RECIPES - for Hunters (page 4 of 5)

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Recipe in this column:  

Pike's Peak Pepperoni


From the forest to the table

by Sally D. Ketchum

Venison Jerky to Venison Wellington


Bye Baby Bunting,

Daddy’s gone a hunting,

To get a little rabbit skin,

To wrap his Baby Bunting in…


These days, Daddy isn’t the only one in the family dressed in camouflage. Big brother, middle brother and sister are in the hunt, too.  There’s more. Mom isn’t always home tied to the stove. She’s driving the camper with the ATV on its trailer. The popularity of hunting is clear in a tale going around: A Montana hunter visited his friend in his Michigan home. “Wow,” said the visitor, looking a variety of taxidermy and antlers, said, “I wish my wife would let me put my stuff up in the house.”


His host replied, “Well, these trophies are my wife’s.”


Hunting regulations are complex, but in a party of experience hunters, under special conditions, youngsters as young as nine can hunt legally in Michigan, and youngsters do so. Northern Michigan teens may not know what day of the week Christmas falls on, but they know exactly when school is out for the start hunting. (Teens who don’t take to the woods hunt at the mall.)  There are lots of funny tales about deer camps, some ribald; but they’re for laughs. Lore aside, most hunters are serious sportsmen and very careful, observing not only state regulations, but also codes of ethics developed through the spirit, sportsmanship and camaraderie of hunters. 


Yes, hunting has become a family affair. Fathers take pride in teaching the sport to their children.  Heather Pederson, now a Wisconsin teacher, grew up in a northern Michigan family of serious hunters and hunted as a teen. Pederson didn’t shoot the first deer she saw.  Instead, she was patient enough to wait for a prize. Her first deer was an 8-point whitetail.


While hunting is a sport, by far most hunters hunt for food and love game on the table. Some hunters are known to have three or four freezers full of game. However, those who hunt only for sport have good options, like giving game to food banks and other charities, if friends don’t claim it first. Hunters seeking worthy charities may contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for information about Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger. The organization feeds thousands of needy people every year.


Recipes, whether simple (Venison Jerky) or grand (Venison Wellington), are easy to find.  The general rule is that the game and the cut of it should make be accommodated in the recipe.  There is very little fat or marbling in venison, and it loses moisture quickly in the heat of the oven or pan. For venison (deer, antelope, elk, red stag and such), the old axiom is, “Cook tender meat quick and dry. Cook tough cuts long and wet.”  Thus tender cuts like saddle, loin, tenderloin or hind leg should be cooked over high heat for a short time. Modern cookbooks recommend broiling, grilling and also “cooking wet” by sautéing. Tender cuts are best cooked rare or medium rare. For example, four venison medallions (about 6 ounces each) are good seared over very high heat for only 2 to 3 minutes a side. (Horseradish or a horseradish sauce is a nice accompaniment.) Tougher cuts like shoulder and neck go into stews and soup and into dishes like tacos and Swiss steak. Marinades help tough cuts. Venison steaks marinated in citrus juices and slow cooked are an easy answer to tough meat. 


Like other game recipes, venison recipes often include berries, especially juniper, cranberries and lingonberries, dried cherries and other fruits.  Carrots, celery and onions, the vegetables in a base mixture called mirepoix, are also frequent ingredients in game recipes, although usually not combined in a mirepoix base.


Have you ever heard of Moo Burger?  You have now.  Hunters in the northwest have added “moo burger” to their jargon. Broadly speaking,” burger” is any type of ground meat.  Ground venison combined with other things, usually meats, but also eggs, is also called “burger.” Moo burger is a combination, usually about half and half, or ground venison and ground beef.  These additions make venison more moist, and enhance its taste and also to make it easier to cook with regard to sticking to pans. For instance, fat ground beef (chuck), ground pork, bulk pork or Italian sausage and eggs can be added to venison.  These combinations (and “Moo Burger,”) become base ingredients for many recipes.  Burritt’s Fresh Market’s owner, Ken Burritt, says he loves the name, “Moo Burger, but in the meat industry terms are specific and have exacting definitions.”


Those successful in the hunt, but don’t care to process the deer can find meat markets who will. Deerings Meat Market, for instance, will process the hunters’ venison into steaks, chops, stew meat, sausages like bratwurst, summer and polish sausages and jerky, said Paul Deering, grandson of his namesake and founder of the market.  Maxbaurer Market will also process venison for hunters.


During the season, a steady stream of hunters from down state and from other states, too, crowd on I-75, heading north, hoping for a trophy. But, even those who don’t get their deer (and non-hunters, too) can still enjoy venison and other game from specialty stores and online. Burritt’s Fresh Market sells frozen venison and more exotic meats, like elk and ostrich, if ordered at least a week (preferably sooner). It also stocks frozen quail, rabbit, pheasant duck, and duck breast. Chutneys are often served with game. Dan Hummel carries several at East Bay Market, Major Grey’s, Cross & Blackwell’s and an Apricot-Chardonnay. Teri Burritt suggests a recipe for roasted venison loins and tenderloins stuffed with Baur-MacKenzie Cherry Chutney, also available at Burritts. 


