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Chukar Chasing Energy Bars

Energy Bar
This season I will be joining Ultimate Upland’s crew in Idaho for some backcountry upland hunting.  As I prepare for the trip I can’t help but think about provisions for this physically challenging hunt.  Days spent climbing up the mountains chasing after chukar can leave you calorie deficit pretty quick. So to combat that I will be bringing my own energy bars.When formulating a recipe for homemade granola bars there are some important factors to consider: nutrient density, glycemic index, shelf life and practicality.

I made a list of all the nuts, seeds, sugars and dried fruit I could think of and ranked them from high to low based on calories, fat and protein. The ingredients I chose are a combination of the highest amount I could economically formulate without compromising the texture or flavor.

The glycemic index is a rating of how quickly carbohydrates raise blood sugar.  When sugar is ingested your pancreas reacts by releasing insulin, causing your blood sugar levels to spike.  In order to combat that rise of sugar, carbs get used up fast which results in the dreaded “crash” afterwards. Fiber and fat slow down this fast burn but its better to avoid high glycemic sweeteners, these include refined and processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.  Honey is considered to be lower on the glycemic scale and choose whole dried fruit that doesn’t have any extra added sugar (HFCS). It does cost a little more to do it this way but it’s much healthier for you.

With this consideration in mind, you’ll notice chia seeds are on the ingredient list. These little bitty seeds are considered to be a superfood for many reasons. They are high in protein but also have an amazing ability to absorb liquid and plump up in size.  Chia seeds help stabilize blood sugar levels because they gelatinize in the stomach, slowing digestion and sustaining your energy levels.

In order to increase shelf life its important that these ingredients remain as dry as possible, you don’t want any ingredients with a high water content. Another thing I don’t want to use is dairy which is why my recipe calls for cocoa nibs instead of chocolate chips. Cocoa nibs are simply crushed and roasted cocoa beans. These little morsels don’t have any dairy or sugar added but when mixed in with all the honey it still tastes like chocolate chips.

The recipe below sounds more complicated than it really is and I promise there is a valid reason for the steps. If you just add the honey to the dry ingredients without heating first they will always remain sticky and annoying to deal with in the field.  You want to gently boil the honey to caramelize the sugars so that when it cools the ingredients will harden together. Use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature because if the sugar gets too hot the honey will harden like brittle resulting in over crumbly bars that hurt your teeth, and if it’s too low it will remain too soft and sticky.

Finally, remember that these tasty little candy bars are really high in calories. Try to keep those greedy hands away when cooking in the kitchen and save them for the field when your body really needs them, although that didn’t stop me from having one or two while I typed this article up. Have a safe and happy hunting season this year!

Makes 12 large bars

Chocolate Cherry Bar

Chukar Chasing Energy Bar

Course Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 bars
Author Danielle Prewett

Ingredients

  • 1 C. Steel Cut Oats
  • 2 C. Almonds
  • 1/2 C. Almond Meal*
  • 1/4 C. Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 C. Hemp Seeds*
  • 1 C. Dried Cherries
  • 1/2 C. Cocoa Nibs*
  • 3 Pinches of Salt
  • 1 C. Honey
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • Parchment Paper
  • Candy Thermometer

Instructions

Method:

  1. Line a 1/4 or 1/2 sheet tray with parchment paper.  If you want thick bars use the small tray and fill to top or use larger sheet pan and spread for thinner bars.  Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Use a food processor, blender or chopper and pulse the almonds until you reach a coarse consistency.  Place in a large bowl and add the oats, almond meal, chia seeds, hemp or sunflower seeds, cocoa nibs and salt.  Use a knife and roughly chop the dried cherries and add to the bowl.  Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pot heat the honey and vanilla over medium-low heat.  Insert a candy thermometer and watch the temperature as you gently boil.  Once you have reached exactly 250 degrees remove from heat and slowly pour in to the bowl with dry ingredients, stirring continuously.  Mix the liquids into the dry well using a spatula and then press into the parchment lined sheet tray.  Be patient with this step and press into all of the edges trying to level out into an even layer without any gaps.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes to set.  Remove and let cool to the touch, they will begin to harden at this point.  Lift the parchment off the sheet pan and onto a cutting board and slice into even rectangles.  Use a spatula to separate each bar and flip over onto another clean piece of parchment paper to let the bottom side, which might be sticky with honey, dry out.  Leave these sitting out to fully cool and dry for at least a couple hours or longer. Cut rectangular pieces of parchment paper out and layer a sheet in-between each bar to store inside of a ziplock bag.
  5. These bars should be shelf stable for well over a week or two.

