February 2017
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Don’t go hungry ... when you’re on the hunt!

   

Cason called the breakfast casserole “pizza” and dipped his in ranch dressing. To make it more pizza-like, you can line your casserole dish with a pre-made pizza or pie crust.

 

These hearty breakfast ideas will keep you going all day.

Did you know, depending on how physically active you are, you can burn anywhere from 100-340 calories an hour while you are hunting for your next meal? Burning calories on a quest for squirrel, duck, rabbits, hogs or deer can be great exercise, even if you aren’t trying to lose weight. But those calories represent energy used; so hunters, especially children, need to be sure they replace what they have lost during their hunt.

When you are deep in the woods or swamp, you definitely don’t want to have hunger distracting you, your friends or family from having a successful hunting trip. Even if you eat an early breakfast, by 10 a.m., a growling stomach may take over and get in the way of your goals. When planning your meals at the camp, make sure you don’t deprive yourself.

Meals need to be high in protein and carbohydrates. Fats don’t have to be excluded, but you should use them according to your own personal nutrition needs. The key is eating foods that will provide or restore the most energy you will lose while hunting. For meals, there are endless combinations of meat, potatoes, bread, pasta and cheese that are sure to create dishes to satisfy everyone. One of the easiest ways to combine these ingredients is by finding simple recipes for making casseroles or one-dish meals such as in a Dutch oven.

For us, we usually have bigger, heartier meals that will give us extra energy and keep everyone satisfied longer. The kids will still want something sweet, but they don’t snack and graze like they might at home.

During one of our last stays at the camp, we had a late morning meal of breakfast casserole, tater tot casserole, crispy bacon, pancakes, cereal and a mountain of monkey bread. Any one of these would be filling, but, if you are going hunting, you may not eat again until much later in the day. One of the great things about most of these foods is that leftovers can be eaten hot or cold and still be just as good as when they were fresh.

Whether you eat at home or at a hunting camp, here are a few hearty recipes to try. The casserole recipes are especially good to experiment with to create new combinations. It won’t take long to discover what high-energy recipes your family likes best and which ones will keep hunger from ending the hunt early.

 

BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

 

Breakfast Casserole and Tater Tot Casserole

1 pound spicy deer or pork sausage
1 teaspoon mustard (or mustard powder)
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups milk
6 pieces bread, toasted and cubed
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, brown sausage. Drain.

In a large bowl, mix mustard, salt, eggs and milk. Add sausage, cheese and bread; stir together. Pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-55 minutes. Remove foil, lower temperature to 325°. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Lower oven heat to keep casserole warm until hunters return. Do not overbake it and cause it to dry out. Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Note: I learned how to make this recipe while taking Home Economics in high school. Because of limited class time, we would prepare it one day and then bake it the next. You can do the prep a day ahead at home to save time in the morning. Just cover the casserole dish and place in the refrigerator overnight.

 

TATER TOT CASSEROLE

2 cups milk
2 eggs
½-1 teaspoon salt, to taste
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
4-8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
½-1 pound deer or pork sausage, browned and drained
About 2 pounds tater tots
¾-1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar (to taste), divided in half

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine milk, eggs, salt, pepper and onion powder.

Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer sausage on bottom of dish. Layer tater tots and half the cheese. Pour milk mixture over entire casserole. Cook for 35 minutes. Add remaining cheese to top.

Note: This recipe calls for both sausage and bacon, but if you are serving it with the breakfast casserole, you can always leave the sausage out and double-up on bacon instead.

 

DUTCH OVEN PORK CHOPS AND POTATOES

2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 wild hog pork chops
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
¾ cup water, divided
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Place pork chops in heated Dutch oven. In a separate pan, melt butter. In a bowl, mix butter, bread crumbs and ¼ cup water. Pour mixture over pork chops and coat. Place potatoes on top of pork chop mixture. Pour soup and remaining water over top. Bake for 1 hour at about 350°.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.