January 2018
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

The Quiet Solitude of Open Spaces

Spending time at the hunting camp in winter is a perfect opportunity for relaxing with family and serving simple and comforting meals.

 

The quiet solitude and open spaces of the woods along with quality family time makes staying at the camp a reassuring reminder of what the holidays should be all about.

As early as Thanksgiving weekend, Jason began making our family plans for the upcoming Christmas holiday. He announced we needed to plan on being at the hunting camp for most of the break. We usually spend a lot of time there throughout the winter, but, because of work schedules and having animals to feed, it has been only a few days at a time. This year, Rolley Len and Cason were excited to hear we were going to try to be there longer than just overnight. There is something about living at the camp that is both nostalgic and comforting.

When Jason was growing up, he and his family stayed at the camp for most of the winter break. He, his brother and dad went hunting in the mornings and returned to the camp late, before lunchtime, to rest, eat and warm up. In the afternoons, they left out again to wait for the sun to start going down. Returning after dark, hunger and cold made warming up and eating the first priorities.

What they ate at the hunting camp when he was younger is similar to what we cook now when we take Rolley Len and Cason. Because everyone burns so many calories walking and staying warm, high-calorie dinners and suppers with plenty of carbohydrates and proteins are a necessity. No one in my family comes in from the cold wanting just a sandwich. Whatever we eat has to be satisfying and provide lasting energy.

During hunting season, one of the best meals at the camp or at home is when Jason brings in a deer and we have fresh backstrap. We like it so much we could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is good with everything from biscuits and eggs to cabbage and cornbread. But if you already have ground deer meat prepared, you can’t go wrong with hamburgers, chili, tacos and nachos, or deer sausage. And, of course, kebabs are a fun way to get your veggies in, too. All of the recipes we use are easy enough that Rolley Len and Cason can help with everything.

Although it takes a lot of work and planning to get the hunting camp ready for us to stay for several days, it is definitely worth it. Once we get there with our food and supplies, including many extra-warm layers of clothing, being at the camp can be as relaxing as being at the beach. The quiet solitude and open spaces of the woods along with quality family time makes living at the camp a reassuring reminder of what the holidays should be all about.

Even if you can’t get away for the winter break, you can still spend time with your family sharing food and fellowship, just enjoying one another’s company. Here are a few recipes to try this season at your next gathering. They are nourishing, yet simple to make, so you can have a low-stress, comforting meal with your family and friends. 

 

DEER STEW

In a crockpot, place deer meat you have on hand. Add cut-up potatoes, onions, celery, corn, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper. Stir. Add any other spices, as desired. Turn it on low. Cook until done.

 

FRIED DEER BACKSTRAP

1 (2-pound) venison backstrap, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons hot pepper sauce
Vegetable oil, for cooking
2 eggs
½ cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

In a shallow bowl, place venison slices. Pour in milk and hot sauce. Stir to coat. Cover and marinate for 1 hour.

In an electric skillet, heat vegetable oil to 325°. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Dip venison slices in flour mix, then in egg mix, then back in flour mix. Shake off excess flour. Fry in hot oil until lightly browned on each side, about 3 minutes. Remove with tongs. Drain briefly on paper towels before serving.

 

STEAKHOUSE STYLE VENISON BACKSTRAP

3-5 pounds venison backstrap
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
For pan sauce
3 Tablespoons butter
½ cup beef stock
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic

 Heat oven to 375°. In dish or pan, place backstrap. Set on counter to bring to room temperature. Pat dry just before seasoning well with salt and pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high to high until it just begins to smoke. Add peanut oil and evenly coat surface. Place meat in pan. Sear for 3 minutes on each side, to allow a nice crust to form. Immediately move pan to heated oven. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

 

SEARED AND BAKED DEER TENDERLOIN

1 pound deer tenderloin
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon butter

Heat oven to 350°. In a bowl or pan, place tenderloin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Bring a large pan to high heat. Add butter and melt. Sear tenderloin on each side for 2 minutes. Transfer to oven. Cook an additional 7-10 minutes. Meat should reach a temperature of 145°. Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

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