Christmas dinner is a very special occasion.
As family gathers to celebrate the most wonderful time of year, old family recipes are cooked and special attention is paid to all things culinary.
Christmas is a perfect time to eat the wild game killed throughout the year. Whether it’s wild hog ham or axis deer steaks, it hard to go wrong with wild game around the Christmas dinner table.
The folks over at Broken Arrow Ranch who produced high quality free-range wild version have some interesting things to say about venison and its health values.
“Consumers are often unaware of the tremendous health benefits of free-range venison. The Axis deer and South Texas (Nilgai) Antelope harvested by the Broken Arrow Ranch are naturally low in fat and calories and comparable to chicken breast. They are also excellent sources of protein and iron comparable to beef.”
Let’s check out some of their statistics (Per four ounce serving).
Fat: 2.1 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Cholesterol: 58 milligrams
Fat: 1.9 grams
Cholesterol: 59 milligrams
Whitetail venison is a little higher in fat and calories, but also has more protein.
Fat: 2.1 grams
Protein: 19.5 grams
Cholesterol: 72 milligrams
Now let’s compare those examples to a a couple of staple grocery store meats:
Extra Lean Ground Beef
Cholesterol: 95 milligrams
Skinless Chicken Breast
Cholesterol: 97 milligrams
Let’s take a look at some other wild game nutritional breakdowns from the USDA National Nutrient Database:
Fat: 2 grams
Cholesterol: 69 milligrams
Fat: 2.8 grams
Protein: 18.3 grams
Cholesterol: 55 milligrams
American Bison (Buffalo)
Fat: 1.6 grams
Protein: 18.4 grams
Cholesterol: 53 milligrams
Fat: .9 grams
Protein: 22.8 grams
Cholesterol: 67 milligrams
Fat: 4 grams
Protein: 16 grams
Cholesterol: 64 milligrams
Fat: 2 grams
Protein: 23 grams
Cholesterol: 94 milligrams
Fat: 4 grams
Protein: 28 grams
Cholesterol: 75 milligrams
As you can see wild game stacks up and in most cases betters even the leanest cuts of beef and chicken. Plus, it just plain tastes good. Who wants to be limited by eating chicken, beef and pork the rest of their life when in Texas we have so many wonderful and healthy wild game options.
So now that you know it’s healthy, let’s give you a few recipes to try out this Christmas. We found recipes from around the country that could make your Christmas one to remember.
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TEXAS FISH & GAME Hunting Editor Lou Marullo shares with us a killer recipe for Italian sausage that will work with wild pork or deer.
Hot Italian Sausage:
3 tablespoons salt
3 ½ tablespoons of red pepper
4 tablespoons of crushed or ground fennel seeds
Depending on your own taste, you may want to increase the amount of fennel you use. And if you like your hot sausage REALLY hot, just add some more red pepper. I like to use some garlic powder as well with both the hot and the sweet sausage. A little goes a long way.
Once you make the seasoning, put it in a zip-lock bag and shake it up. Then, spread some of the seasoning on the meat. Mix about a quarter of the seasoning into the meat and use some water to make it easier to mix. Add more and more of the seasoning until it is used up while mixing it VERY WELL into the meat. Tom and I prefer to keep it in bulk form and just make our own patties then freeze them in smaller packages. My brother, Frank, prefers some of his sausage in sausage casings. This is easy to make as well. You just need an attachment to your grinder that the casings can slide on. If you decide to use casings, then know that it is easier if you soak them in water for about an hour first. Then, before you slide the casing on the attachment, force some water through the casing, which makes it much easier to slide it on the attachment.
Now, if you want to make some breakfast sausage, I have a delicious recipe for that as well. Again, this is for every 10 pounds of meat and I use about 50 percent pork with the venison. You need to grind the meat first using a medium or hamburger sized blade on the grinder. Once it is through the first grind, then mix the seasoning in and grind it again. Keep mixing it all the time. So, for an unforgettable breakfast sausage, here is what you need. Enjoy!
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Venison Breakfast Sausage:
3 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons Black Pepper
3 tablespoons Sage
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There are countless recipes out there for wild game delicacies that can make the holidays more enjoyable. Here are just a few of them.
