WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Dishing on this season of feasts

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Dishing on this season of feasts


Next Thursday brings us another Thanksgiving Day.

For myself and many of my friends, it is also a special day to hunt. For me, it was always a morning hunt for pheasants and upland game when I was younger. Then I got hooked on deer hunting and it has been that way ever since.

We would hunt Thanksgiving morning and then return home for the traditional turkey dinner, although in my younger years sometimes it might be a wild game feast for Thanksgiving.

Yes, I do know that there are some who turn their noses up at the thought of eating wild game, and that is their choice. However, when a wild game dinner is hosted by any local organization, trying to get a ticket for the event it is virtually impossible.

While I like just about all wild game — and believe me when I tell you, the list is long — my favorite is venison (deer meat). And as my success in deer hunting grew, so did my desire to try different venison recipes.

If you are a successful deer hunter, the first thing you want to do is get the deer properly field dressed and cool down the meat.

If the weather is cold, this may not be a problem, but if the weather is on the warm side, you might want to get it to a professional meat processor like Cichowski’s Custom Cuts on Collie Brook Road in East Hampton (860-267-0857).

They have been doing my deer for years and I have NEVER had a complaint. Your meat will come wrapped and labeled, ready for the freezer.

I generally like to have all of my venison boned out and then made into frying steaks, stew meat, a small roast or two. The loins and tenderloin are kept for special meals and ground hamburger.

NOTE: Some folks like some fat thrown in with the ground meat because it holds the patties together better, but I have found the just plain ground venison works well for me. It keeps longer in the freezer without the fat added to it and I use the ground venison solely for chili and meatloaf.

And speaking of venison chili and meatloaf, I have a couple of recipes I’d like to share with you. Over the years I have found that keeping my venison recipes simple seems to work best.

I mentioned the loin and tenderloins being special, and this recipe might make them even more special. I call it “Brother Paul’s Special” that I got from my “kid” brother Paul, who resides in Vermont with his wife Pat. (Since he is younger, he is my “kid brother,” right?)

You will need about a pound of the tenderloin boneless chops sliced into ½-inch dollops (you could also use some tender frying steak pieces), 1 package of Original Pork Chop Shake ‘n’ Bake, a cup of milk and olive oil.

Place the venison in a bowl and pour the milk over it. Put the olive oil into a frying pan. Use the Shake ‘n’ Bake bag to coat the meat and place in the frying pan.

Do not overcook .The meat should be pink when ready to eat and it does not take long in a frying pan.

Over the years, I have served this to friends who swore that they never had any good tasting venison — until they tried this recipe. And then they asked for seconds.

It is simple enough and, in fact, my Darlin Edna and I will be feasting on this recipe after I finish this column. Oh yes, the ladies like this recipe, too.

Another favorite over the years has been Venison Meatloaf. I was reminded of it a couple of years ago when I attended one of those fabulous game dinners put on by the Hunter’s Ambulance family.

One of the main courses was a venison meatloaf, and when I mentioned that it had a familiar flavor I was told that it was this recipe. So here it is for you to enjoy. You will need 2 pounds of ground venison, ½ cup of Italian bread crumbs, 1 egg, ½ cup of ketchup, 1 envelope of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, 1 teaspoon of Gravy Master and 3 strips of bacon.

Mix all of the ingredients but the bacon in a large bowl and then place it in a lightly oiled baking pan (I use a bread loaf pan). Place bacon strips on top of loaf and bake at 350 degrees for one hour (approximate time).

For a little added flavor, try drizzling a little Gravy Master on top of the loaf before placing it in the oven.

This should be served with baked potato, a green vegetable like green beans, and stewed tomatoes. 

Should there be any leftovers, Venison Meatloaf makes a great sandwich served warm on toast.

Here is a favorite side dish of just about any venison meal. I call it “Potatos Brannigan” after an Irish buddy who left us many years ago by the name of John Brannigan. Over the years, it became a deer camp favorite.

You need one large potato per serving, half a medium onion per serving and some vegetable oil to fry them in.

Scrub the potatoes with the skin on and slice them for frying. Peel the onion and slice for frying.

I fry them in a cast iron frying pan. Cover the pan as the potatoes and onions are cooking, giving them an occasional stir. When the potatoes are done, mash them down with a spatula and brown them to the desired brownness and serve.

Don’t worry about leftovers. There won’t be any.

Hey, I’ve got some more, so stay tuned. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.

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