hunting for dinner

Hunting for Dinner: Sandhill crane au poivre

jamie carlson at cooks

I have been working with Cooks of Crocus Hill on a setting up a wild game cooking class and earlier this month, my first class took place. It was a huge step outside my comfort zone and I will admit that I was nervous as hell going into it. I think as a cook I am always afraid that I don’t know as much as I think I do and that I am going to fail. Or worse, one of my dishes is going to fail. 


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Hunting for Dinner: Fried panfish spring rolls

spring rolls

For many fishermen, visions of a 30-inch walleye or a 50-inch musky are what drive them to get out there and fish. I love catching a big fish just as much as the next guy, but for me the real trophy is what ends up on the plate. A huge walleye would look great hanging above the fireplace, but more than likely it wouldn’t be that great to eat. Here in Minnesota the walleye is king, everybody loves catching them and most everybody loves eating them. I am the exception to that rule. I would rather catch a stringer full of perch or sunfish. 


There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, they are usually easier to catch. Small pan fish like perch, sunfish, bluegills and rock bass are usually the first fish we catch when we are little. When you get into a school of pan fish, the action is usually nonstop and you can catch them one after another and end up with a limit of good eaters in no time at all. 


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Hunting for Dinner: Squirrel and dumplings


It's been almost two years exactly since I wrote my first article for Simple Good & Tasty, about taking my mother squirrel hunting for the very first time. Over the past two years, I've received some very good feedback about that article and best of all, I ended up meeting Mike Pugsley.

A career musician in his 50s, Mike has been an avid shooter for most of his life but only hunted a couple times 20 years ago. He was interested in getting into hunting and doing some research online when he came across my squirrel article, in which I noted that I frequently take new hunters out and introduce them to the outdoors. After he called, and talked about squirrel hunting, we set up a time to go out. 


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Hunting for Dinner: Salmon burgers, fresh as you can get


My father-in-law, Ted, has a beautiful king salmon that he caught, mounted and hung in his closet. I've heard the story about how he caught that fish a few times. He likes to tell everyone that he hung it in the closet so that he can look at it twice every day — once in the morning when he gets his coat to leave, and once in the evening when he hangs up his coat. It really is a magnificent fish and I've found myself looking in the closet from time to time, thinking about the day that I might get the opportunity to catch one similar. 


This year that chance finally came. Ted asked me if I'd like to head over to Manitowoc, Wisconsin for a weekend of salmon fishing. I quickly jumped at the opportunity and looked forward to it for months. It was going to be a quick trip leaving Friday morning and returning Sunday afternoon with two days out on the charter, joined by my brother-in-law Zac and his friend Ndefru. 


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Hunting for Dinner: Thoughts on why I hunt

Jamie Carlson in the blind

My last post for Simple, Good and Tasty was about cooking and eating beaver. I figured it would bring a few juvenile comments, but I didn’t expect to start a debate about cruel hunting practices. One reader took offense to the use of traps in killing the beaver, and it started a good conversation about ethical hunting and trapping practices, and making sure the animals we hunt don’t suffer unnecessarily. 


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Hunting for Dinner: Making Coot Edible (and a Recipe for Coot Cotechino)

I have been duck hunting for almost 30 years, and in that time I have shot a lot of ducks. I have also eaten a lot of ducks. Everybody has a favorite kind of duck to eat; mine is the wood duck. To me, there is nothing tastier than a nice, fat wood duck. Wood Ducks have a tendency to eat acorns, and that diet gives their meat a sweeter milder flavor. Most people prefer to eat the mallard because they are a milder flavored duck as well, and many people claim that the canvasback is the finest duck to eat. As far as eating ducks go these three are probably the most revered because of their milder flavor. Wild ducks are much more powerful in flavor than domestic ducks and many people who claim to love eating duck don’t enjoy the taste of wild ducks.

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Hunting for Dinner: Flushing Grouse

I used to go grouse hunting all the time when my grandparents had a cabin on Leech Lake. It was easy for me to go: I would just walk out the back door and off into the woods for the morning or afternoon, and that was all there was to it. But when my grandparents sold their cabin, I stopped grouse hunting, and I haven’t been grouse hunting in over 20 years. So when my brother asked me if I wanted to head up to his in-laws’ land in northern Minnesota to go grouse hunting, I jumped at the opportunity.


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Hunting for Dinner: Snapping Turtles (and a Recipe for General Tso's Turtle)

A couple of years ago I was told about a book called The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, by Steven Rinella. In the book, Rinella tells the tale of being given an old cookbook written by Auguste Escoffier and being inspired to have a feast of all the things he hunts and gathers. Rinella talks about how, pre-Escoffier, he once ate snapping turtle and didn't enjoy the turtle meat because it tasted like a mucky swamp.

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Hunting for Dinner: Boundary Waters Canoe Trip (and a Recipe for Fish Curry)

This is the ninth post in a series about hunting for food -- truly meeting your meat.

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Hunting for Dinner: Bowfishing for Carp (and a Recipe for Carp Ceviche)

This is the eighth post in a series about hunting for food -- truly meeting your meat.

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