Some Of My Favorite Eating Experiences, Foods, Dishes, Recipes, Some Unusual Dishes, Including Wild Game Too.
I think many will find these foods and dishes great like I did and continue to enjoy.
We all accumulate favorite foods, dishes, dinners, recipes and eating experiences over our lifetimes. Here I will give mine and include recipes if known, as well as my commentary on each.
Fine cooking, gourmet and unusual great meals are the treasured experiences of a lifetime!!
Some of these experiences are from my family, my own personal cooking prowess and of course others are from fine restaurant dining. I will update here as I continue to follow my passion for terrific eating and dining experiences, recipes where remembered or rediscovered, and the particular dining environments as recalled from those very fond memories.
For sure, like everyone, I have had some really disaster dining experiences whether of my own cooking ineptness or that of the restaurant chefs. Mostly my cooking disasters were of my own attempts at experimentation in the kitchen. For now though, I will focus only upon the outstanding dining experiences.
Where do we begin? These are in no particular timeline order but being recalled at random. They should all stand any test of time. Many are traditional and/or classical examples of fine cookery including the cooking methodology and date all the way back to my childhood years.
Let's start off with wild game or somewhat unusual dishes.
I will kick this segment off by saying that I used to be an ardent albeit mostly unsuccessful hunter. Living most of my life in New Jersey was not conducive to reaping a huge harvest of wild game bounty. Most of my hunts turned into glorious and healthy nature hikes lasting from sunup to sundown with many a barren hunting day devoid of game. Since those days however, NJ has gotten much better as game species recovered from historic lows. Many of the game dishes experienced here are from some great restaurants.
Let's get started!
Quail - This little bird is really one of my favorites. You need at least three to make a satisfying meal. It has a flavoring and texture or Cornish Game Hens and similarly delicate and should be cooked and seasoned in the same way. I was fairly successful hunting these stocked birds. They are really very tasty.
Pheasant - This large bird is all dark meat and can be a bit on the tough side if not properly prepared. The meat can be rather dry if not prepared properly and I liked preparing this with strips of bacon held in by toothpicks over the bird to add additional flavors and moisture during the roasting process.
Venison - Deer meat is always popular and there is very little fat compared to beef. The roasts are done the same way as beef using your favorite recipes. The meat is rich tasting and should not be gamey if properly field dressed, stored and cooked. Marinating is a very popular way to prepare venison of you suspect it will be gamey. A great venison dinner I attended prepared their venison by doing several marinades in cold buttermilk overnight. The meat came out as tender and flavorful as any best cut of beef.
Squirrel - Not my favorite. Only had it once after a hunt and was pan fried in butter by my brother . Probably marinating and grilling quickly would be a lot better preparation method. To me it was a bit gamey but am willing to try again sometime when available.
Grouse (Partridge) - This is another favorite of mine. The meat is all white and almost translucent and very delicate. I have made it myself just like Rock Cornish Game Hens and it is very tasty. I have had it in a very fine gourmet restaurant specializing in wild game and it was extraordinary. When and where I hunted in NJ they are called grouse. In that Milwaukee restaurant it was on the menu as Partridge.
Wild Boar - Always wanted to hunt these critters. Well, maybe someday. Anyway, I had this in a fine restarant and it was great. After all it is really a wild male Pig and treated in preparation and cooking just like pork. Very, very tasty.
Duck - Never hunted them nor ever had the wild duck. I have had domesticated duck in restaurants many times and always found it tasty. you can keep the L'Orange recipe though, thank you. don't necessarily care much for that famous duck recipe. Much rather have it with cranberries or other berries instead of the orange thing. Duck is fatty so it should be tasty if the skin is roasted to a crispy doneness.
Goose - Much like duck bit a much larger and very fatty bird. Never did wild goose but doing goose for the Christmas Holidays is a great tasty diversion away from turkey. Be sure to collect the HUGE amounts of fat coming off the bird to use as gravy called "grease" by many folks. It truly is a festive, tasty and satisfying different bird for the holiday season.
Alligator (Battered and Deep Fried) - Had this critter only once so far in my trip to the Florida Keys near The Everglades at a roadside establishment. It was battered and deep fried and tasted just like pork to me however it was like chewing on strips of a rubber inner tube. Probably much better ways of preparing this to tenderize. It was still good and will do it again when I get the chance.
Eel (Smoked) - Had this only once at a Scandinavian Restaurant in NYC. It was in a huge buffet of mostly seafood and was delicious. They served lots of ice cold Aquavit along with this buffet and it was an awesome and tasty buffet of Scandinavian foods.
Wild Turkey (Deep Fried) - Had this just once at a Legion picnic and was fantastic! The deep hot oil way of cooking is rather cumbersome and sloppy but the end product was great. Got to be careful about this method of cooking and must be done only outdoors due to the danger of a blazing fat fire if something goes wrong in the process.
Frog Legs - Had this for my first and only time so far just a about three years ago at a Five Star restaurant . It was in a cream garlic sauce and very good. This dish is also very pricey too so I probably won't do it any time again soon.
Snails - Had this a couple times at the same Five Star Fancy Schmancy Restaurant and it is great and is prepared in a brown garlic sauce and served in the snail shells. Pricey too as you can image. I also had this made a bit differently by the family of a Italian friend it was great too.
