A Meal to Re­mem­ber /

Rock Creek, near Mis­soula, Mon­tana, April 6, 2017

SAVEUR - - Contents - Story by AN­THONY LI­CATA • Pho­to­graph by LYNN DON­ALD­SON

Feast­ing on the bounty of pub­lic lands

The veni­son haunches were an af­ter­thought, a pleas­ant sur­prise found among the elk, moose, and mule deer shanks do­nated for the osso buco. Rubbed in bear fat and basted with pick­led ramp vine­gar as they roasted over the flames, they made an ideal late-night meal for the tired, hun­gry vol­un­teers sip­ping local whiskey around the fire.

The an­nual Field to Table din­ner hosted by Back­coun­try Hunters & An­glers is part con­ser­va­tion fund-raiser, part cel­e­bra­tion of the wild bounty of the North­ern Rock­ies.

Five cooks, am­a­teur and pro­fes­sional, cre­ated this feast us­ing game and in­gre­di­ents for­aged, caught, and hunted on the abun­dant pub­lic lands of the West.

That osso buco was served over risotto, made with a stock ex­tracted from the roasted bones of a ram that had lived its life in the moun­tain range loom­ing be­hind us. The wild morels in the sa­vory flan were picked by mem­bers of the group in ar­eas of na­tional forests that had been burned by wild­fires. The flan was served with a rich and com­plex moose con­sommé. The moose was shot south of here in the Big Hole Val­ley. The sweet, fleshy north­ern pike—poached in olive oil and ac­com­pa­nied by pick­led car­rots and spring pea purée— was hooked through the ice of frozen pub­lic lakes.

Back­coun­try mem­bers’ bird dogs were key con­trib­u­tors to a fric­as­see of ap­ple, sage, and Hun­gar­ian par­tridge. It took hunters and dogs, for­agers and fish­er­men, many miles of ex­plor­ing pub­lic grass­lands, moun­tains, lakes, and rivers to gather these in­gre­di­ents—a sat­is­fy­ing re­minder of the im­por­tance of wildlife and wild places, and one of the pret­ti­est and most fun shop­ping trips you could ever take.

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