4 Must-make Deer-camp Entrées

Tools and recipes for veni­son that will wow your hunt­ing bud­dies

Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Spencer Neuharth

Tools and recipes for veni­son that will wow your hunt­ing bud­dies

Ev­ery hunter has their role in deer camp. In my case, I’m the camp chef. This ti­tle brings a lot of pres­sure, as ap­petites and ex­pec­ta­tions grow af­ter long days afield.

One of my fa­vorite ways to keep every­one full is by cook­ing veni­son. It’s al­most po­etic, or maybe bar­baric, to eat deer meat while hunt­ing deer. Either way, it’s per­fect for con­nect­ing the hunt with other hunters.

If you de­cide to take on the ti­tle of lead cook, here are some must-bring items and must-cook recipes for deer camp.

MUST-BRING TOOLS/ITEMS Meat Ther­mome­ter

Hope­fully you’ll be grilling some back­straps, which are un­beat­able when cooked to per­fec­tion. You’ll never hear the end of it if you mess up and turn them into leather.

While most of us con­sider our­selves masters of the grill, bring­ing along a meat ther­mome­ter is wise. For starters, the grill at deer camp is of­ten for­eign; or, you might know your way around propane or wood pel­lets, but are thrown off slightly by char­coal.

I pre­fer us­ing We­ber’s igrill Mini, which has Blue­tooth ca­pa­bil­i­ties that sync to your phone to en­sure that you never ruin a piece of red meat.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch oven is the ul­ti­mate deer-camp tool for hunters who like ver­sa­til­ity. You can bury it un­der coals, hang it over a camp­fire, put it in the oven, set it on a stove top, or use it on a grill. You can make stews and cob­blers and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

Just make sure you keep the Dutch oven away from those who’ve never used one be­fore, or re­mind them of the cast-iron com­mand­ments: Never use soap for clean­ing; never use metal for cook­ing; and al­ways heat it up slowly.

Wood Cut­ting Board

The world of cut­ting boards is di­verse, and not all are cre­ated equal. There are three main types—wood, plas­tic and bam­boo—and each one func­tions dif­fer­ently.

Plas­tic is a pop­u­lar choice be­cause cooks orig­i­nally be­lieved it to be the most san­i­tary op­tion. A Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan study re­vealed that they’re ac­tu­ally the most bac­te­ria-rid­den sur­face, with scars that typ­i­cally hold germs and re­lease bits of plas­tic into your food.

Bam­boo has be­come more pop­u­lar since it’s very eco­nom­i­cal and ab­sorbs less liq­uid than wood. How­ever, be­cause bam­boo boards have small grooves and are 19% harder than maple, they aren’t as friendly to knives as wood. Still, they’re a bet­ter choice than plas­tic.

Wood is the all-around best op­tion. It’s soft enough to keep your buck knife sharp, but still hard enough to hold up over time. Also, woods like maple and beech are some­what self­heal­ing, mean­ing that a light oil­ing ev­ery now and then will keep the board from scar­ring.

“Like a good boy scout ... al­ways have one meal in mind that can be made over an open fire.”

Ex­tra-vir­gin Olive Oil

Ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil al­ways finds its way into my cook­ing. So much so, that it now falls in the ranks of salt and pep­per in my kitchen. Deer camp is no ex­cep­tion, and the fol­low­ing recipes demon­strate my af­fec­tion for the health­i­est cook­ing fat out there.

Not all types of olive oil are the same, though; the less pro­cessed the oil—ex­tra-vir­gin—the stronger the fla­vor. If the oil if more re­fined— reg­u­lar olive oil—the fla­vor will be milder and its smoke point in­creases. For recipes that in­clude olive oil, any brand will do, but when you use olive oil as a dip for bread or dress­ing for salad, you should be more se­lec­tive.

Tin Foil

Per­haps the great­est un­sung hero of camp cook­ing is tin foil. It has a va­ri­ety of uses, like keep­ing food warm, keep­ing food cold, mak­ing grills us­able that heat un­evenly, clean­ing grill grates and pre­vent­ing uten­sils from tar­nish­ing.

Like a good boy scout, though, al­ways have one meal in mind that can be made over an open fire. When it comes to cre­at­ing a hobo din­ner, there are a few things to re­mem­ber: Al­ways slice your meat and veg­gies thin; place the foil packet on coals rather than flames; and, cook the meat side first us­ing plenty of mois­ture, like but­ter or olive oil.

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