At last, rabbits!

3 07 2008

Throughout the spring, because I don’t want to spend the money to hunt pig on private ranches, I suffer from  hunting withdrawal.  So by the time July 1 rolls around, I’m ready to hunt anything.  Just give me a field, a shotgun, and something to chase!  The answer is rabbit.  On July 1 the brush cottontail season opened, and this coming weekend I’ll be in my favorite canyon, flushing brushies and jacks.

These little creatures are surprisingly fun to hunt.  They run fast, break without warning, and turn out great in a stewpot.  We typically hunt with number 6 shot, but I tried number 4 last time out and found it very satisfactory, with better knockdown for the sturdy jackrabbits and a sure, clean kill on the cottons.  You are likely to find the jacks in grassy areas, where they will run fast and erratically, relying on their speed to reach cover before you can take them down.  Flush the cottons from brush, like sparse chaparral, on the slopes.  They will break fast and run for cover.  The window of opportunity for a shot is small, and you’ll have to swing the shotgun quickly.

The jacks, which are considerably larger than cottontails, produce a dark, beefy looking meat that you’ll want to debone and dice for stews or pot pies.   Don’t forget the backstrap when butchering them.  Cottontails are smaller, produce an almost white meat, and the only real worthwhile meat is found on the hind legs. Cook the legs whole on the bone.  My favorite is chicken fried.  For another very tasty idea, go to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook for this very nice Greek Rabbit Stew. 

So enjoy some fast paced, fun, early hunting in the rabbit season, and put some different game on your table this summer.

UPDATE

For the British take on rabbit hunting, go to Suburban Bushwacker’s post on rabbit hunting.  He also has a tasty-looking recipe for rabbit here.

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A Proper Breakfast

11 12 2007

Over the last few years I have been dismayed at the dearth of knowledge in our general social circle around the subject of a proper breakfast — what it is and how to prepare it.  So now, for the enjoyment of my fellow sportsmen/gastronomes, I describe my favorite breakfast.

 We start by making biscuits.  The recipe is:

 Preheat oven to 425 degrees

 In a mixing bowl, combine:

 1 ½ cups of white flower

½ cup whole wheat flower

1 tablespoon of baking powder

dash of salt

 Add 1/3 cup of shortening, and cut in with pastry blender until it resembles a coarse meal.

 Add one cup of milk and stir gently until all the flour is wet. 

 Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead gently for about 30 seconds.  Roll out to about ¾ inch thick and cut with round biscuit cutter.  Place on baking sheet with sides not touching, about ½ inch apart.

 Bake until tops are golden brown.

 We continue by frying bacon. 

(A good venison sausage could always be substituted for the bacon if you have some bacon grease handy to cook the eggs in.)

Smoked is best.  The kinds with maple sweeteners don’t work well, so avoid them.  Choose something thick if you can find it, and don’t spend too much time worrying about getting the leanest bacon.  Fat is what makes bacon valuable, and delicious.

 To fry the bacon, start with a cold skillet.  Cut the bacon into lengths that don’t exceed the skillet’s diameter.  Fry them on medium heat, turning frequently to help keep the bacon from curling up.  Don’t use a flattener.  It gives the bacon a factory look that robs the presentation of its rustic nature.  Drain the bacon as you remove it from the pan and place it on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess grease.  If you allow grease to pool under the bacon it will be excessively greasy when you serve it.

 Breakfast, first and foremost, means eggs. 

 Everything else about the breakfast is designed to maximize the enjoyment of the eggs, which, for a proper breakfast, must be fried.  Frying an egg requires some technique, and the right equipment.

 

To properly fry an egg, use an eight or nine inch skillet in which you have just cooked bacon.  The temperature of the grease should be hot, but not smoking.  If it smokes, the drippings will burn and ruin the flavor of the fat.  Break two eggs into the skillet low over the surface so as not to break the yolks.  Let them cook until the white part no longer appears translucent.  It should be almost cooked through.  If you don’t cook it long enough, they will tear when you try to turn them.

 Turn the eggs and let them cook just long enough to finish the whites.  About ten or fifteen seconds will do it.  The yolk of a properly fried egg is never hard and   the edges should develop a slightly crispy brown margin.  When you turn them, you will notice bacon drippings stuck to the egg.  This is highly desirable and a key to the wonderful flavor you seek.

 The biscuits and bacon will probably be done at about the same time.  This is good because of all the items on the plate it is most critical for the egg to be served hot.  It should be the last thing to go on the plate.  If your biscuits are done early, you can just leave them in the oven with the door propped open slightly to keep them warm.

 Plate the biscuits, eggs, and bacon.  Serve with softened butter and your favorite jam, or even better, some honey.

 Add a cup of strong black coffee, and you’re ready to enjoy.

 This meal takes practice.  Timing, turning eggs, and getting the skillet temperature right are skills acquired through experience.   Don’t be discouraged.  The rewards are great, and your family and friends will crave your “proper breakfasts!”





Venison Sausage

20 11 2007

 

We killed a mule deer this fall.  Opening day in the Sequoia National Forest, we took down a 2×2 buck.  It was a downhill shot with my .270 (Remington Model 700) from about 65 yards.  Clean, one shot kill behind the left shoulder.  We had to drag it a couple hundred yards out to the road where the Jeep was parked.  It was hard work.  My eleven-year-old son helped.

Now we eat.  So here’s my recipe for Venison Sausage:

Grind 1 ½ pounds of fresh venison and ¼ pound of bacon.

Mix with the following:

            2 Teaspoons of salt

            1 Tablespoon sage

            1 Teaspoon thyme

            1 teaspoon black pepper

            ¼ Teaspoon cayenne pepper

            2 cloves crushed garlic

Mix well.  Form into patties and fry in skillet.