Streams

Hunting for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some locavores seeking to establish their food cred might recount harrowing tales of foraging for wild ramps or oyster mushrooms. But the group that truly deserves the splashy neon label of “x-treme”?  Hunters—those nature enthusiasts who go out there to track and kill their own source of protein. That’s about as hardcore as it gets when it comes to food.

“Right now, everybody is interested in where their food comes from,” says Anthony Licata, the editor of Field & Stream magazine. “Hunters are the original locavores.” Licata, who grew up in rural Pennsylvania, works in Manhattan, and recently penned the article "The Plea: Please Remember the Liver," recently spoke with All Things Considered Host Amy Eddings about the wild game served at America's very first Thanksgiving.

More than just a bonus round of gobbling creatures in Big Buck Hunter, turkey can be broken down into three catagories: the packaged, grocery-store-type of beast typically found in supermarkets across the country, heritage birds purchased at specialty grocery stores, and truly wild turkeys, which can only be found at the end of a rifle sight.

Licata says it is well worth the effort to get out into the woods and bag a turkey yourself. “On a wild turkey, breast meat is almost like dark meat,” he says. “It has a lot of the moisture level, texture and flavor of what you’d think of as dark meat on a domestic bird."

Heritage turkeys, which are domestic breeds that have fallen out of popularity, also have a richer, more intense flavor. But heritage birds, like any other form of game sold at restaurants, are not truly wild. That’s because market hunting, or hunting to supply restaurants, has been illegal since the late 1800s, when the practice decimated much of the country’s wild game. Instead, turkey or venison served on menus are farm-raised wild breeds. Licata explains that much of America’s venison is sourced from New Zealand.

Whether cooking a heritage bird picked up at the farmers’ market, or grilling up the backstrap of a deer recently doing its own foraging in the woods, Licata emphasizes that fresh meat should be cooked differently than supermarket equivalents because it is less fatty. With venison, he suggests either eating it rare or braised, which means cooking it for a long time over low heat.

Below, check out a recipe from the recent issue of Field & Stream for grilled backstrap, the venison equivalent of the loin, or go to the magazine's Web site to get chef Kerry Hefferman’s recipe for wild turkey. And for really hardcore hunters, here’s a video of Licata talking about one woodland critter that makes for good hunting and x-treme eating: squirrel.

 

Click here to get Licata's recipe for Pork Rind-Crusted Fried Squirrel with Molasses Red-Eye Gravy.

Grilled Backstrap With Deer Rub
Recipe by Tim Love, "The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro," Fort Worth, Texas
Serves 4

  • 1 large venison backstrap, all silverskin cleaned
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup deer rub


Deer Rub

  • 2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. long red chile, ground
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1. Let backstrap sit until it reaches room temperature. Rub with peanut oil. Season with the rub.
2. Heat grill (or grill pan) to 400 degrees. Sear for 3 minutes per side.
3. Remove from grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Place back on grill until hot, then slice thin and serve.

Guests:

Anthony Licata

Hosted by:

Amy Eddings

Tags:

More in:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [2]

Liz from New Jersey

Wait, you are a radio station in New York City, right? I began to think you had moved to Kentucky.

Shotguns & rifles in an urban environment don't signal someone is hunting turkeys.

Nov. 19 2010 06:16 AM
Laurie Jean from Old Greenwich

Thank you for this piece. I have seen videos of how factory farm animals and chickens live and it is heartbreaking. I have friends who hunt- they take great care to hit the animal precisely, for a swift death. We eat the meat, my dog gets the carcasses, legs, whatever we don't want. This is far better than having the poor creatures spend their lives in misery in a factory farm to become that packaged food on a shelf.
I don't hunt, but thanks to my friends wo do, I have learned to pluck feathers and butcher all sorts of birds and hope to learn how to butcher a deer this season. And my dog and I eat locally, sustainably and without causing poor animals to live in miserable conditions waiting to become food.
thanks again for this interview.

Nov. 18 2010 07:58 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Sponsored

About Last Chance Foods

Last Chance Foods covers produce that’s about to go out of season, gives you a heads up on what’s still available at the farmers market and tells you how to keep it fresh through the winter.

Feeds

Supported by