Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Deer

Kids really do end up acting like their parents. Once I got on my quest to shoot a pig my boy got the bug too. The first problem was that he is just a monkey and it takes a pretty big gun to take down a big animal. "That's no problem!", he said. He asked for a big gun for his birthday in September and ended up with an H&R single shot 7mm-08. It came with a scope and a youth model stock.

The first time he shot it he held it too loose and the scope smashed him in the forehead. This thing is loud as hell and kicks hard. Neither one of us liked the damn thing...but we pressed on. Three months and ~100 rounds later the boy is hitting his targets at 100 yards.

We finally got a chance to hunt deer over Christmas at my folks place back in Kentucky. We froze our butts off but we managed to bag a small buck. I made the blind and helped my boy spot the deer, but once he saw it he took over. A perfect shot at 100 yards. The buck stumbled for ~30 yards and dropped. Neither my father or I had ever shot a deer before so we were pretty much jumping out of our pants when my boy dropped one on his first hunt. Way cool.

So.....I have been up to my elbows, literally, in venison. We took the backstraps, both hindquarters and one shoulder (the other should had a huge hole in it :) ). We also took a bag of random trimmings not associated with the major cuts. I did not save the ribs, they looked like not much was on them and I did not have the cooler space. I also pitched the organs...I know a deer heart/liver pate would be cool to write about but I honestly did not want to make or eat it.

Butchering the deer has been super fun! Seeing how the leg muscles are connected and pull apart is awsome. It has helped me understand various cuts of meat better now that I actually figured out how to find them. that's where a round roast comes from. The deer weighed ~150-200 lbs before we field dressed him. I am guessing we ended up with ~30 lbs of meat. The leg bones have been saved for a stock session this weekend and the skin is being tanned for use as a blanket.

So far we have had peppered steaks, country fried steaks (I am in Texas after all), bacon wrapped, stroganoff and by far my favorite...bratwurst burgers.

3 lbs venison trimmed of all fat, membranes and silverskin.
1 lb pork fat
1/4 pint heavy cream
1 egg
2 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 nutmeg, grated

Put the meat and fat through the grinder then into the mixer with the seasonings. Mix well for ~2 minutes. You could easily stuff into casings at this point but I was out. Instead I formed the mix into 6 oz patties and pan fried them like a burger. Pretty incredible.

Go hunting. It's fun.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fun with Gunpowder

Sous Vide my ass.

I'm sorry, I appreciate the art, but you can't get much farther from the elemental than controlled temperature baths. Braising short ribs at 138 degrees for three weeks...yum, just as nature intended.

And so I revert to the elemental. Gunpowder: Charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate. I spent a glorious afternoons a few weeks ago playing with two forms of gunpowder: Black and smokeless.

The black powder was used while shooting a 50 caliber muzzle loader. Pure glorious. Let me set the stage. I hate shooting rifles. I am good at it but that doesn't mean I like it. The crack of the bullet (seriously, wear ear protection) the recoil of the ain't fun. I can do the macho crap and suck it up, but honestly I would rather be eating some chicken wings than spending time on the shooting range.

The difference between black powder in the muzzle loader and smokeless powder in a modern rifle is best described as the difference between being punched really hard in the shoulder and receiving a strong shove. The black powder is a big shove...a big messy shove.

It doesn't get much more elemental than a muzzle loader. Measure your powder (pyrodex) and pour it down the muzzle. Place a lubricated patch over the exit of the muzzle, place a 50 caliber ball on top of the patch and ram the ball down onto the powder. Load a primer onto the trigger and fire. You get a massive amount of smoke, a "Kabam!" that garners respect at the range, and a massive hole in your paper target. Oh, by the way, it is really fun and doesn't hurt. For anybody who has the least bit of interest...go to a gun range and get someone to educate you about this. I cannot stress how much fun this is and how easy it is. That being said, you need someone to walk you through it the first time. Crap can happen.

So after firing massive lead missles we spent the rest of the afternoon making rifle rounds for the 30-30. This uses a smokeless gunpowder. I shall not go into details because it would be meaningless until you have experience doing it. Let me say this: It is easy once you have the right equipment. The right equipment will cost ~$150. Get someone from the gun range to show you. People at the range are lunatics, but in a nice way. Don't be a judgemental ass, ask to be enlightened and they will be happy to share the knowledge. It ain't hard, it's a lot of fun and it's very elemental.

Seriously....muzzleloaders are the definition of the serious fun. Go to the range and learn from the lunatics. Sanity is a matter of perspective.

Beats the hell out of sous vide.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pressed Beef: A nod and a wink

I saw an interesting recipe for cured beef the other day and thought it would be worth a try. The recipe was from the Blacksmith Steakhouse Bar and consisted of placing a steak in a cure, pressing it for 24 hours, then serving it sliced very thin.

So with a nod of my head to Larbo who got me thinking about cured pressed beef in the first place, I thought I might as well give a version of this a try.
0.65 lbs chuck steak
18 grams salt
18 grams brown sugar
5 grams black pepper

The cure was applied and the steak placed in a Ziploc bag. I placed the bag on a cookie sheet and pressed them with 30 pounds for 24 hours. Why 30 lbs? Well obviously because 40 would have been too much. I took me a while to figure out exactly how to press them but then I realized that what would work was a large book to evenly distribute the weight of the 30 lbs. There was no question as to what the book should be: So with a wink of my eye to The Foodie..out came the best use for Bittman's Vegetarian cookbook I have found to date.

I can't say that I loved this but I can say it was very interesting. Incredibly tender, very flavorful and a great way to extend a reasonable piece of meat over several servings. I just had it straight and then with some bread but I can imagine it would make a great highlight to a salad. My only hesitation with this is the texture...tastes good, just doesn't feel right.

I like the fact that this had been pressed. The amount of liquid expelled was tremendous and the resulting firmness made this a breeze to slice.

Interesting side note...when served thinly sliced it tasted pretty dang good. When I took one and pan seared it the result was inedible.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fun with The Girl

I have made several posts that have involved The Boy, mainly because we are off doing "guy stuff". However, my wife correctly pointed out that I need to spend more time with The Girl.

And so out came the chocolate.

Nothing here is cutting edge or particularly interesting, but it was fun. And we had fun together.

I poured a bag on mini milk chocolate chips into a bowl and had The Girl melt them in the microwave. 30 seconds of power, a minute of stirring, repeat until melted. Pretty straightforward with the appropriate amount of spillage and lickage.

We started by dipping pretzels into the chocolate and then did some peanuts. Later we dipped bananas and mini-marsh mellows. All good stuff. For desert we had chocolate chip cookies covered in chocolate. Of course desert is not the end. The end was the grand finale...chocolate covered bacon.

Time well spent.