Venison, Woods-to-Table Taste Sensation

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Published on: Oct. 16, 2012

Excerpted from MDC’s Cookbook “Cooking Wild”

During the last firearms deer season, hunters harvested more than 238,000 whitetails in Missouri. Although deer is the most sought-after game animal in the state (turkeys are second), Missourians also enjoy bringing to the table a fair number of squirrels, rabbits and other small game.

I’ve known hunters and anglers all my life and worked with hundreds of them during my 23 years with the Conservation Department. I’ve always admired the strength, skill, stealth and patience it takes to draw back a bow, deftly cast a line or sit motionless in a cold deer stand for hours.

Kevin Lohraff, a Conservation Department colleague from whom I’ve learned much about the natural world, concurs. “Hunting is one of the most natural things I know,” he says. “For me it is the ultimate connection between the land you live on and yourself. It also gives you an intimate connection with what you put in your body.”

The meat and fish that Kevin and his family eat are almost exclusively from animals that he harvests from the Missouri wild. Nature’s ability to help “reset his balance” is high on Kevin’s list of reasons to hunt and be in the wild. “In this modern, digital era, a person can feel pretty disconnected from everything. When I get out in the woods, it doesn’t take long to get the feeling that I could be living a thousand years ago—using what I have learned about animals and their behaviors, and putting into practice my familiarity with the outdoor environment and my skills as a hunter. There’s a calming effect and intimacy from all of it that is very healing.”

Venison Kebabs

This is one of my favorite ways to use ground venison. Quick and easy, this recipe also is incredibly malleable, as I’ve mentioned in my herbs and spices note that follows. In a nutshell, kebabs are miniature Middle Eastern meatloaves on sticks. I love to tuck them into grilled pitas and top them with fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes and yogurt-cucumber dip.

Soak Your Skewers

Bamboo skewers are my choice for threading meat for satays or kebabs. Be sure to soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes (or more) to keep them from igniting on the grill. Metal skewers don’t need to be soaked, of course, but they do get (and stay) very hot. Also, they often are

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