Monday, January 31, 2011

Grilled Venison with Shallots & Thyme

     Here's an easy venison tenderloin recipe I really like. It's pretty easy, but does need to be started at least a few hours, if not a day before you plan to grill.

     To make this you'll need a tenderloin no less than 12 inches in length. If you'll be feeding a lot of people use a longer piece of tenderloin, and if needed use the whole thing as long as you can fit it both on your grill, and in your refrigerator.

      Start by laying the loin on a piece of plastic wrap long enough to completely wrap and seal the loin. Smear the entire loin with a quality olive oil, being sure to get the ends and the underside.

      Mince several shallots, and strip and chop several twigs of fresh thyme. Coat the entire loin with the shallots and thyme, then seal the loin in the plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. The shallots and thyme should be pretty densely smeared on the loin, as some will fall off during grilling. Ideally, the loin should sit overnight, but at least let it sit for a few hours.

     Next, prepare your grill. For this recipe, and most red meats you'll want your grill hot. The idea is to seal in all the delicious juices. When the grill is hot start grilling the loin. The olive oil may have gotten cloudy if the loin had been refrigerated long enough. Don't worry about that, it'll turn back into oil on the grill. As the loin cooks, turn it so you get every side.

     How long you cook the loin is a matter of preference. I like my meat rare to medium rare, so after I've seared all the sides I don't leave it on too long. I'll not tell you how long to cook it, but please take care not to over cook, and dry it out. Venison is a rather sensitive meat, and can over cook easily. The best way to know when to take it off is to become familiar with the way meat feels as it's cooking. the more it cooks, the less it wiggles when touched.

     After you remove the loin from the grill you want to let it rest for 10 minutes before you cut into it. This will allow the meat to retain it's juices. Because of the rest period it is probably best to take the meat off the grill a little before it has reached your desired done-ness, as the heat it retains will continue to cook it slightly.

     When you are ready to carve, cut the loin into medallions, and dig in. If done correctly the loin should have some redness in the middle of each medallion you cut. How much is up to you, and depends on your cooking time.

     I've used this recipe with great success to introduce people to venison. It also works well with beef, and probably any red meat. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The One That Got Away.

     Hunt or fish long enough and you will have a collection of tales about the one that got away, spectacular misses, and doggone good ol' dog mishaps. This season I experienced, and benefitted a little bit  from someone else's screw up.  I've always used my "misses" as a learning tool, to be reflected on, and learned from, no matter how funny. Hopefully, someone is learning from their miss this season, but I doubt it.

     Opening day of shotgun deer season a hunter sitting in a stand about 250 yards behind me let go a volley of 5 shots. I knew what he was shooting at. A couple weeks earlier during archery season I'd seen a nice big 8 pointer in the area. No doubt he was sending lead at the buck. I would wonder what circumstance required 5 shots, however. After all, as ethical hunters we respect, and understand the game we are after. We'd never take a shot at a moving deer, nor take a hail mary at a deer out of range. We just don't do that. Right?

     After a few more days on stand, and not seeing any deer, I'd decided I'd take to the ground. I enjoy still hunting, and tracking in snow when conditions permit. Having put some time in learning the wood lot I was hunting I'd located a few heavily used trails, and some bedding areas. The plan was to travel along the many ridge lines which paralled the areas I wished to investigate. From above I felt I had a chance to spot a deer travelling in the funnel below.

     I believe this plan would have worked well had I not been distracted by a huge pile of deer hair strewn about the ground near a bedding area. Investigating the area I soon located a leg, then a few ribs, then, the mother load. Spine, connected to a skull, adorned with a huge rack. Yup, the coyotes had made a fine meal of the big buck I'd seen during the archery season. At first I thought it to be another deer, but after a bit of reflection I realized it was the same one.

     Unfortunately, and I think you'll agree with me, although the coyotes ate this deer, I doubt they killed it. This deer had been wounded by a hunter, and eventually died. Though, it is possible the coyotes got to it after it had grown weak due to it's wound and were able to finish it off.

     I also find it unfortunate that the hunter responsible for this will probably not learn from it. He probably thinks he missed, and dreams of seeing this deer as an even bigger buck next year. He probably will sit in the same stand, and probably thinks he can take the same shot again, making it next time if he just concentrates a bit harder. He probably doesn't recognize that what he's done could have reflected poorly on all hunters if found by anyone other than another hunter. He probably watches way too much TV programming that shows big bucks being killed, but never the countless hours the professional host spends at the rifle range.

     By now you must be wondering how it is I benefitted by this experience. After all, it does say in the first paragraph that I "benefitted a little bit  from someone elses screw up." Well, I certainly wasn't going to let a beautiful 8 pointer rot away in the woods. So here he is.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention; he wasn't an 8, he was a 9 pointer.

     Thanks for reading, and if you can, please take a little something from this story.

Friday, January 28, 2011

    Welcome to All Seasons, and thank you for exploring my new outdoors blog. In this blog I will be writing about many different aspects of outdoor sport, and how to prepare the game you have brought home from your outdoor adventure.

     As an avid outdoorsman I prefer to spend my free time hunting and fishing. I also enjoy cooking, and there is nothing better than creating a delicious meal with game you have taken in the outdoors. Ruffed Grouse hunting, and wing shooting being my favorite outdoor pursuits, this blog will probably contain many stories of time spent carrying a shotgun behind a good bird dog. I also enjoy deer hunting and have been known to pursue them with muzzleloader and bow, however, my success rate in hunting deer is much lower. Hopefully I will one day have the privilege of blogging about a successful deer hunt, and sharing with everyone a delicious recipe.

     Being that I am starting this blog in January I doubt I will be spending much time in the outdoors until the spring. This being the case, I will begin with sharing some recipes I have cooked in the past, and outdoor stories of past seasons. I will also share with you stories of some of the wonderful bird dogs I've had the privilege of shooting over. Then, as winter turns into spring I will prepare for turkey hunting season, and some trout fishing adventures.

     Occasionally I may share a story or two related to some of my other interests, Rugby, Judo, or travel. I expect that I may also have entries written by some of my good hunting buddies included this blog, and I'm sure over time I will find a way to introduce you to the crew I am fortunate enough to hunt with.