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Holiday Recipes for Hunters

Updated on June 21, 2011

With the holidays creeping up on us again, it's time for the hunter's to explore their hunting roots and provide some meat on the dinner table for their family just like they did for the very first Thanksgiving.

To me, the only thing better than bringing home meat that you hunted yourself, is preparing that meat to share with friends and family. Here are three recipes that will not only taste great, but will also impress everyone with your culinary skills. There's one for turkey, one for duck, and one for deer.

Obviously this is not a one-size-fits-all recipe article, but it's a start. So go out and bag some game and try these recipes out. If you don't like one of them, try a different one for your Christmas meal (though I'm pretty sure you're going to love these great tasting recipes!)

Please feel free to leave comments, especially if you've tried one of these.  Let us know how it was!


Wild Thanksgiving Turkey

The Ingredients:

  • 1 wild turkey
  • 3/4 lb. fatback, salted pork, or bacon
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 ribs celery, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart toasted diced bread
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6 sprigs sage
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mince and render half of the fatback slowly in a heavy-bottomed saute pan.  Reserve and keep warm.
  2. Dry turkey very well with paper towels.  Using a brush, coat exterior with some of the warm minced fatback and season well with coarse salt and pepper inside and out.
  3. Heat up the remaining minced fatback on medium.  Add the onion and season with salt and pepper.  Sweat for 5 minutes, then add celery and sweat for 5 minutes more.  Add garlic and sweat for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add toasted bread.  Moisten with stock and add minced sage, rosemary, and parsley (all stems removed).
  4. Taste bread cubes to ensure they are moist and seasoning is correct.  Add more broth and herbs as needed.  Gently fill the cavity of the turkey with mixture and cover breast with remaining slices of fatback.
  5. Place turkey, breast side up, in a heavy roasting pan and put into preheated oven.  Roast for 1 hour.  Remove fatback, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, and continue roasting for 1 hour to brown breast.  Check doneness by poking the tip of a sharp knife or metal skewer into thickest part of leg and using a spoon to collect juice.  Look for a very light shade of pink.  Clear fluids will likely indicate an overdone bird.
  6. When cooked to desired doneness, let rest at least 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Carve with a sharp knife and across the grain.


Boneless Roast Duck Porchetta

*This recipe will work with mallards, wood ducks, pintails, and green or bluewing teal.  And the quince sauce that accompanies the duck is excellent with any roasted gamebird, venison, or pork.  Also, when you dress the birds, remove the head, neck, backbone, and breastbone; leave the wings and drumsticks intact.


  • 4 deboned mallards
  • 1/4 cup bacon
  • 1 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. dried porcini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
  • 4 thin slices country ham
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quince preserves
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, fry bacon (roughly chopped) for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add onion, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and wild mushrooms to the pan and increase the heat to high.  You'll notice a good amount of liquid forming in the pan, which you'll want to reduce until relatively dry before removing from heat, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat.  Add bread crumbs, porcini, red pepper flakes, thyme, and sage.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir well and allow the mixture to cool.  This will be the stuffing for the duck, so taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. Lay the ducks flat, skin side down, on a cutting board and season the breast and leg meat with a touch of salt and pepper.  Lay a slice of country ham over each bird.  Place a quarter of the stuffing mixture on top of each slice of country ham.
  5. Carefully wrap the breast of each duck around the stuffing, so that the stuffing is completely enveloped.  Tie two strands of butcher's twine around the body so the duck will retain its shape while it cooks.  Gather the tips of the drumsticks and secure them with butcher's twine.  Rub the outside of each trussed duck with a touch of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place ducks, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan and transfer to the oven.  Immediately reduce the oven to 200 degrees and roast the birds for 15 minutes.  (its recommended cooking the ducks until they're warm in the center, which yields a bird that's medium roasted.)
  7. For the sauce, combine all ingredients (mince the shallot, garlic, and ginger) in a saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.  Strain the sauce through a sieve into a serving bowl, discarding the solids.
  8. Remove the twine from each duck.  Serve the duck and sauce together.


Grilled Backstrap with Deer Rub


  • 1 large backstrap, all silverskin removed
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup deer rub (see below)

Deer Rub Ingredients:

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


  1. Let backstrap reach 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.


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