Recipe Notes

* Substitute almond meal with peanut butter powder or take extra whole almonds and grind in food processor/blender until you reach a powder consistency.

*  Substitute hemp seeds with Sunflower Seeds/Pepitas

If you can’t find cocoa nibs or don’t want to use it you can substitute with mini chocolate chips  but beware a shorter shelf life and potentially a melting mess in hands.

17.83 g Fat
10.45 g Protein

Visit Wild + Whole for more great game recipes for your birds this season. 

 

Tough Old Rooster Cakes

Pheasant in Brine

How do you know when you’ve harvested a three-year-old rooster? When you have to chew it until the next season to swallow it.

Tough old birds are challenging and fun to chase. But part of that challenge is making them fit for the table. On principle, most hunters will choke down just about anything they shoot — ethics require it. But how do you get that old bird tasty enough to serve guests?

Last year I noticed the birds I harvested lacked the pristine, market-fresh appearance of many of the game chefs filling social feeds with haute cuisine photos. Between my average shooting skills and a young dog with tendencies toward plucking and too much teeth, I was lucky to have birds returned to hand in one piece, let alone pristine. The truth is, some birds just aren’t that pretty when they enter the freezer.

So I started thinking about recipes that might redeem the old, shot up roosters that reside in the back corners of the freezer.

Brining is an easy way to improve quality of an old bird. For this recipe we brined pheasant breasts overnight in the refrigerator in a solution of equal parts salt and sugar with a few lemon slices.

Wild pheasant meat tends to be very lean which can make it tough and dry once cooked. The addition of mayo and bacon adds moisture and flavor as well as binding the cakes.

Pheasant, Bacon and Green Onions

Tough Old Rooster Cakes

Reviving less pristine birds into a dish fit for family and friends. 

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 pheasant cakes

Ingredients

  • 4 pheasant breasts
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup green onions
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. After brining overnight, dice pheasant breasts into half inch cubes

  2. Pre-cook strips of bacon - you want to stop prior to crispy stage. Let it cool and then chop into small pieces. 

  3. In a bowl combine the diced pheasant, bacon, half of the green onions and half the Panko with the mayonnaise. You're looking for a texture like tuna salad, depending on the moisture level of your birds you may need to adjust the mixture with more/less bread crumb or mayo. 

  4. Add a dash of salt and pepper, then form the mixture into patties. 

  5. Press those patties into the remaining half of the Panko to cover both sides. 

  6. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet. We're not shooting for super-high temps, so olive, peanut or vegetable oil should work just fine, possibly even butter .....  

    Place over medium heat. 

  7. Once the oil is heated, place your pheasant cakes in the skillet. The trick here is to not fuss with them. There isn't much filler or binder in these cakes, so you're going for a single flip of each. Otherwise, you risk them falling apart. 

  8. Allow the crust to form, 4-5 minutes per side. 

    The small cubes of meat along with the high moisture content let these cook quickly. 

  9. Garnish with the remaining diced green onion. 

  10. If you have more birds, it's easy to adjust quantities. One strip of bacon per breast.

Recipe Notes

The crisp outsides of these pheasant cakes add a great texture note. 

We tried a couple of options for serving.

Simple and lighter: place cakes on a bed of green with a couple slices of avocado and a squeeze of lemon. 

OR

Seasonal and decadent: place cakes on wild rice and smother in morel cream sauce (recipe below). 

Pheasant Cakes


For those fortunate enough to live where morels are available in the spring, they are a great compliment to these cakes and can make this appetizer a decadent seasonal treat. I made a morel cream sauce separating the fungus in half – reserving the nicer shrooms for frying.

morel mushrooms

Diced Morels

Morel Cream Sauce

So simple and good. Tough to think of anything that morel cream sauce won't improve.

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 mess foraged morel mushrooms the more you find, the better
  • 1 pint half-n-half
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 4 TBSP flour
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. This part of the country, we soak our morels in saltwater for an hour after finding to kill bugs, slugs and the like. 