November is game time in Michigan, and that doesn’t always mean football.


Sally Ketchum writes and lives near prime hunting territory in northern Michigan.

Predictions for the white tail harvest this year are similar to last year’s: 415,000 deer. Expected hunters this year number 725,000 in Michigan alone. Ketchum can be reached at or through The Record-Eagle.


Pike’s Peak Pepperoni

4 pounds ground venison or elk

4 teaspoons ground anise

4 teaspoons mustard seed

4 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons hickory smoked salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons curing salt

Mix ground meat with all the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, mixing meat every 8 hours

Divide meat into 4 parts. Roll each into a log and place on the broiler pan to collect fat drippings.  Bake at 225 degrees for 4 hours. Cool before serving. (These freeze beautifully, are good on pizza or to serve with crackers.)

--“Crème de Colorado”

Recipes in this column:  

Venison Wellington

Venison and Cherry Ragout with Spaetzle

Venison Loin with Cherry Chutney 

Venison Tenderloin with Cherry Chutney

Traditional Venison Jerky

Mark’s Venison Marinade



Venison Wellington

4 6-ounce medallions of venison loin

2 cups grated mushroom caps

1 cup red wine (merlot)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic

4 slices Gruyere Cheese (or Swiss)

1 sheet puff pastry

1 shallot chopped fine

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg

1-teaspoon vegetable oil


Clean silver skin and all fat from loin, if necessary. Cut into 6-ounce portions. Season and grill both sides lightly. Place in cooler.  In a pan with oil, sauté mushrooms, red wine, garlic and shallots. Reduce until most of the liquid is gone. Place in cooler to let cool.


Cut puff pastry into even pieces, making sure the pastry dough will wrap the 6-ounce fillets. Lay pastry dough flat, and then add a layer of cheese and a layer of mushroom duxelle mixture (mushrooms, shallots and seasonings). Put the tenderloin on top of all. Pull the corners of the pastry up and over.  If the pastry does not stick together, wet it with a little water. You can also stretch the pastry to reach and fit. You want to seal the pastry well enough so that no juice leaks out. Turn the Wellington over so that the smooth side is up. Brush with beaten eggs and place in a baking pan with baking spray.  Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Slice in half and serve with béarnaise sauce or your favorite sauce.

Serves 4.


--Chef Dave Slater, The Blue Bird of Leland


Venison and Cherry Ragout with Spaetzle


6 pounds venison, cut in 1-½ inch cubes

Flour and cracked pepper for dredging

1/3 cup olive oil

1 large onion, cut medium dice

6 celery ribs, diced

12 carrots, diced

12 garlic cloves

1 quart dry red wine

½ cup tomato paste

½ cup fresh orange juice

20 juniper berries, in cheesecloth

1 quart beef stock

½ cup brandy

½ cup dried tart cherries


Dredge the venison in flour and pepper an, in a casserole, sauté a few of the pieces at a time in the olive oil, until well browned.  Remove the meat, add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic cloves to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat until softened and starting to brown. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE GARLIC!  Stir in the wine, tomato paste, orange juice, and juniper berries.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.  Add the stock and venison pieces and return to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 ½ hours, or until venison is tender.

Stir in the brandy and dried cherries, cook briefly to evaporate the alcohol, and serve with spaetzle or pasta of choice.


--Harlan “Pete” Peterson, chef/owner, Tapawingo

Venison Loin with Cherry Chutney 


1 venison loin, boneless, 2-4 pounds

Baur-MacKenzie Cherry Chutney as needed


Crumbled blue cheese or feta as desired

Make a pocket in the meat (deep, but not through) and fill with cherry chutney.  For added flavor and moisture, lay a few pieces of raw bacon over the top of the loin while roasting. 


Roast, uncovered; and, for the last 10 minutes of cooking time, remove the bacon and top with crumbled blue or feta cheese.  Serve additional cherry chutney to pass. We recommend a 350 degree oven and 20 minutes per pound, but use a meat thermometer.


Note: Baur-MacKenzie Cherry Chutney is made with Northern Michigan cherries and traditional East Indian spices.


--Teri and Ken Burritt


Note: For a 3-5 pound loin The New Joy of Cooking recommends 110-115 degrees for rare, about 7 minutes per pound; 120-125 for medium rare, about 8 minutes per pound; 130-135 for medium, abut 10 minutes per pound. Let the roast rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Venison Tenderloin with Cherry Chutney


1 8-10 ounce venison tenderloin*

Cherry chutney as needed

Blue cheese or feta as desired

Cut a pocket in the meat, but not through. Fill the pocket with cherry chutney.

Roast at 450 degrees and use a meat thermometer. Roast until it reads 140 degrees for rare. This will be very short time.


