CHEF JEFF: Wild for game meatsAnyone who knows me will tell you that cooking and hunting — along with gardening — are at the top of my list of favorite pastimes. And that’s why Jesse Griffiths strikes a chord with me.
It’s truly a joy to discover someone who shares a passion — no matter what it is. And it’s even more gratifying when they have the same fervor as you do for other such pursuits.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that cooking and hunting — along with gardening — are at the top of my list of favorite pastimes.
And that’s why Jesse Griffiths strikes a chord with me.
Griffiths is an acclaimed chef, butcher and hunting teacher, the co-owner (with life/work partner Tamara Mayfield) of Dai Due Butcher Shop and Supper Club in Austin, Texas, as well a nominee for Food and Wine Best New Chef 2011. Some may even recognize him as one of the butchers featured in Marissa Guggiana’s “Primal Cuts.”
And now, he’s author, having written “Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish,” a 256-page hardcover book that contains 85 recipes — most of which look mighty tasty — as well tips on field dressing, butchering and preparing fish and game. (The book also features many beautiful photos — all the way from the field to the kitchen —by artist and outdoorsman Jody Horton.)
Griffiths explains how to scale, clean, skin, stuff, fillet, braise and fry a myriad of wild seafood, poultry and game in the book, which will appeal to experienced hunters, anglers and cooks as well as to novices.
In the book’s introduction, Griffiths tells readers that game meats and fresh fish are “truly the healthiest proteins you can get your hands on.” And that’s a sentiment shared by Jennifer Haugen, clinical dietitian with Altru Health System.
“Wild game is a good source of lean protein,” Haugen said. “Most of the time there is no fat to drain.”
One caveat, she said, is that although many wild game meats are low in fat, they remain high in cholesterol, which is necessary in the body to aid in metabolism and synthesis of hormones.
Here are some suggestions from Haugen for fixing wild game:
• Use ground venison for foods with a lot of seasoning such as tacos or chili.
• Because it is lean, venison may require some marinating time. “My father has given me a few suggestions over the past few years on improving the palatability of venison. One of these suggestions is to marinate steaks in an acidic liquid, such as Bloody Mary mix or spicy V8, overnight to tenderize the meat.
• If cooking a wild game roast in a slow-cooker, add beef broth to flavor.
• Use moist heat cooking methods (braising and stewing) to avoid drying out the
• Food safety is very important when processing and handling wild game. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has outlined Chronic Wasting Disease and Avian Influenza on its website (http://gf.nd.gov/hunting/wildlife-diseases) and provides suggestions on safe handling and processing of wild game.
• As with all foods, it is important to practice consuming in moderation.
Jesse Griffiths and I have a lot in common. But his love of hunting, fishing and cooking is not all that is so appealing to me. It’s also his commitment to the principles of the local sustainable food movement.
(I’ve always been a proponent of raising a garden — preserving the bounty through freezing and canning — and buying meats locally. A couple of examples of the latter is our upcoming purchase of a half of a pig — raised locally by the cousin of a co-worker — and our of acquisition of chickens on a regular basis from the Forest River Hutterite Colony.)
I think that would appeal to Griffiths.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.