  2. Split your mess into nicer morels for frying and smaller, older, dryer morels for the sauce. 

  3. Put a rough chop on the morels selected for the sauce. We probably had two dozen total mushrooms for this recipe, so we chopped a dozen. 

  4. In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped morels and a pinch of salt. Allow them to cook until you see the edges begin to brown. And the morels have now flavored the butter. 

  5. Add the flour while stirring which coats the mushrooms and soaks up the butter making a roux.

  6. Slowly add half-n-half while stirring. As it heats it will thicken. Add until your sauce reaches the desired thickness. 

  7. Slice the other morels in half, dredge in equal parts of corn starch and flour and begin frying them in a skillet with butter. Across much of the Midwest this is the standard preparation, though we've just recently found the corn starch seems to make them a bit crispier. 

Recipe Notes

For those not lucky enough to find large quantities of mushrooms, this simple cream sauce can stretch that morel flavor to anything you put it on. 

The second half of fried morels make a great texture contrast and attractive garnish as well. 

Rooster Cake with Morel Cream

Grilled Pheasant + Mojo Sauce

Whole Pheasant Grilled

This spatchcocked, grilled pheasant is probably one of the more satisfying meals I have made with wild game to date. The crispy skin is full of flavor from a homemade dry rub, the meat is tender and juicy, and the citrus-garlic Mojo sauce is so delicious.

Cuban Mojo Sauce

This Mojo sauce has it all: Sweet, Sour, Garlicky, and a little bit of kick. It’s great for serving as a dipping sauce with meat, fish and veggies, or you can use it as a marinade. It’s really easy to make and the recipe below yields about 2 Cups. You can always freeze what you don’t use, but I am willing to bet you put this sauce on any and everything.

Mojo sauce is definitely for garlic lovers, the Cubans did not skimp out when they created it. This recipe has 8 cloves in it, which seems like a lot, but somehow it works and it is so delicious!

This sauce really packs a punch which is why it’s so addicting. Traditionally, Mojo is made using sour oranges. Because I live in North Dakota and can’t get that, I used a blend of oranges and limes. A traditional Mojo would also have cumin and oregano in it, but I chose to leave them out because they are in the dry rub, and instead, used cilantro and jalapeños.

Spatchcock Pheasant

How to Spatchcock a Pheasant

Spatchcocked, also called Butterflied, is an easy way to break down a whole bird that you want to be grilled a little quicker and with a little more consistency.

To start, make sure the pheasant you use is in good shape (i.e. the legs aren’t shot into a million bone fragments). You can pluck the bird and keep the skin on, but you can also do skinless. If you choose to do skinless, you can marinate the pheasant in the Mojo sauce. But, if you want the skin to be really crispy, use the dry rub instead and follow the guidelines and get the full recipe at Wild + Whole.

Grilled White-tailed Ptarmigan Beurre Blanc

Ptarmigan Recipe

One of the side benefits of seemingly endless hours of asphalt we trade to get to wild places is the opportunity to plot preparation for anything we’re fortunate enough to add to the cooler.

Since it’s the early season and the garden is not yet frozen, green tomatoes seemed like a great compliment for game bird. And what better sauce for simply grilled White-tailed Ptarmigan than beurre blanc, the literal translation “white butter.” Add a buttery chardonnay and it ties it all together.

I suppose if you’re lucky enough to bring good numbers of ptarmigan to hand, you could make an entree of this dish. But it’s rich enough and birds in the lower 48 are hard enough to come by, with the addition of a little wild rice it makes the perfect size appetizer. Might work just as well with Ruffed Grouse or desert quail.

Thank the asphalt for the inspiration of Grilled White-tailed Ptarmigan, Fried Green Tomatoes Beurre Blanc and some of our other creations like Pheasant Chowder.


Be sure to read about the hunt for these birds in Believers


We’ll post our version of beurre blanc once we’ve got it perfected, bit too much lemon for this first attempt.

 

Linguine and Pheasant Sauce

I tend to just make up recipes, don’t measure out ingredients and promptly forget not long after eating exactly how something came together. So before I forget, here’s a quick and easy pheasant pasta that we cooked up on a whim. Total prep time was around 30 minutes.


