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Wild Game for Everyone

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Seasonal recipes for the upcoming holiday season from Wild Chef’s Jonathan B. Miles.

20-coverfFrom Field and Stream Magazine columnist Jonathan B. Miles comes a wild-game cookbook for every hunter and outdoorsman. With more than 130 recipes and tips, techniques and tools of the trade, the book covers everything from choosing essential kitchen tools, to butchering a deer, to cooking up venison-stuffed tamales. Whether you are cooking fireside at your campsite or at home for friends, there is something for cooks of every skill level, with recipes that will satisfy every palate.

Miles’ Wild Chef column and blog has appeared in Field and Stream Magazine since 2004, and features original recipes and those collected from top-tier restaurants. The New York Times has described Miles as “one of the nation’s most unheralded recipe writers.” With the fall hunting season upon us, ATX Man selected recipes suitable for the upcoming holiday season.

20-turkeyThanksgiving Wild Turkey

For many hunter-cooks, Thanksgiving is a holiday of pride, the one day a year their field and kitchen prowess are put on display for family and friends. This recipe ensures that full measure of pride. Serves six.


  • 3/4 pound fatback, salted pork or bacon*, minced
  • 1 11- to 13-pound wild turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 ribs celery, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups toasted bread, dice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6 sprigs sage, minced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, minced
  • 8 sprigs Italian parsley, minced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

* Have your butcher slice this thinly into sheets resembling slices of American cheese.

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Render half the fatback slowly in a heavy-bottom sauté pan. Reserve and keep warm. Dry the turkey very well with paper towels. Using a brush, coat the exterior with some of the warm minced fatback and season well with salt and pepper inside and out. Heat the remaining minced fatback on medium. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the celery and cook for five minutes more. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.

Remove from the heat and add the toasted bread. Moisten with stock and add the minced herbs. Taste the bread cubes and add more broth and herbs as needed—they should be moist and tasty. Gently fill the cavity of the turkey with this mixture, and cover the breast with the remaining slices of fatback. Place the turkey breast side up in a heavy roasting pan and put it in the oven. Roast for one hour.

Remove the fatback, raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees, and continue roasting for one hour to brown the breast. Remove the turkey as soon as it registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving it across the grain with a sharp knife.

20-venisonVenison Tenderloin with Sage, Pumpkin and Prunes

Elements like pumpkins and prunes make this dish from Terrance Brennan of New York’s Picholine a perfect fall meal, and its bright, rich colors on the plate lend it some stunning visual appeal. Either tenderloin or backstrap will work for this dish. Serves four.


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 venison tenderloins, 6 to 7 ounces each
  • Packed 1⁄4 cup prunes, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Armagnac or cognac (optional)
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 2 cups peeled and finely diced cheese pumpkin or other baking pumpkin
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 8 quail eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/4 cup fried shallot rings
  • Cracked black pepper and nutmeg to taste

Directions: In a bowl, stir together 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the allspice, the star anise and the cinnamon. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Rub this mixture onto both sides of each venison loin. Put the prunes in a bowl. If using Armagnac, pour it over prunes and set them aside to soak.

In a 10-inch saute pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the pumpkin and cook, tossing and stirring every few minutes, until lightly caramelized on all sides, 15 to 18 minutes. Toss in the prunes. Remove the pan from the heat and season generously with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350. Put 2 tablespoons each of the remaining oil and butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to sizzle and foam, add the venison loins and sear for one minute. Turn them over and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a loin reads 120 degrees for rare.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the venison to a board. Let rest three to four minutes. Meanwhile, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining butter and cook it until it melts and turns brown, approximately one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sage leaves. When the sage leaves get crispy, scoop them out and set aside. Divide the pumpkin and prunes evenly among dinner plates. Top each portion with a venison loin, a drizzle of brown butter and crisped sage.

Next -Day Dish

Odds are decent that you’ll finish every last bite of venison here, but if there is any left over, you have the star ingredient for a killer sandwich. Smear each half of a crusty baguette with mayonnaise, add the venison, cilantro and a drizzle of Sriracha and enjoy.


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