Heads up hunters, game lovers, and cooks: Wild foods author Hank Shaw has a cookbook for all creatures antlered–including deer, elk, antelope, moose, and more. The book promises to take readers from nose to tail around the world, with recipes that represent a spectrum of world venison traditions, along with the author’s own creations. Buck, Buck, Moose is Shaw’s third book after his waterfowl cookbook Duck, Duck, Goose and Hunt, Gather, Cook before that. Here’s what the author has to say:
Did you discover some cuisines or preparations you didn’t know about while researching the cookbook?
I did. One thing I learned is that there are lots of cultures where hunting isn’t very common any longer, like India, but where old recipes for venison have become modern recipes for lamb or beef. A lot of modern beef and lamb recipes were once used with venison. Another interesting technique I learned from a Scandinavian cookbook is “frost bump” venison, where you put a roast in a pan still frozen and cook it very slowly all day. The process keeps the meat super tender. No thawing needed!
What are some of your favorite recipes in the book, and why?
I am currently fascinated by Nordic cooking, so there will be a strong Scandinavian current in the book. These nations still cook a lot of moose and deer, and still have a very vibrant venison tradition. I am also keen on the Chinese and Vietnamese recipes, which are adapted from common beef recipes. These Asian dishes are flavor bombs and are often very quick and easy to make.
How do you develop your recipes?
A variety of ways. Some are traditional recipes, and in those cases I read a lot about the dish in question, looking at variations from cook to cook, country to country, and then synthesize it into a dish that has my stamp on it. Some dishes are completely original, like a stew I call Food Plot, which includes all the vegetables you would find in the seed mixes some landowners plant to attract deer to their property.
What process did you use for recipe testing?
I make the dish a few times first, tinkering with it. Then I send it to friends and readers of Hunter Angler Garde
ner Cook for outside testing. It’s vital that the recipes work for people who are not trained chefs.
Are there any cookbook authors or chefs whom you see as sources of inspiration?
Lots. I don’t know that there is just one or two or three, but I do avidly read chef cookbooks as well as those cookbooks that are really pieces of anthropology, like Nanna Rognvaldardottir’s Icelandic Cookery, Kho Kian Lian’s Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, or Paula Wolfert’s Cooking of Southwest France. If I had to pin one chef as a constant source of inspiration, it would be Magnus Nilsson of Sweden’s Faviken.
How often do you hunt?
From Labor Day until February, several times a week. The rest of the year, I am mostly fishing.
For your round-the-world recipes, have you gotten to travel and hunt the game of other countries? Or, are you using local game in your world cuisine?
I have only hunted in Canada, New Zealand and the United States, so yeah, I am using North American game to cook.
What has been your most interesting hunt of late?
Probably grouse hunting in the Boreal Forest of Alberta. I love hunting and eating grouse, and being in a true bush camp was a great experience.
Why did you go the Kickstarter route with the book?
Well, mainstream publishers, for the most part, don’t know how to market to deer hunters — and you will need to be a deer hunter, family member of one, or a person who is given venison to really appreciate this book. Yes, you can buy venison, but it’s very expensive. This fact stumped every publisher who was initially interested save one, and that publisher turned out to be a poor fit for this book. So I decided to try to do this in-house.
Are you enjoying shepherding the project through all its stages?
Yes. I am something of a control freak, and the ability to fine-tune every aspect of this book has been exciting… and scary at the same time. I am out of my comfort zone, and sometimes that’s a good thing.