Ingredients:

4 pheasant breasts (or combination breasts and thighs)

1/2 Bottle White Wine — be sure it’s something you like to drink too

6 Cloves Garlic

Parsley

Grated Parmesan Cheese

3/4 Stick of Butter

Flour (a few tablespoons)

Half n Half, or cream

Salt, Pepper

Your Favorite Pasta  (we used spinach pasta)

——————————–

First, get your pasta water salted and boiling so that you aren’t waiting for your pasta to cook once you finish the sauce.

On a cutting board pound out your pheasant to a uniform thickness. This helps tenderize tough birds – cover with plastic wrap to keep the mess to a minimum. Next, cut your pheasant across grain in thin strips – think clam size since the inspiration of this recipe is Linguine and Clam Sauce.  Mince the garlic gloves and a good handful of the parsley just so you have all the knife work done.

Place a large skillet on the stove on high heat and begin melting the butter. Once it is good and hot,  slide the pheasant in and begin sautéing. When the meat is cut into this strips like this, it really takes very little time to cook through. Cooking in butter helps keep lean pheasant moist. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and stir. Once your meat is cooked through, sprinkle enough floor into the pan to soak up the remaining butter when mixed – won’t take much, maybe a few tablespoons. We’re using the flour as a thickener.

Now pop the cork on that wine and add about a half bottle, stirring into the meat mixture. Once it comes back up to temperature, you’ll get a good idea of how thick your sauce is. Add more wine if it’s too thick for your liking. Add the handful of parsley and let some of the alcohol continue to burn off.  I like creamy sauces that coat the noodles, so here’s where I included a liberal splash of half-n-half. Finally add the grated parmesan – how much really depends on how cheesy you like it, but 1/4 cup is a good starting place.

Your pasta should be drained and ready to plate. Give your sauce a taste first for seasoning, add pepper and salt as needed. Then spoon a generous helping over your pasta. Garlic bread would be a great addition. Enjoy!

Super Bowl of Pheasant Chili

When you serve some rooster chili everyone is a guaranteed winner.

Pheasant Chili

Super Bowl of Pheasant Chili

Great way to enjoy a game on a cold day. 

Course Main Course
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 Poblano Anaheim peppers chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers chopped
  • 1 Cherry Pepper diced
  • 1 Large Onion chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1-1/2 lb Pheasant breast and thighs 2 birds, 1/2″ cubed
  • 2-3 c. Chicken Broth depending how thick you like your chili
  • 3 cans Cannelini Beans drained
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 t. Cumin
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Shredded white cheddar for topping

Instructions

  1. In large pot, saute onion and pheasant in butter until the cubed meat is browned
  2. Season with salt, white pepper and cumin
  3. Add the pepper trio
  4. Cook on med-high until peppers are soft
  5. Add garlic
  6. Add chicken broth to desired consistency (2-3 cups)
  7. Purée one can of beans and fold into the mix, they act as a thickener.
  8. Add the other two cans of whole beans

Recipe Notes

Simmer until thickens, about one hour or longer if thicker consistency desired. Serve with tortilla chips and top with a big handful of cheese

Enjoy!

 

Pheasant Chowder

2 pheasants (thighs and breasts)
4 celery stalks sliced
1/2 lb. bacon strips sliced
1 large onion diced
32 oz. of chicken broth (low sodium if desired)
4 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes – peeled and cubed
3 cloves garlic diced
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups half n half
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Had an epiphany while eating clam chowder one evening; the texture of the clams in the soup is truly close to that of a tough old rooster. Hope you enjoy the resulting culinary concoction.

Peel and dice potatoes and place in a separate pot cover with the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they are soft.

Slice the pheasant meat across grain into strips similar to the size of a clam strip. Slice bacon and put in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add diced celery and onion and cook until the the bacon and celery is cooked through and onions are transparent. Add the garlic and pheasant. The meat should cook through fairly quickly because of the small sized pieces. At this point add the flour a tablespoon at a time while stirring the mixture which should thoroughly coat the vegetables and meat.

Add the potatoes and broth from the separate pot. Once incorporated stir in the half-n-half and finally include the parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. This chowder is ready to eat once heated through, but if you simmer for a bit the flavors should continue to meld and it will only get better.

Serve on a cold day with some warm beer bread. It is the perfect meal to follow a brisk day afield.

chowder.jpg