colander. Combine the remaining ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Pour the hot vinegar mix over the cucumber and onions then leave to cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
“Here is a technique that gets a pretty good result, about as close as you can get to looking like a store bought duck. Plucking a duck can be a pretty laborious job but this technique is pretty quick and easy and means you get to enjoy the whole bird and its crispy skin.”
You will need:
A big pot to boil water
A bucket of cold water
Find a place where you don’t mind making a bit of a mess and get your knives sharpened and ready along with a decent sized chopping board sitting on a wet towel to stop it from moving round on you. One of the first things you will want to do is get your big pot on to boil and add your paraffin wax to it to melt. Apparently National brand candles are made of paraffin wax which is certified food grade.
Remove the wings.
Remove the wing and tail feathers. The easiest way is to pull these straight out, with the grain.
All the other feathers are easiest if pulled out against the grain. Don’t completely pluck the duck, what we want to do is leave a covering of the down feathers so we can remove them with the hot wax.
Holding your semi plucked duck (guts still intact) by the head and feet, dip it slowly into a pot with the melted wax for a few seconds then transfer to a bucket of cold water. Leave the duck there for about 5 minutes in order for the wax to set rock hard.
Now that the wax is hard and has stuck to the feathers you can start at the neck and carefully peel it off the duck, removing all the feathers in the process. Once your duck has all the feathers and wax removed you can go ahead and remove the head and feet. If there are any small down feathers left here and there they can be singed by a quick go with a blow torch.
To gut the bird remove the tail by cutting straight through just past where the bones stop. Reach into the cavity and pull out all the contents being sure to remove the lights (lungs) which are found at the neck end of the bird on either side of the backbone. Give it a good rinse inside and out with cold running water, inspect for any shot and pat it dry. Now it’s ready to cook.
This recipe utilises the whole duck and because of the slow method of cooking in fat you end up with a tender, moist and flavoursome result. I recommend giving the Brussel sprouts a go as bacon always makes things better but if you don’t feel like making the accompaniments then serving with some nice buttery mash potatoes is the way to go.
Duck confit on caramelised Brussel sprouts, bacon and grain mustard with bread sauce and fig chutney
1 Duck, cleaned
Rendered duck fat
1 bulb Garlic
6 Juniper berries (or 1 Star anise)
1 tsp Peppercorns
1/2C Rock salt
12 sprigs Thyme
3 Bay leaves
400g Brussel sprouts
1Tbs Wholegrain mustard
4 Rashers streaky bacon (or 2 rashers Middle bacon)
4Tbs Brown sugar
1 Whole clove
4 Whole peppercorns
1 Clove garlic
1 Bay leaf
1 Sprig thyme
2 Slices white toast bread (crusts removed)
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and white pepper
Place all the confit salt ingredients except the salt itself into a food processor or using a mortar and pestle coarsely grind together. Add the salt and briefly grind together until well mixed. Cut the duck completely in half along the back bone and rub the salt mix all over and into both sides of the duck. Cover and leave in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. After no more than 12 hours rinse off all the salt mix under cold running water and pat the duck dry on a kitchen towel. Place the duck in an oven proof dish and cover completely with rendered duck fat, cover with baking paper then tin foil and bake at 110C for 2-4 hours until the meat easily falls away from the bone. As long as the duck is covered in the fat it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months. To serve, drain the duck out of the fat (keep the fat for next time or for roasting potatoes), then roast in a hot oven to crisp up the skin.
Cut the Brussel sprouts in half lengthwise and cook in salted boiling water until they’re just cooked; about 5 minutes. Drain and keep to one side. Chop up the bacon and fry in a little oil for 1 min. Add to the pan the Brussel sprouts, butter, brown sugar and mustard and fry over a moderate heat until nice and brown. Season with a bit of salt to taste (keeping in mind the bacon is already a bit salty).
Gently heat the milk, clove, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in a pot. Chop the onion into small pieces and roughly smash the garlic with the back of your knife. Gently cook the onion and garlic in a pot with the butter for about 4-5 mins until softened but not brown. Pour the hot milk mix on top of the onions and garlic and simmer gently for 10mins to infuse the flavours. Strain the flavoured milk into a pot, discard the onions and herbs etc and add the bread to the milk mix. Simmer for 3-4mins. Blend with a stick blender until smooth or leave chunky for a rustic sauce. Season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the crispy confit duck with the Brussel sprouts and bread sauce piping hot along with some nice fruit or fig chutney.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
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.
Wild venison, blue cheese and mushroom pie
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!
1kg Diced, trimmed Venison shoulder (or neck)
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
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/
This 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? Personally 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? 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???