From Field to Table to Date-Night
Spice up the spoils of your deer season with Hank Shaw’s cookbook Buck, Buck, Moose.
By Victoria Tillinghast
Some hunters believe canned meat is the pinnacle of a deer’s culinary worth once the backstraps are gone. Maybe, you have been guilted into taking a jar home from an enthusiastic family member only to drown the contents in store-bought spaghetti sauce. For hunters, the pursuit of the game is the prize. However, there is the opportunity to view bringing the hunt from the field to your table as the ultimate reward.
Hank Shaw, former chef and seasoned food writer, has been delivering comprehensive cooking guides for all kinds of wild game and foraging since 2011. According to Shaw’s website, his book, Buck, Buck, Moose is “The most comprehensive, lushly photographed book on cooking all sorts of deer and deer-like things ever produced. I hope it opens up whole new worlds for those who hunt.”
Photographed by Shaw’s partner Holly A. Heyser, a hunter herself, Buck, Buck, Moose is a gorgeous mouth-watering encyclopedia to alternatives for the dreaded canned meat go-to.
Buck, Buck, Moose is written with every level of hunter or omnivore in mind. From seasoned professionals to first-timers, Shaw begins his 2016 cookbook in the field. Buck, Buck, Moose illustrates and walks the reader through every step of the field dressing process. Shaw also describes his appreciation for the nutritional value and sustainability of venison.
“Where venison really excels … is in the realms of humane animal husbandry and sustainability. You simply can’t get more free-range, humanely harvested, or sustainable meat than wild game,” Shaw writes.
Buck, Buck, Moose offers a wide array of recipes for the most favored cuts: braised shoulder, roasted leg and many tasty backstrap options, including fan-favorite Steak Diane. This wild-game twist on a 1970’s French favorite “is absolutely a date-night dish but is also so easy to make that you can whip it up on a Wednesday-night date.”
Shaw’s inspiration on this classic dish harkens back to the dishes’ history.
“Sauce Diane, at least in its proto-form, was first mentioned by Escoffier in his Le Guide Culinaire back in 1907. And it was a sauce not for beef, but for venison,” he writes.
Pan-seared backstrap medallions smothered in a heavy cream sauce with shallots and garlic and a brandy deglaze is sure to impress any date you make this for, even on a Wednesday.
“A big red wine such as cabernet sauvignon, Barolo, Petit Verdot, or Graciano,” is what Shaw recommends as ideal pairings with the dish.
Drink pairing is not unique to this recipe alone, as Buck, Buck, Moose offers seasoned insight with multiple recipes and a comprehensive list. For those who favor beer over wine, Shaw recommends a pale ale as a go-to. Pair a malty beer for heavy dishes such as stews and roasts and a hoppy beer for spicy dishes like venison curry or fried rice.
In Shaw’s eyes, “wine and venison are a natural match.” He suggests that his readers go red and go dry; a Spanish Rioja or a dry Rosé in the summer is sure to complement any meal.
Other than the perfect date-night classic, Buck, Buck, Moose offers options for the ground meat most hunters find themselves burdened with when their fridge is almost empty. From Indian Kofta Meatball Curry to Albóndigas Al Chipotle, Shaw’s expert guidance is sure to help you think outside of spaghetti sauce territory.
And for a book that begins with field dressing instructions, it only makes sense that it includes recipes for what Shaw refers to as “The Wobbly Bits.” For the nose-to-tail type of hunter, you can find lovely in-depth recipes for deer hearts such as Peruvian Antichuchos de Corazón or Venison Tripe Neapolitan Style. For the less adventurous nose-to-tail types, there are nine different sausage recipes to choose from as well.
With more than 100 recipes total, Buck, Buck, Moose is the perfect addition to any big game hunter home-cook enthusiast. Shaw also has written other books such as Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail for small game hunters. His new book, Hook, Line, and Supper is anticipated to be released on April 30 to satisfy anglers’ cooking expectations as well.
Hungry? Purchase Buck, Buck, Moose and other books by Hank Shaw.
Try the Steak Diane recipe before you buy.
Photos by Holly A. Heyser.