Hunt Gather Cook: 25 Days of Wild Game Challenge

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me….venison backstrap? Sign me up!

Spurred by a successful hunting season and a full freezer I was inspired to start a #25daysofwildgame challenge to myself and share it with others during the month of December. Though eating wild game for dinner 25 days straight may be the norm for some, I wanted to challenge myself to make new recipes inspired by Hank Shaw’s Hunt Gather Cook series of books and online recipes. This however, is my personal goal and does not have to be yours if you take the challenge. For more on Hank Shaw, visit:  https://honest-food.net/ 

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Adam, Hank Shaw & I- Hotel Emma, San Antonio, TX (Buck, Buck, Moose book tour)

In addition to challenging myself to cook outside my wild game norm (and follow directions which I am not known for), I believe that when you cook wild game you are honoring the harvest. I think about the hard work, the joy, the memories and the lessons learned every time I cook with wild game. This is just something that cannot be replicated by cooking with store bought protein.

I will update this blog post daily with my creations, some more detailed then others. Since I am traveling during the month of December, some of the recipes will not be made by myself, but merely consumed and enjoyed. Luckily, most of that traveling will be hunting related!

I hope you are inspired to start the #25daysofwildgame challenge and push your limits in the kitchen with wild game! Use the hashtag on social media and share your creations.

Day 25: Venison Wellington| red wine reduction | braised carrots

Merry Christmas from the Czech Out Ranch! My 25 days of wild game challenge is over and I feel like I learned a lot. I’m proud that I tried new recipes, new flavors & even made up my own! I’m looking forward to continuing this journey and really enjoying the fruits of the hunt to it’s fullest potential.

Christmas day has always been a special day for me. Eight years ago today Adam asked me to be his wife. We never looked back after that day & I’m thankful how far we’ve come to fulfill our dreams together as husband & wife, but most importantly as best friends.

It’s true, I wasn’t always a hunter. But I sure am thankful & proud to be one today. So much of what I am passionate about stems from my love of wildlife & every unique opportunity to learn, to watch and to sometimes harvest the most organic protein available makes all the hard work worth it. From my first harvest of a pheasant to my first whitetail buck, the tiniest dove to the coastal bull elk in Oregon- hunting has pushed me physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. It has helped me cope, given me goals and made me feel a part of a greater community. In the kitchen in particular is where I honor that animal and give thanks.

“I feel a deep kinship with the animals I hunt; most hunters do. We get to know them in a far deeper way than all but a few other sorts of human: We know their personalities, their foibles, their habits. Where they like to live, what they like to eat, and what they might do in any given situation. Yet most of us take delight in being fooled when a deer or rabbit shows us some new quirk of their behavior. Hunt any animal long enough and it ceases to be the Disneyfied caricature of itself most people know and blossoms into a clever, free-thinking entity – an entity not so different from us.

My mind settled onto this seeming paradox the way a leaf settles onto the forest floor. Sitting in this meadow, in this place, as a hunter and a human animal, it felt serenely right in a way I find wildly incapable of explaining to those who have not experienced the same feeling.” -The Hunter’s Paradox, Hank Shaw

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Day 24: French onion venison soup | garlic croutons

I dreamt this recipe up for Christmas eve & it turned out exactly how I had imagined. The key is to have broiler safe dishes to get the bubbly cheese on top! It was a hit at the Parma family Christmas eve dinner too!

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Day 23: The Hunter’s “Yumm Bowl” | ground venison | jasmine rice & Tillamook cheese

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Cafe Yumm is a household name in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon where it first came to fruition. Their mission is provide a healthy, sustainable alternative to fast food, offering both vegetarian & vegan options to their signature Yumm bowls. They even boasted the first electric car charging station in the nation. Are your hipster senses tingling? And while a Yumm Bowl is basically a glorified taco salad made with local ingredients, it’s the Yumm sauce that’s so addicting. So much so that my mom transported a jar of Yumm sauce over 2,200 miles for me! That’s love. Because hunting plays such a big role in sustainable eating & wildlife conservation, it seems only right to make my own version with wild game…though I don’t think Cafe Yumm will be offering it anytime soon!

Day 22: Venison tacos

Nothing new here, venison tacos are a staple in our house. Today was special though. Today my parents got to see the ranch house for the first time since completion. We celebrated Christmas a little early out of excitement & I made venison tacos. My parents had never showed interest in trying wild game much until today. It made me happy that they tried and enjoyed my “unique” cooking.

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Day 21: Venison wild pork sausage & pepperoni calzone | chunky marinara

The perfect way to reuse leftover sausage from yesterday, these calzones got approval from Kolton, our almost two year old Godson. He’s such a funny, sweet boy. He’s even starting to say Kristin & Adam!

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Day 20: Venison & wild pork sausage ravioli | brown butter balsamic reduction

I pre-made these using leftover wonton wrappers & venison/wild pork sausage that Adam ground himself. It made dinner a breeze tonight!

