Kill it and grill it

The Nuge ex­plains the Palin diet

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY GABRIELLA BOS­TON

Moose burg­ers?

Well, yes, wild game — though not widely hunted, served or sold in ur­ban ar­eas — is the name of the game for many Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing peo­ple like Repub­li­can vi­cepres­i­den­tial can­di­date Gov. Sarah Palin and hunter-rock-star Ted Nu­gent.

“Veni­son is per­fect food,” says Mr. Nu­gent (who, by the way, is a huge Palin fan and called her “a po­lit­i­cal sav­ior” in a re­cent col­umn for Hu­man­ via e-mail from Jack­son, Mich., where he’s record­ing an au­dio ver­sion of his book “Ted, White, and Blue: The Nu­gent Man­i­festo,” which comes out later this fall.

Jack­son is also where Mr. Nu­gent hunts.

“We hunt, fish and trap all le­gal re­new­able game,” Mr. Nu­gent says.

This in­cludes rab­bit, fox, elk, grouse and his fa­vorite, veni­son.

“Young veni­son over hot coals, smoth­ered in gar­lic and but­ter, rare, with fam­ily and friends in the great out­doors around a fire, with a slug of good African red wine,” Mr. Nu­gent says of his fa­vorite food and set­ting. His method of hunt­ing? “We cel­e­brate all le­gal method­olo­gies,” he says, in­di­cat­ing that he tracks, hunts from blinds and traps, us­ing bow and ar­row as well as firearms.

OK, so that’s wild man Nuge’s way.

For the rest of us, who don’t hunt but might go to a place like Whole Foods (which sells a va­ri­ety of game) and buy a cut of veni­son or buf­falo, how to pre­pare it?

“In gen­eral, it’s not hard to pre­pare game,” says Sarah Ka­gan, food ed­i­tor at Epi­cu­ri­, a Conde Nast food Web site with more than 35,000 pro­fes­sion­ally tested recipes, “but you usu­ally have to lower the cook­ing tem­per­a­ture and mar­i­nate the meat to get the gamey fla­vor out.”

There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween game bought at places like Whole Foods (which is farm raised) and wild game (the type the Nuge would pre­pare and eat).

“Wild an­i­mals ba­si­cally have a tougher life,” Ms. Ka­gan says.

The tougher life makes for tougher meat.

This is why mar­i­nat­ing is so im­por­tant for wild game. In fact, skimp­ing on mari­nade can make eat­ing game more like chew­ing through leather.

Ms. Ka­gan rec­om­mends mar­i­nat­ing wild game for up to 24 hours in an acidic prepa­ra­tion — to break down the mus­cle fiber — that might in­clude red wine, ju­niper berries, rose­mary and all­spice.

“They bal­ance out the fla­vor,” she says.

Yet even wild game can be mar­i­nated too long, she cau­tions.

“It can break down to the point of get­ting mushy,” she says. “You don’t want that.”

Store-bought game, such as veni­son, on the other hand, needs less time mar­i­nat­ing (a few hours) and can be treated more like reg­u­lar beef in terms of cook­ing time and tem­per­a­ture as well as prepa­ra­tion, she says.

Whole Foods usu­ally car­ries some game, such as veni­son, buf­falo, quail, duck and pheas­ant, says store spokes­woman Kristin Gross.

“We’re more likely to have it in the win­ter, par­tic­u­larly duck and pheas­ant,” Ms. Gross says, “but cus­tomers can spe­cial or­der our game meats any


time year.” The one game meat Whole Foods doesn’t sell is rab­bit, she says. “It’s just too ex­pen­sive to raise and process,” she ex­plains. Aside from the fla­vor — which many peo­ple as­so­ciate with the hol­i­day sea­son in late fall and early win­ter — game meats, in­clud­ing veni­son and buf­falo, of­ten have lower lev­els of choles­terol and sat­u­rated fats — and are leaner over­all.

“Even farmed veni­son is def­i­nitely leaner than beef,” Ms. Ka­gan says.

An­other ap­peal for many peo­ple is to “broaden their culi­nary hori­zons and try some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” she says.

To hun­ters like Mr. Nu­gent, though, it’s not just about the fla­vor­ful meat and its healthy prop­er­ties. It’s also about the hunt and its en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects.

“It’s the last per­fect, 100 per­cent nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity that keeps the earth and wildlife bal­anced and healthy while pro­vid­ing the finest health food known to mankind; plus, it is both phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally in­vig­o­rat­ing,” he says.

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