Local entities team up for wild bird and waterfowl preparation classes.
After a long day in a duck blind waiting anxiously for that perfect shot and the trusty bird dog to deliver the day’s trophy, one image comes to mind: dinner. While the excitement of the hunt is gone, there are still plenty of thrills to be had in the kitchen. This is where the folks at Nothing to It! Culinary Center in Reno and the Nevada Department of Wildlife come in. Through their wild game cooking classes, culinary experts guide hunters and home chefs in the art of epicurean creativity with the season’s bounty.
“Our partnership with NDOW is awesome. During the classes we talk about field care, hunter safety and resources, best practices, and how to take care of your harvest,” explains Nothing to It! Culinary Director Lara Ritchie. “People have become myopic in their view of cooking with wild game, and my goal is for people to think a little more broadly in terms of flavor and technique.”
Aaron Keller, statewide outdoor education coordinator for NDOW, adds, “The cooking classes make a great date night. If you’re a husband or wife of somebody that hunts or fishes, take the course. It’ll give you the chance to learn how to cook what you or your partner brings home.”
A Taste of What’s to Come
While the material covered in each class varies, depending on the class type and donated meat offerings, Ritchie says that several concepts are consistent no matter the protein.
“Keep in mind that the meat will be a little leaner because the birds get more exercise. Chukar are truly wild animals, and they’re out there running around,” Ritchie says. “They will taste like what they eat, which is true to any animal you have.
“In terms of cooking methods,” she continues, “my hope is that it doesn’t all have to turn into chili or soup or be dehydrated. There’s no reason why you couldn’t do a stir-fry dish, or something more exotic or creative with wild game.”
Ritchie recommends working with local meat processors, since many offer services to grind meats and make sausages.
“You can substitute these organic, healthy proteins into just about any recipe you’d use store-bought items in. Get creative and have fun in honor of the hunt,” she says.
See below for two great wild game recipes.
For details about wild game cooking classes, visit Nothingtoit.com.
Heidi Bethel is married to an avid hunter who has been all over Northern Nevada and Northern California in search of chukar. She looks forward to some new preparation options for her family to enjoy.
Baked Turkey Egg Rolls
(courtesy of Lara Ritchie, chef/owner, Nothing to It! Culinary Center in Reno. Serves 6)
1 pound ground turkey
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, either finely minced or grated
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
½ cup water chestnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon pepper
12 egg roll wraps, large size (5½ inches)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a nonstick pan, cook ground turkey over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spatula, until no longer pink. This should take about 5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, ginger, carrot, celery, and water chestnuts, cooking over medium heat until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, water, sesame oil, and pepper together. Pour over cooked mixture, stirring to mix, then remove from heat. Let filling cool slightly.
Place egg roll wrapper on work surface and brush edges with water. Spoon a scant 3 tablespoons of filling on bottom third of wrapper, leaving a ½-inch border on bottom and sides. Pull bottom edge over filling and roll up, pinching ends to seal. Place seam-side down on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with oil. Cook for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.
Sheet Pan Chukar Fajitas
(courtesy of Lara Ritchie, chef/owner, Nothing to It! Culinary Center in Reno. Serves 4)
1½ pounds chukar breast, thinly sliced
½ yellow bell pepper, sliced into ¼-inch slices
½ red bell pepper, sliced into ¼-inch slices
½ orange bell pepper, sliced into ¼-inch slices
1 small red onion, sliced into ¼-inch slices
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Several turns freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 lime, cut into wedges
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray a foil-lined baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Add all sliced vegetables and chukar to a large bowl and toss with olive oil.
Mix together all dry spices in a small bowl and sprinkle over chukar and veggies. Toss to thoroughly coat, then spread in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes, until chukar reaches 165 degrees F. Then turn oven to broil and cook for additional 1 to 2 minutes, just letting veggies pick up some color. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t start to burn.
In last 5 minutes of cooking (before broiler is on), let tortillas wrapped in foil warm in oven. Cut limes into wedges and chop cilantro. Squeeze juice from fresh limes over fajita mixture while hot, and top with fresh cilantro. Serve in warm tortillas with guacamole and sour cream.