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Day 19: Goose Goose on Couscous | crispy brussel sprouts | orange miran pan sauce

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Day 17 & 18: Cheater leftovers, travel & wild pork fried rice

I’m in Houston for work the next couple days which makes eating wild game a bit harder. I had wild game leftovers for lunch & stuck strictly to seafood for dinner. I can’t complain. I am proud that Adam continued my culinary challenge for me back at the ranch with smoked pork fried rice with farm fresh eggs. I will get back on track soon!

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Day 16: BBQ wild pork & goat cheese pesto pizza | caramelized red onion & mushroom | homemade crust

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Rainy days are for the ducks! Spent the morning doing chores outside with Jane. Newly adopted hen Macy (left) got her first run of the yard today. She enjoyed hanging with our jumbo Pekin hen London (right).      IMG_20171216_181337_743

Day 15: Wild onion & venison stuffed crispy wontons | organic miso soup

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I used Hank Shaw’s venison potsticker recipe for these. The perfect dinner for my under the weather husband…feel better soon Adam!

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Day 14: Here Piggy Piggy Delight: Smoked hog tenderloin & goat cheese cavatappi | Wild hill country chive

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Day 13: Deer camp venison chili

There is something very rewarding about spending the day completely focused on hunting. Tonight my hunter and I made it happen and she connected on a large mature hill country doe. I was so proud of her! Thankfully, after all the hard work I was rewarded with venison chili courtesy of Justin Dreibelbis, Program Director, Private Lands & Public Hunting for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. To top it off I found some wild onions growing near our deer blind!!

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I instantly could smell these wild onions outside our deer blind Wednesday morning and started digging. I will try to use them in as many dishes I can the next week.

Day 12: Campfire venison sausage with Chef Jesse Griffiths

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Chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due

I’m living the guide life this month. If you told me 10 years ago one day I’d be mentoring hunters I’d have probably laughed. Now I lay here in a cabin at Inks Lake State park & tomorrow morning I’ll be guiding a young adult on her first hunt ever. It’s surreal and exciting. I really love guiding & am thankful for every opportunity. Tonight we had the extra special treat of sharing a campfire dinner made by Chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due restaurant in Austin. It was really great to get to know him better, chat about hunting and I even got some inspiration for my 25 days!

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Day 11: BBQ Wild Pork Taquitos

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Mondays are my busiest day of the week. Work & then late night agility class with my collie Jane. Plus tomorrow I’m leaving to guide a hunt for Texas Parks & Wildlife. Thankfully, I premade these taquitos last night & stuck them in the fridge. Boy, am I glad I did! I’ve never made these before. Super simple & easy, great for a busy week night.

Day 10: Smoked wild hog | Habanero pickled cucumbers | Homemade Boot sauce courtesy of Adam Parma & good friends

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Some things I’m just not meant to mess with. One of those things is smoking meat. When it comes to BBQ, Adam is the pitmaster & I’m ok with that. I do love sharing food with friends though, and today was no exception. Walking the property, showing the farm animals to the kids & eating good food? That’s living the dream!

Day 9- Wild pork tamales two ways | Mexican crema

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Last year around Christmas time I ate the best tamale ever. That tamale was made by Bryan Jones. A Marine Corps veteran & a native of Colorado, Bryan grew up with a big New Mexican influence when it came to cooking. I bugged him incessantly to teach me how to make tamales & today I got my lesson! I have a feeling I’ll be elaborating on the experience in another post soon…Thanks Bryan!

Day 8- Pintail duck risotto | Sweet Cheeks Winery pinot gris

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Day 7- Lone Star Redfish | organic fingerling potato chips | caesar broccoli slaw (A Tex-ified version of Hank’s Classic Fish and Chips)

Adam & I went fishing for red drum this summer with Stewards of the Wild. It just so happens that was the hottest weekend of the year so it’s only fitting we eat it on the coldest, right? It’s actually snowing at the ranch right now! No joke.

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Day 6- Hank Shaw’s Japanese Teriyaki meatballs (venison) | lemongrass & organic turkey broth

It’s actually in the low 40’s here in South Texas and this was a perfect dish to Netflix & chill with!

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Day 5- Leftovers.

Better than the first day. Reheated in a cast iron skillet with more cream. I licked the plate. #Noshame

Day 4- “Chipped beef” venison sausage | egg noodles | toasted sour dough

I remember growing up my mom always made my brother’s favorite food: Chipped beef. Typically I am not a big fan of sausage but wow, this was off the charts delicious. Sauce was basically butter & cream, how could you go wrong? For a similar recipe try Hank Shaw’s Venison Stroganoff

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Day 3- Wild pork backstrap lettuce wraps (Made by Adam Parma)

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My sweet husband had these ready for me when I got home from a long weekend of guiding for the Texas Youth Hunting program. He knows the way to my heart!

Day 2- Venison Chili (Made by Cathleen Barnette)

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This was the day I guided Sadie, 13 year old, & helped her harvest her first Whitetail deer

Day 1- Apple Cider Venison Stew (Made by Cathleen Barnette)

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Girls Have More Fun: Guiding an ALL Girls hunt for the Texas Youth Hunting program

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