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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

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Everywhere you look, there are recipes for turkey. How to roast them, stuff and serve them. What to do with the leftovers and so on. I am thinking about "other" nice birds and some fresh game meat. It is hunting season, so what to do with all these pheasant, duck, quail or dove? How about some venison or elk steaks? Growing up, the only cuts of venison or other game animals we had were not the best parts. Usually nothing could be done with them but soups and stews. My mother said her brothers brought home rabbit a lot, some squirrels. Later when I had my first fresh venison steak it was magic. However, the next time I had venison it was prepared by someone else, it tasted gamey and just awful. I was turned off of game meats for a long time. Most poultry, game birds and venison do better when they have been marinating for awhile. For a marinade, there must be an acid to break down the fibers in meat so it's tender. Usually a wine or vinegar does the trick. It needs to be balanced with something else such as herbs and a little oil, or a sweet taste like fruit. Then, of course, there is "the other red meat," buffalo. No gamey taste there, it tastes more like the best beef you ever had. Hardly any fat, tasty and nutritious at the same time. If you've never tried it, get ground buffalo and use it in a meatloaf or a chili just as you would ground beef, or try this:

Baked Buffaloaf

1 pound ground buffalo

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1/2 cup water

1/4 hickory or mesquite flavored ketchup

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup crushed walnuts

1/2 cup minced onion

Dash each: Salt and pepper, parsley, ground sage, nutmeg

Using a large bowl, put in bread crumbs, salt, pepper, sage and nutmeg. Add eggs and water, mix and let stand for a few minutes. Now add the meat, carrot, walnuts and onion and blend all gently. Make a mound in a small baking dish and spread with the ketchup. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Check for doneness.

Eat Pheasant-ly

2 pheasant, cleaned and quartered

4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper

1 cup of flour to dredge

2 cups of beef broth

1/2 cup of wine, red or white

1/4 cup of currant jelly

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Dredge the pheasant pieces in the flour and salt and pepper them. Melt butter in fry pan and brown the birds. Place them in a foil lined baking pan. Whisk together the broth, wine and jelly and pour over the pheasant. Cover with lid or foil and put in a 350 degree oven for one hour. Check at this time and add some water at this time and reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another hour. Check for doneness. Serve with a slotted spoon.

If you have small birds like quail or dove, sprinkle them with seasoned salt. Then soak them overnight in one beaten egg and a 1/2 cup of milk. Drain, then dip in pancake flour mix and fry in hot oil for about 10 minutes. Duck is a whole different story, so don't try this method with them.

Seared Venison Tenderloin

1 1-pound venison tenderloin

1 large garlic clove

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup beef broth

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup black currant jelly

Grind the rosemary and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to make a paste. Pat the tenderloin dry, then rub with this paste and pepper generously. Cover and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Now use the rest of the olive oil in a cast iron pan to brown the tenderloin, turning once. This will take about five minutes. Put the cast iron skillet in the oven and roast for about 12 minutes. Now remove and put the meat on a plate and cover tightly with foil. Put the skillet back on the stove burner and deglaze with the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until thickened. Cut meat in quarter-inch slices and serve with the sauce.

Notes and Tips

*There are a few things I like to keep handy in the kitchen. They are clothespins (great for closing bread and plastic bags quickly), a single edge razor blade for many things, but especially removing labels, scissors and rubber bands, both of whom find many ways to make themselves useful.

*Why marinate meat? You need some kind of acid (lemon juice, wine, vinegar) to soften tissue. Acid reduces the time it takes for heat to convert collagen to a gelatin. Time is the key. Some meats are ready with just a few hours of marinating, other game or meats may take even days.

*It seems odd, but marinating some meats at room temperature works faster than refrigeration. This is because the lower temperature slows the chemical process that must take place to tenderize and infuse the meat with flavor. To be effective, you must cover the meat completely so you may need more marinade than you think.

*Some e-mail facts:

The electric chair was invented by a dentist.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

On average, people fear spiders more than they do death.