How To

Preparing Fall Wild Game Fare from the Freezer

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Venison chili made from last season's harvests can be a big hit on game day or for hungry hunters at deer camp.

Venison chili made from last season's harvests can be a big hit on game day or for hungry hunters at deer camp.

The passage of the first cool front of fall is an annual reminder that I need to look in the freezer and determine how much wild game remains.

After the inventory is completed, it’s time to make plans to do either a little or a lot of cooking.

Sometimes I enlist a little help from my friends, one of whom happens to be David Holloway, the Food Editor for the Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama.

Holloway readily admits that he’s not the best hunter, but he does do a heck of a job of preparing any wild game with his native Louisiana flair.

“I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, as a hunter I’m a pretty good cook,” Holloway said. “That’s probably good since the only real reason that I’m often invited on hunts with friends is my ability to stand over a stove and turn out some tasty victuals. The only real hard-and-fast rule I live by as a successful camp house cook is to avoid killing any of my friends or having the weekend end up with a visit to the nearest emergency room. That’s not a high bar, but it’s one that I’ve been able to successfully walk under so far, knock on wood.”

“One of the hallmarks of early season hunting menus is the hodgepodge nature of the fare. A lot of hunters find it necessary to excavate the innards of their home freezer for game left over from last year. That’s why these early hunting meals are often a smorgasbord of tasty dishes that don’t follow a regular pattern.”

Holloway’s suggestions begin with a sauce piquant for squirrel. Of course, you can use your choice of meats in a sauce piquant. I’ve had it with rabbit and turtle, and it’s always outstanding.

Squirrel sauce piquant

  • 4 good-size squirrels, cut into pieces
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely sifted flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 six-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 cans Rotel tomatoes with chilies
  • 2 cups chicken stock (water will do)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch green onion tops
  • Rice

Season squirrel with cayenne pepper and salt to taste. In a cast-iron pot, brown squirrel in cooking oil until well done.

Remove meat and transfer to a warm plate. Reduce heat to medium and add flour to make a dark roux. Stir constantly until the roux is about as dark as chocolate. Be careful not to get any of this roux mixture on your skin; it burns. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, and continue to cook until tender.

Add tomato paste and Rotel and simmer for 30 minutes. Add stock, garlic, meat, remainder of seasonings (except for onion tops), and andouille and cover. Let the mixture simmer for about 25 minutes or until meat is tender. Top with chopped onion tops for garnish.
Serve over rice. Makes four to six servings.

Stewed rabbit

  • 3- to 4-pound rabbit, cubed
  • Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • Rice

Season rabbit well with Tony’s seasoning. Dip in flour and use a Dutch oven to fry the rabbit in margarine until brown. Add onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; simmer until vegetables are tender. Add tomato paste and enough water to cook rabbit until tender while still maintaining a nice, thick gravy. Serve over steamed rice. Serves four.

Slow cooker venison roast

  • 1 large venison roast
  • Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 package of Lipton’s dry onion soup mix
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 to 1 soup can water

Season roast liberally. Place onion on the bottom of the slow cooker, and then place the roast on top of the onion. Add all the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for six to eight hours. Makes six to eight servings. You can thicken the gravy after it’s done and serve with rice or pasta. Egg noodles are excellent with this.

Holloway’s famous venison chili

  • 4 pounds ground venison
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 package chili seasoning mix
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 ribs celery, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 12-ounce can beer
  • 3 tablespoons ground chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Original Creole seasoning
  • 3 teaspoons (or more) ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Tone’s beef base soup starter (get it at Sam’s)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 14.5-ounce can Navy beans
  • 1 14.5-ounce can red beans
  • Extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated, or sour cream, to taste

In a large Dutch oven brown meat and drain. Lower heat, add prepackaged chili seasoning mix, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. In a separate skillet, sauté onion, bell pepper, and celery in olive oil until onions are clear, being careful not to burn. Add garlic and sauté for another two to three minutes. Add vegetables to meat mixture. Add both cans of tomatoes, beer, sugar, and seasonings, and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for about two hours. The longer it cooks, the better the results.

Add beans a half-hour before serving. Serve over rice or corn chips,  with grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese or sour cream for garnish. Makes 10 to 12 large servings.

For comparison, my favorite venison chili recipe follows:

Venison chili

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped (optional, my girls don’t like green peppers)
  • 4 pounds ground venison
  • 3-4 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 six-ounce cans of tomato paste
  • 4 16-ounce cans of kidney beans
  • 1/4-1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1-3 dashes of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid crab boil (my secret ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-3 dashes of garlic salt
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Heat olive oil in large stock pot with heavy bottom and sauté garlic, onions, and pepper until tender. Add venison and brown for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, chili powder, cayenne pepper, crab boil, salt, and garlic salt. Mix together and then add bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, allowing the chili to simmer for two to three hours. Serves 10 to 12.

The last recipe is probably the easiest ever. All it takes is time.

Easy grilled venison backstrap

  • 1 venison backstrap
  • 1 quart of favorite marinade

Carefully clean all silverskin off the backstrap and cut into 6-inch long chunks. Pour half the marinade of your choice in a sealable plastic container. Place backstrap chunks in container and pour remaining marinade over the top. Seal container and place in the refrigerator for a week. Heat up a charcoal or gas grill. Place backstrap on the grill and cook until medium rare. You won’t believe how tender seven days of aging and marinating makes the venison.

As we charter members of the “Big Dave” club say, Bon Appétit!

Images courtesy David Rainer

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Glenn H

    Yep just started working on my last year dear meat! Several lbs of ground and cubed two hams and some backstrap!
    I love to use Toni’s creole seasoning on cubed steak then batter in flower, pan fry until golden brown. Serve with home made biscuits and fried eggs . It don’t get no better than this!