Pros: Lots of colored photographs, Valuable section on working with wild game, Nutrient information for all recipes and a catalog resource for ordering wild
Cons: Not all the recipes have photos.
It is safe to say that I am the only one in my extended family that cooks wild game. If I expand that I believe I have only one friend that cooks wild game, and she doesn’t do it on a regular basis. When I talk about cooking wild game, I often hear how they don’t want to attempt it because they have no clue where to begin. I used to be in that same boat. However, this year my carnivorous husband took up bow hunting. With fifty pounds of deer venison in my freezer I suddenly needed to learn how to prepare it. I figured if he took the time to go out and hunt, I needed to prepare it the best way possible. You may wonder why I specified “deer venison.” Well in my new cookbook, “The Venison Cookbook, Venison Dishes from Fast to Fancy” by Kate Fiduccia I learned that venison is “broadly defined as the meat from any game animal, including not only the deer and its relatives, but also bear, antelope, wild boar, peccary and more.” All these years I thought it was only deer. After looking through many cookbooks on wild game I selected this one because not only do the photographs look wonderful and inspiring but the author’s main intent is to have fun with the recipes. I equate fun with easy.
So what is this cookbook like? Well, it is a nice hard-covered book filled with heavy duty pages. I found the “working with venison” chapter particularly helpful. It is full of essential information on how lean venison is, and critical tips on how to add fat to the lean cuts. I even learned about larding, which is “threading strips of fat into the interior of the roast with the aid of a special needle.” I had to get one of those. It wasn’t hard. I actually found them on Amazon.Com! After further research, I found you can also use those needles to insert vegetables into the meat as well. A big thank you to Kate Fiduccia for enlightening me! Another valuable point is that you typically want to cook venison rare (130° to 135°F). I believe this is to help maintain tenderness and juiciness, as venison is so naturally lean that it easily dries out. I have to admit right off that while rare is the optimal temperature for venison I am not a rare eater. I did cook my portion longer and it was great. The more I read the book, the more comfortable I felt as I delved into the unknown task of cooking wild game.
The book is laid out with sections on Starters, main meals, venison for breakfast, soups, stews & chilies, marinades, game accompaniments, premier wild chefs, and your best recipes. “Your Best Recipes” is a section that highlights recipes submitted by fans after watching the television series “Woods N’ Water” in which Kate cooks. One thing unique to this cookbook is she has all the nutrient information in an appendix in the back. This might seem odd at first, however, it makes it really easy to compare nutrient information when the recipes are side by side. For example, if needed a 400 calorie lunch for a special diet, simply go to this section and select meals with the desired calorie count. I was pleased with how the book was laid out.
This is one of those books where I flip through the pages and right away there are several recipes that catch my eye. The many photographs really add to the recipes. They make me want to replicate that recipe. I only wish there were photos of every recipe, which is the only reason this review didn’t get five stars. When cooking in unfamiliar territory, I find the more photos the better! I jumped right in and started cooking. Unless you butcher your own, all wild game is going to come to you frozen from the processing plant. Not a problem, just follow Kate’s advice on defrosting in your fridge a couple days prior to using it and it tastes great. Most wild game butchers don’t use absorbent pads in the bottom of the meat containers so when you defrost your wild game there will be a lot of liquid. She suggests you defrost it on a rack. When I defrost the ground venison I simply put the whole package into a zip lock back to catch any liquid. Every recipe I tried was a success, and they were easy. I was very pleased with how they turned out. My teen wouldn’t ever choose to eat wild game; however, he has had several meals of wild game and ate them all unaware it wasn’t beef. Besides the meat in the recipes, everything else can be purchased at your local grocery store. The directions are well written with plenty of instructions, making them accessible to all level of cooks. I found “The Venison Cookbook” to be a great addition to my library. In fact, it is the only venison cookbook in my collection. Since it is a specialty cookbook, I think it would be wonderful for anyone wanting to cook venison whether they are a professional chef or home cook. I hope that reading this cookbook will tame your fears when it comes to preparing meals with venison.
I hope you enjoy the recipe I posted. This was one of the first recipes I used. It was really easy to prepare. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t care for rare meat – no matter what – so I simply cooked mine longer and it was great.
Venison Steak Forrestiere
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 15 Minutes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
8 boneless venison steaks (4 to 6 oz. each), well-trimmed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms*
½ cup crumbled cooked bacon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
½ cup red wine
¾ cup brown sauce or beef gravy
Place flour in large plastic food-storage bag; add salt and pepper to taste and shake well to mix. Pat steaks dry, and dredge in seasoned flour.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add steaks, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer steaks to plate; set aside to keep warm.
Add mushrooms, bacon, garlic and parsley to skillet; stir well. Add wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits. Add brown sauce and stir well. Return steaks to skillet; simmer for 5 minutes.
*To add flavor, try using half baby Portobello mushrooms.