While some people are readying pumpkin spice enemas and arranging decorative gourds on their dining room table, us woodsy folk are gearing up for what many consider to be the finest season of the year: Fall.
Streamer fishing, venison chili, woodcock, bonfires, goose and new blisters from a newly sharpened axe. Not losing five pounds a day in sweat behind the line. Arguing with my wife about when it’s time to turn on the heat.
Fall brings with it a bounty of food and technique that is inappropriate during the summer months. Anything cooked long and wet, preferably on top of a wood stove is as good as it gets. While I believe any part of the deer can become a steak if it’s cooked rare enough, the neck is perfect for a cast iron dutch oven and jack pine romance (not to be confused with chivalric romance).
A lot of hunters thumb their nose at woodcock and revere grouse as ambrosia. Woodcock has character; grouse is nothing more than wild, flavorless chicken, at least to me. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is in popper form- jalapeno, cream cheese, raspberry glaze. What does that say about it? Good ingredients should warrant little more than salt and heat. Woodcock on the other hand is a lot like squab- fancy French pigeons that are served in fancy French restaurants. I cook it rare and serve it with something sweet- dried figs plumped in port and some wild rice is about all you need. Or more seasonally, roasted apples and bacon. Keep it simple.
And then there is the true ambrosia of Fall: apple cider. I’m not talking about the pasteurized rot-gut swill you buy at the grocery store; real cider should have some sort of scary disclaimer on it warning pregnant women and immunosuppressed people that they shouldn’t drink it. Buy it from a bucolic setting that includes an orchard and most likely sells non-decorative gourds.
I love fall for many reasons (including decorative gourds), but my favorite is the fact that it means a long rest after a longer season and unlike June, plans come together like bread and butter. Friends are friends again.
“What are you guys doing today?”
“Wanna go hunting tomorrow?”
“See you at 5 am.”
Thank you for a great season. If there is anything you want and/or need from us, please feel free to email me. [email protected]
Here is my basic venison jerky recipe- it can be tweaked to your liking.
2 pounds venison
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons FRESHLY ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes- toast them in a dry pan if you want to take this seriously
1 tablespoon molasses
Place the meat in the freezer for 1 hour making it easier to cut.
Slice the meat with the grain as thinly as you can.
Mix brine ingredients in whatever you will be marinating it in.
Place meat strips in brine and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.
Remove meat from the brine and drain on cooling racks. Discard the brine.
When the meat is dry place it inside a food dehydrator and leave at least 12 hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, put the meat directly on oven racks and heat your oven to the lowest setting, the door propped open with an empty can of Busch Light.
Store in an air tight container.