Texas Bandera Smoked Quail
This is a cool one from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
• 6 boneless smoked quail, small dice
• ¼ cup Bronze Rub
• ½ cup diced green chilies, Hatch or Anaheims
• ½ cup goat cheese
• 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
• 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
• ½ cup jicama, small dice
• 1 bunch green onion tops, fine dice
• 2 bunches cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
• 2 limes, juiced
• 1-teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• ½ cup milk
• 16 eggs roll wrappers
• 1-quart canola or vegetable oil
Smoke quail using ½ Bronze Rub. Set aside.
Dice the smoked quail and mix with remaining Bronze Rub.
Combine chilies, goat cheese, shallots, and garlic and reserve.
Mix jicama, green onion, chopped cilantro, limejuice, and salt and reserve.
Whisk the egg with the mil to make egg wash.
In center of each egg roll wrapper, place 1-tablespoon quail mixture, 1-tablespoon goat cheese mixture, and 1-tablespoon jicama mixture.
Fold egg roll wrappers around fillings. Follow the directions on the package. Brush last fold with egg wash to seal.
Deep fry in oil until golden brown. Do this in batches of 4 so the oil doesn’t cool down. The egg rolls will float, so you will have to keep turning them to get even browning. It will probably take a couple of minutes to crisp the outside and heat the innards. If rolls have been refrigerated, increase cooking time to 3 — 4 minutes.
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Barbecue Wild Turkey
This is a great recipe from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
• Wild turkey breast
• ½ c. soy sauce
• ½ c. water
• 2 T. brown sugar
• 2 T. vegetable or olive oil
• ¼ tsp. black pepper
• ½ tsp. crushed garlic
• 1 T. lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
• ¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce (or Frank’s Red
Cut fresh or fully thawed meat into strips 1” long by ¼” thick. Mix other ingredients together, add meat and marinate overnight. Drain meat, keeping the marinade. Grill on low-medium heat for 10 minutes, basting with marinade.
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This one comes from the Department of Natural Resources in Ohio.
• 2½-3 pound venison roast
• Creole butter marinade, injected
• Lawry’s seasoning salt
Inject creole butter marinade into the roast. Add the seasoning salt and pepper and place the roast into a medium sized cooking bag with potatoes. Cook the roast for 1½ hours. Remove the roast from the bag, cut and serve.
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Wild Boar Schnitzel
Another recipe from TPWD
• 2 lbs. raw, boneless loin of boar (makes 6 medallions)
• 2 tablespoons Smoke Rub
• 2 cups breadcrumbs
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1-cup milk
• 1-cup flour
• ½ cup clarified butter
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1-1/2 cups Hudson’s Apple Cider Brandy Sauce (see below)
• 1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
Season the loin with the Smoke Rub and smoke it 1 to 1-1/2 hours until medium rare to medium, an internal temperature of 140º. Slow smoking helps to tenderize and imparts a delicious flavor. Remove from smoker and refrigerate whole.
Grind dried breadcrumbs in food processor. We use crumbs from our pumpkin bread, but a dried French loaf or sourdough is fine.
Slice loin into medallions ½” to ¾” thick. Between plastic wrap, pound with a mallet to an even ¼” thickness. Season the pounded medallions with salt and pepper.
Combine eggs and milk and beat to make egg wash. Pass seasoned medallion through flour, then egg wash and then breadcrumbs.
Heat the clarified butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering (325º — 350º).
Carefully lay in 3 cutlets and cook 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side until the crust is set and golden. Turn and cook the other side for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and hold warm. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
Combine Apple Cider Brandy sauce and julienned apples in a saucepan and warm through. Spoon onto plate and top with schnitzel.
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Crispy Pecan Redfish
And finally, for those who love fish, I had to throw this one in. It is one me and my wife Lisa found years ago searching out ways to cook the red we were catching. It’s a good one.
1-1/2 lbs. redfish fillets
2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4-cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Wash fillets under cold running water and place in a bowl with milk, hot sauce, and salt. Allow to sit 15 minutes at room temperature. Heat 2 Tbs. butter and vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
Drain fillets and dredge in cornmeal. Fry until crispy and brown, about two minutes on a side; do not crowd the pan. Pour grease out of skillet and add remaining butter.
Place over medium heat, add nuts when butter melts. Stir constantly while the nuts brown.
Add parsley and lemon juice, stir to combine. Pour sauce over fillets and serve immediately.
—story by Chester Moore