Cooking Wild for the Holidays

By Bernadette Dryden | November 18, 2016
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2016

December is a great month to try recipes from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s popular cookbook.

Venison Bierocks (meat-stuffed buns)

Makes 24 buns


  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 egg
  • 6 cups flour (I like one-third whole wheat)


  • 1 pound venison, ground
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1¼ cups chopped onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups cabbage, chopped (about half a good-sized head)
  • 1½ teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • Dijon, other good-quality mustard

Make the dough

Scald milk; add sugar, salt, and vegetable oil, then cool in large bowl. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water in separate small bowl. Add to milk mixture and stir in beaten egg. Add 3 cups flour and mix until smooth. Work in remaining fl our or enough to make an easily handled dough. Knead well (8 to 10 minutes). Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1½ to 2 hours). Punch down and let rise again for 30 to 45 minutes.

Make the filling

Brown meat in a large sauté pan, drain, and set aside in a bowl. Melt butter in same pan and sauté onions and garlic until soft . Remove from pan and add to the meat in the bowl. Add cabbage to the sauté pan along with the next six ingredients (through water). Cover pan and cook at a lively simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring several times. Drain juices, add flour, and stir well. Add meat, onions, and garlic. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Mix thoroughly and let cool.

Stuff the dough

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Roll dough into a large square, about ¼-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares, and keep covered with a cloth as you work. Mound ¼ cup filling onto the middle of each square, bring opposite corners together and pinch seams firmly to form either a square or a circle, to your liking.

Set buns, with smooth side up, on 2 greased baking sheets and let rise about 30 minutes. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until nice and brown. Brush lightly with butter. Cut in halves, if you like, and slather with a good sturdy mustard.

Trout in Saor (trout in the style of Venice)

Serves 4 as a first course

  • 1 pound trout fillets
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ¾ cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup golden raisins, soaked in lukewarm water
  • Parsley and lemon slices for garnishing, if desired

Wash and dry fillets; dredge in flour to coat well on both sides. Fry fish in very hot vegetable oil until crisp and golden, turning once. Place on paper towels and season with salt.

Drain remaining vegetable oil from skillet and clean the pan with a paper towel. Lower heat to medium. Pour in olive oil, and, when heated, fry onion until translucent. Stir in vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, and pepper. Boil for a minute or so, then remove from heat.

Arrange fillets in 2 layers in a glass dish, scattering pine nuts, drained raisins, and onion mixture atop each layer. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Serve at room temperature as an appetizer or first course.

Boone County Burgoo with squirrel

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 pounds squirrel meat (about 4 squirrels)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1½ cups lima beans (or other dried beans)
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup sliced okra (or fresh green beans)
  • 1 to 2 red bell peppers, diced (or combination of sweet and hot roasted peppers)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon chile powder (depending upon desired heat)
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Clean 3 or 4 squirrels to obtain 2 pounds of meat on the bone. Rub the meat with salt and pepper and broil the whole squirrels for about 30 minutes (keeping squirrels about 8 inches from the heating element). Turn halfway through to brown both sides. Alternatively, you may put your squirrels in a large pot, cover them with water, and boil them for 2 to 3 hours (older squirrels take longer to cook until tender). Debone and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat oil in the bottom of a big pot and brown squirrel pieces for 4 or 5 minutes, turning them frequently. Add water to the pot and then the hominy, lima beans, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaf. Simmer for 1 hour and skim off grease (if any).

Add okra, bell pepper, tomatoes, corn, salt, pepper, chile powder, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauces. Bring the stew back to a boil, stir well, and reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered for 2 more hours or until it is as thick as you like.

Wild-Turkey Dropped-Biscuit Pie

Serves 4

3 to 4 pounds of wild turkey meat on the bone


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cream


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

Cover turkey in water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until tender. Remove meat from broth, cool, and cut into 1-inch chunks or shred if preferred. Reserve broth.

Grease a Dutch oven or other casserole dish with a light coating of butter. Add turkey to the dish.

Make sauce

In a medium saucepan melt butter, whisk in flour, and stir until well combined. Add 3 cups turkey broth and cream. Whisk, salt to taste, and cook until it is a smooth sauce. It will be quite thin, but will thicken when baked with turkey. Pour sauce over turkey.

Make biscuit dough

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and stir well. Rub 2 tablespoons butter into flour mixture until combined. Add egg and milk; mix well. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls (12 to 16) over entire surface area of turkey/ sauce. Bake for approximately 1 hour or more until biscuits are nicely browned. Sauce will appear thin when you remove the dish from the oven. However, it will thicken nicely if you allow the dish to cool for a few minutes before spooning it into shallow bowls. Grind a few twists of fresh black pepper atop and serve.

Accompany with lightly steamed broccoli or a salad of mixed, fresh greens. An unoaked Chardonnay accompanies nicely.

Use the whole bird

Although the breast is the prime choice on a turkey, the remaining meat can be used as a base for a flavorful soup or for any other number of dishes, including this one. Considering the patience and skill required to bag this bird, it’s a shame to use the breast and throw out the rest.

Black-Walnut Chocolate Biscotti

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root (peeled
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup black walnuts (toasted lightly; skins removed as much as possible and chopped coarsely) ¼ cup almonds, toasted lightly and coarsely chopped

This batter can be mixed in a large bowl by hand, but is much easier with a food processor or large electric mixer. Blend dry ingredients (flour through cocoa powder) until mixture is well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger root, vanilla, and eggs; add to the dry ingredients, beating until a dough is formed. Stir nuts in by hand.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead several times. Divide into thirds. Butter and flour baking sheet. With floured hands, form each piece of dough into a 10- by 2½-inch log. Flatten lightly with hands. Arrange logs on sheet 4 inches apart.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove logs from sheet and cut each crosswise on the diagonal into ¾-inch-thick slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on two baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer biscotti to racks to cool. Store in airtight containers. Will keep for two weeks.

Optional glaze

I like to dress up my biscotti by zigzagging chocolate down the lengths or by dipping the ends in chocolate.

Here’s how: Melt 3 ounces of high-quality dark chocolate and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter together over low heat. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons corn syrup (and just a touch of your favorite liqueur, if desired). Stir well and fill a pastry bag fitted with a small, round tip.

After cookies are cooled, squeeze chocolate through the pastry bag’s tip in thin ribbons down the length of the cookie. Alternatively, dip ends in the warm chocolate and shake gently to remove excess. Dry thoroughly on racks before storing.

Removing walnut skins

While the nuts are still hot from toasting, wrap them in a tea towel and rub them lightly against each other to remove as much skin as possible. Then proceed with chopping.

Visit Our Online Recipe Collection

You had fun hunting, catching, or gathering your harvest — now have more fun cooking and eating it. Browse more recipes for Missouri’s wild game and edibles at


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This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler