7 Must-Have's When Cooking Wild Game in the Field

musthave_ingreds_f

I travel a lot for hunting, fishing, and foraging, and often I'm called upon to do the cooking in camp or in the janky kitchen at someone's deer or duck shack. As a former restaurant cook, I normally like to have an array of nice pots and pans, produce, oils, fresh meats, and dried herbs and spices handy.

Well, this ain't happenin' when you cook on the tailgate of your truck after a duck hunt or around a campfire in the backcountry after a fruitless day looking for elk. In these situations, I bust out my culinary version of a "bug out" bag.

With a few key ingredients, all of which are light, hardy, and tasty, I can make a damn good meal just about anywhere.


What to bring? Cooking oil, salt, onions, garlic, dried herbs and spices, dried mushrooms and fruits, vinegar or citrus, some booze, and a stash of bouillon cubes. These ingredients will last quite a while in a secure box you can keep in your vehicle. They can be as fancy or as mundane as you'd like. Let me break down this list.


Oil or Fat


Unless you like boiled food or feel like roasting everything on a stick, oils or fats are a must. Olive oil will keep in a dark place for a year, so having some handy will make your life in the field a lot easier. Skip the cooking fats, like butter and lard, as they can go rancid quickly.

Salt, Herbs and Spices

You'd be surprised how often people forget salt and spices. A trout roasted over an open fire is nice, but a trout roasted over an open fire with a sprinkle of salt is magical. Likewise with the dried herbs and spices. Black pepper, thyme, oregano, caraway, you name it. Tip: Get some little plastic bags and put the herbs and spices in those'¦much lighter than glass jars.


Onions & Garlic

Both are foundational ingredients in no small part because yellow storage onions and properly cured garlic can last up to a year. Virtually no other vegetables will keep as long or are as versatile in the kitchen.

Dried Mushrooms & Fruits


A few reconstituted morels or other mushrooms can turn a simple soup sexy. Add a handful of chopped dried fruit to a pan sauce for that fish you just caught or that venison tenderloin from the morning and you have the makings of a gourmet meal.

Vinegar or Citrus  

In the restaurant we try to balance sweet and sour, savory and spicy. Many dishes are nice by themselves, but come alive with a bit of acidity. A small bottle of vinegar or a few lemons or limes will provide that in the field. Citrus will keep for a couple weeks on the road. Vinegar will last forever, but the tradeoff is that it's another bottle to bring.

Booze

Brandy, wine, and whiskey are the most versatile alcohols — both to drink and to cook with. A splash of brandy in the pan after cooking freshly killed mallards just seems to elevate things. Ditto for a glug of white wine after trout fishing.

Bouillon Cubes

Normally, I hate these things, but they are useful for cooking wild game in the field. Drop a cube into boiling water and you have soup. Add half a cube to a pan sauce and you've seasoned it and added a punch of flavor at the same time. Bouillon will never replace good broth, but it's a helluva lot lighter.

To bring it all together, check out the recipe on the next page. I am doing it with a duck breast, but the same recipe will work with venison of any kind, beef, lamb, or goat. If you are cooking fish or poultry, just switch the red wine to white.

The Day's Catch with Morels and Red Wine

musthave_ingreds_1Ingredients

1 cup water

Small handful of dried mushrooms

4 duck or chicken breasts, venison medallions, steaks, fish fillets, etc.

Salt

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Splash of red wine, about ¼ cup

½ bouillon cube

Black pepper

Preparation

If the meat was refrigerated, take it out to come to room temperature. Salt it well.

Crumble the dried mushrooms in water to soften. Let them soak while you chop the onion and the garlic.

When the mushrooms are soft enough to cut, carefully take them out of the water, which will have turned brown. Chop the mushrooms small and set aside. Keep the soaking water.

Put the cooking oil in a frying pan and get it nice and hot. If you have paper towels, pat the meat dry before laying it into the pan — skip this step if you're short of paper towels. Sear the meat hard on one side until a crust forms and then releases from the pan. This will take about eight minutes with most meats, about four minutes with fish. Turn the meat and cook until done, about two or three minutes more, depending on the meat or fish. Move the meat to a plate.

To make the sauce: Add the chopped onion and mushrooms and stir-fry over high heat until the onions brown at the edges. Add the garlic and thyme and cook another minute. Add the wine. Carefully pour the water from soaking the mushrooms into the pan, making sure that no mushroom debris gets into the pan; strain this liquid through a paper towel if you have one. Add the ½ bouillon cube. Boil this down by half.

Pour the sauce over the meat and grind some black pepper over everything.

Recommended for You

These are the must-apply units for trophy elk, mule deer, and antelope in the West. North America

The Best Units for Hunting Elk, Mule Deer & Antelope

Chuck Smock

These are the must-apply units for trophy elk, mule deer, and antelope in the West.

These four hunts will test your endurance. North America Big Game

North America's Toughest Black Bear Hunts

Brad Fitzpatrick

These four hunts will test your endurance.

Whether you're looking for a whitetail, bruin or waterfowl adventure, Saskatchewan can be the place for you. North America

From Bucks to Bears to Ducks, Saskatchewan Is a Hunter's Heaven

Lynn Burkhead - February 05, 2019

Whether you're looking for a whitetail, bruin or waterfowl adventure, Saskatchewan can be the...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 11: Wheelgun Buffalo

Host Craig Boddington lays claim to hunting more than 100 Cape Buffalo over the course of his 40 plus year career, but he never took one with a handgun. That changed in South Africa when Craig faced down "black death" with a magnum wheelgun.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

Cheeseburger Poppers

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the whitetail North America

Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States

Joseph von Benedikt - December 18, 2017

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the...

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field. Ammo

America's Top 10 Big Game Cartridges

Joseph von Benedikt

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field.

From trajectory to penetration to recoil, we evaluate this cartridge for the big-game use case. Ammo

Is the .308 the Perfect North American Big Game Cartridge?

Richard Mann

From trajectory to penetration to recoil, we evaluate this cartridge for the big-game use...

See More Stories

More Recipes

A comforting soup recipe featuring lean rabbit meat, vegetables, and thick dumplings in a homemade stock. Recipes

Rabbit and Dumplings Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

A comforting soup recipe featuring lean rabbit meat, vegetables, and thick dumplings in a...

This Braised Elk Venison Shoulder With Salsa Verde Recipe is a great dish to serve on special occasions. Recipes

Braised Elk Venison Shoulder With Salsa Verde Recipe

Robert Sweeney

This Braised Elk Venison Shoulder With Salsa Verde Recipe is a great dish to serve on special...

This cure and glaze combo gives great flavor to any big cat! Recipes

Cured & Smoked Bobcat Ham Recipe

Michael Pendley

This cure and glaze combo gives great flavor to any big cat!

See More Recipes

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.