*Ken Burritt was kind enough to explain that this recipe calls for the true tenderloin, the small piece in what most people call the tenderloin. That piece is actually the back piece that is outside of the rib cage. On a steer the inside tenderloin is about 12-15 pounds; on a deer the inside tenderloin weighs only 8 –10 ounces, and the outside loin weighs about 3-4 pounds.

--Teri and Ken Burritt


For Tenderloin: 6-7 minutes per pound, 120 degrees for medium.  NOTE: Tender cuts of venison are usually preferred rare.

Traditional Venison Jerky


4 pounds venison

2 tablespoons salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon paprika

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon curry powder


Heat oven to 150 degrees. Slice the venison into 2 x 8 inch strips, ¼ inch thick. Cut away all fat and gristle from the meat. Combine seasoning in a saltshaker. Pound meat with a mallet and, as you pound, generously sprinkle with the seasonings.  Place the strips directly on the oven rack. And leave until all the moisture is gone, usually about 7-12  hours.  The strips should be dry as leather, but supple enough to bend without breaking.

--Eileen Clark, a Montana hunter

Mark’s Venison Marinade


(Good for a leg roast)

2 cups red wine

½ cup red vinegar

20 juniper berries

4 bay leaves

5 cloves

5 cloves garlic, light smashed

20 peppercorns

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 (6-8 pound) leg of venison

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Place marinade and venison leg in a large plastic bag and seal tightly.

Marinate, surrounded by liquid, 24-72 hours.


--Mark Bittman, “How to Cook Everything”



Recipes in this column:

Venison Fondue

Noisettes of Venison with Rosemary and Orange

Sweet and Sour Venison Meatballs

Venison Fondue

½ venison per person

2 cups peanut oil

Trim and cut the venison into 1 inch cubes. Heat peanut oil in fondue pot (or chafing disk, electric frying pan, etc.) to boiling. Remove from stove and place the pot on the fondue stand in the middle of the table.

Each guest places their own meat cube on their fondue forks, dips it into the hot oil to cook it. Very rare takes only a few seconds. The meat can then be dipped into a sauce. Two commercially good sauces are horseradish sauce and A-1 or a hot mustard.

(Note: Identify each guest’s fork by tying colored treads to the handle, for instance. Also: Beware burns. Forks should not be a type that transfers heat to the handle.)


--“The Art of Cooking Wild Game”

Noisettes of Venison with Rosemary and Orange


4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 noisettes of venison cut ¾ inch thick from the saddle (4-6 ounces each)

2 tablespoons cognac

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons freshly grated orange peel

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary crumbled

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In large skillet, melt butter in oil over medium heat.  Add venison noisettes and sauté for 3 minutes per side, turning once. Meat should be rare. Remove to warm platter and cover to loosely to keep warm

Add cognac and flour to skilled and deglaze, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.  Whisk together cream and Dijon mustard until thoroughly blended. Pour into skilled and continue whisking until incorporated.  When sauce is heated through, reduce heat and add orange peel and rosemary.  Simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pep-per. To serve, place 2 noisettes on each plate and coat with sauce.  This is a rich cream sauce that makes a succulent entrée served over fresh pasta. Serves 4


--“Crème de Colorado”

Sweet and Sour Venison Meatballs


1-½ pounds ground venison

2 cups soft breadcrumbs

½ pound ground pork sausage

½ cup finely chopped onions

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

2 bottles (12 ounce each) chili sauce

3-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

½ of a 5-ounce jar cream style horseradish

½ -3/4 cup water

½ t. pepper

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs beaten

1 ½ tablespoon prepared mustard

4-5 tablespoons vegetable oil


In a medium bowl, combine venison, onions, eggs, mustard, salt, sausage, pepper and ½ can of the sweetened condensed mil. Mix well. Stir in breadcrumbs. Roll into 1” meatballs (They might be soft.)


In a large skillet, brown meatballs in vegetable oil and cook over medium heat until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat chili sauce, Worcester sauce and water in skillet; slowly stir in the remaining sweetened condense milk. Add horseradish. You may prefer less than ½ of the jar.  Add meatballs and heat thoroughly, but do not boil. Serves 8-10.


--Mary Forton in “Great Lakes Cookery” by  Bea Smith



+All-American Apple Pie

+"Ramona's" Chocolate Chip Cookies

+Chocolate Lebkuchen

+Cut-Out Cookies


+Split Seconds (cookies)

+Thanksgiving Dutch Apple Pie



+Apricot Cookies

+BBQ Marinade

+Citrus Spinach Salad +Fantastic Fudge Pie

+Fresh Plumb Crumb

+Gazpacho, chilled Mexican Soup

+Good 'n Easy Scallop Bake

+Lemon Butter Cookies

+Mushroom-Bacon Quiche

+Thanksgiving Dutch Apple Pie

+Zesty Baked Trout



+Black and Tan Frosting for Cookies


+Fettucine Alfredo

+Game Day Slow Cooker Chicken Salad

+Mom Page's Scalloped Potatoes

+Pumpkin Bread

+Pumpkin Pie

+Salmon Cakes











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