Sunday, January 20, 2008

Exotic Meat? Hell, I’m Game!

On Saturday night Dan went out to dine at a new Ruth’s Chris in Madison, WI for a prime slab of gastronomic lusciousness. He wrote about it too. I’m jealous.

A tender cut of prime beef gets no argument from me. Nope. I have had lunch at the Ruth’s Chris location just north of the river in downtown Chicago a few times. They do something to that steak before they serve it that gives it a very unique flavor I have not noticed at any other prime steakhouse. Everyone should try it. My bar on steaks is set quite high and Ruth’s cooks one of the finest.

At about the same time Dan was feasting on prime beef last Saturday night a cousin of mine was hosting a wild game dinner in Highland, Indiana. Our get-together was a far cry from the luxurious ambience of a Ruth’s Chris as you can get. Picture a cinder block unfinished basement with a vintage 10’ mahogany slate bed snooker table with leather net pockets as the main point-of-interest on a concrete floor in a home more than 40 years old. Stereotypical Indiana living at it’s best I tells ‘ya.

In the past I have made it well known that hunting and fishing are traditional, wholesome outdoor activities that are a passion of mine since I was a ten-year old brat. Not only do these activities provide a pleasant way for me to enjoy the outdoors and relax during free time, the real reward is to cook and eat my final results. This is food you cannot find at the local grocery or megamart. PE*A extremists be damned!

My cousin, Dr. Bob is about eight years older than me. He is a dentist. Being a part of our Polish–American family (love using that hyphenated ethnic reference, how liberal of me) he and the others also love to hunt and fish.

Ever notice how dentists seem to have a six-foot marlin, sailfish or other stuffed wildlife hanging in the waiting room? Dentists for some reason have a unique connection with outdoor activities other than golf, which most healthcare professionals seem to prefer.

SIDEBAR: Greg Knowles is a writer who has published his adventures and fishing experiences in Northwestern Ontario with his dentist buddy, Doc. It’s a very funny book with stories I can personally relate to since I have fished those same waters for years. The appropriate comic illustrations in the book are done by (who knew?), another dentist dude. Check it out at:

http://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Misadventures-Northwest-Ontario-Fisherman/dp/0929384407

Dr. Bob and his brother Butch were always known as passionate fishermen and when hunting their game of choice was rabbits. Rabbit is a meal I had not enjoyed for a decade or more. When I first heard they were gathering the usual suspects for a wild game dinner I had a feeling that rabbit would be on the menu. They did not disappoint me.

When first contacted about this feast over a month ago no mention was made about the menu items at all. Why ask? Another item I had a feeling would be on the menu was elk. In the past they often spoke of having elk roast on Christmas Eve at their traditional holiday dinner. Yep, My guess was correct. Elk roast was also on the menu. Hot Dayumn!

They served a buffet style choice of:
-Buffalo Chili
-Venison Meatballs
-Braised quail with wild rice
-Elk roast with noodles and gravy
-Braised rabbit



Here is my wild-ass culinary review. Four dots (••••) being excellent

•••Buffalo Chili.
Robust, with a very meaty flavor. Spiced a bit light as I would have kicked it up a notch or two. BAM! Served with onions and cheese it was just the way I liked it.

••Venison Meatballs.
A bit on the dry side but tasty. Venison must be cut with lots of fat be it beef or pork since it is an extremely lean meat. When using venison as ground meat adding fat is a must. Be it meatloaf, sausage or in this case meatballs, venison begs for moisture. Grilling venison steaks or chops over an open flame should be grilled as you would beef, no additional fat enhancements are necessary. These balls needed some juice.

••••Braised Quail with Wild Rice.
This was the best of all. Quail is prized by culinary experts and rightly so. But partridge, especially chukkar partridge, is my personal favorite game bird of all.

•••Elk Roast with Noodles and Gravy.
The roast was a touch overcooked for my taste but surprisingly tender and juicy. If Doc would have taken it out sooner it would have been the hit of the feast. Elk is kind of a cross between venison and buffalo. I could not believe how tender it was.

••••Braised Rabbit.
If you have ever heard the comment “tastes like chicken” it definitely applies to rabbit. Probably because the texture is so much like chicken. The taste has more flavor than chicken as you know it. This was one bunny Elmer Fudd did not miss. What's Up, Doc?...WHAP!

The event was most enjoyable even if I had to travel 25 miles in sub-zero Gorebal Warmth. Doc had a few others over whom I did not know but along with the usual suspects we all had two things in common. We all love hunting and fishing along with the enjoyment of consuming the fruit of nature.

Good friends, good sportsmen and good food. Yes.

This was truly an experience of Life In The Great Midwest!

BREAKING NEWS AS I WRITE:

The Green Bay Peckers lose to the New York Giants in overtime on a Giants field goal as I hit the PUBLISH POST button.

Brent Farve...NO SOUPerbowl FOR YOU!

3 comments:

johnnyj said...

Ha Ha...Hilarious, Gerry...If I had to pick between Ruth's "Chrsth" or your meal posted here...I'm dinning with you.
Looks good!

Dan from Madison said...

Awesome feed!

Gerry from Valpo said...

Thanks for the kind words JJ and Dan. But given the choice I would go for a Ruth's Crith filet over home cooked game any day.

Waitress! One double Bombay® Sapphire Gibson for me and one for each of my good friends JJ and Dan, please. Oh, and extra onions too.