Rabbit (Hasenpfeffer) - We made this at home once when I was a kid and it is a traditional German rabbit stew and very tasty. Would like to try it again if I have the chance.
Flying Fish - On a vacation in Barbados, flying fish is a popular item on the menu as it abounds in those warm waters. It is however a somewhat bland tasting delicate white fish that really needs to be zipped up by lemon or lime juice and spices. I can pass doing this fish again unless it is jazzed up with condiments.
Salmon (Smoked) - A favorite fish of mine. don't care much if not smoked although broiled, grilled and blackened is pretty good. For me, any fish should be smoked to be most appealing and tasty to appeal to my palate.
Trout (Smoked) - Like salmon, I like my fish smoked and smoked rainbow trout is awesome! Served with a creamy horseradish sauce on the side makes this a great appetizer and if you had a lot of trout, it makes a great entrée of the meal.
Now for more traditional as well as non traditional entrees and side dishes.
Many people do not care for lamb as it does have a different taste which is stronger than beef or pork and some people even call it gamey. Lamb, depending on age will usually develop a stronger taste as the lamb gets older. Generally lamb is only considered as lamb until about one year of age. After that it has become an adult sheep and the meat is then more correctly called mutton and has yet an even stronger taste.
If you have priced lamb recently, you have found that it is extraordinarily expensive thus also not making it a popular dinner item due to affordability instead of just taste preferences. It also is sometimes not available throughout the year as the most popular is Spring Time. Lamb is many time categorized as Spring Lamb for this reason.
When I was growing up, we always had leg of lamb every other month or so, maybe even once a month and back then we would always get our meats from the now almost extinct local butcher. When inspecting a leg of lamb, generally the larger that leg is means the older the lamb is with a correspondingly, but not always stronger taste. Obviously when feeding a family you want to get the largest leg of lamb possible to feed everyone and yet still be able to have leftover lamb. In case you haven't tried leftover lamb, it makes for the greatest sandwiches on white bread with a real egg mayonnaise salt and pepper.
However, I will only attest to this if the lamb is prepared my way in the recipe that follows below. That is the way my family made it and I grew up on with it made only this way. I have made people converts to lamb that swore that they hated lamb until they tasted my family roasted leg of lamb recipe.
LAMB - Leg of Lamb - Bone In - 5 - 7 pounds
Rinse lamb in cold water and pat dry
Stab the entire leg all over with deep puncture cuts from a sharp tipped knife
Peel and slice FRESH GARLIC into slivers - Be generous and use a LOT of garlic slivers
Insert a sliver of garlic deep into each puncture
Apply salt and black pepper liberally and rub in over the lamb fat side - You may also add a liberal sprinkling of BELL'S POULTRY SEASONING too.
Generously slather GULDENS BROWN MUSTARD liberally over the entire surface of the lamb - Only Guldens Brown Mustard can be used. Other mustards will not provide this same intended and distinct taste.
Place on a roasting rack in a roaster and roast at 325F at 20-25 minutes per pound until meat thermometer shows internal temperature of 145F degrees for Medium Rare
25-30 minutes per pound to internal temp of 160F for Medium
30-35 minutes per pound to internal temp of 170F for Well Done.
Set aside lamb and let set for ten minutes and carve and let your taste buds throw a party for your mouth.
See if I am right about the rave reviews you will get over this leg of lamb recipe. I would really like to see your comments.
Let's take a look at some more unusual dining fare.
As a kid, my family used a lot of chopped meat for meatloaf, and hamburgers. I consider meatloaf a universal family dinner as there are literally thousands of ways to make this popular meat dish. Mine never comes out the same way twice and yet they are turn out great.
Whenever we had the raw chopped meat, I always volunteered to make the meatloaf mix just so I could sneak gobs of the meat mixture and eat it raw. Due to this my family always ordered an extra half pound of chopped meat to accommodate me and my little habit.
Our basic meatloaf recipe was a couple pounds of chopped chuck or topped best ground round if we could afford it, some milk, some stale white bread (soaked in milk and used as a filler/extender), two or three raw eggs, salt and pepper to taste, lots of chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce or ketchup, and mix it all together. This is the mix I would swipe.
When I grew into adulthood, I discovered that this was a natural affinity to enjoy steak tartare in restaurants. This is a hard dish to find on a menu due to health concerns about consuming raw beef and egg but the classic recipe follows.
Steak Tartare - The simple classic way.
Chopped/minced raw ground round or sirloin to minimize and eliminate any fat.
Chopped mild onion
One Raw egg yolk
Fresh ground black pepper - salt to taste
Worcestershire Sauce - to taste (optional)
Generally served as a mound of the raw chopped beef seasoned or unseasoned with the salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce,.The mound of chopped beef is indented on top and filled with a layer of chopped onion, on top of which is placed a raw egg yolk then surrounded by a ring of capers.
Surround with your favorite salad greens and serve very cold.
P.S. Let me know if you like it, that is, if you can find it on a restaurant menu or you dare to make and serve it to your family or even just to treat yourself.
Brussels Sprouts. Ever get a kid to eat these things? I did even as a kid and still do to this day.They are a great vegetable.
As a kid my family boiled the sprouts in salted water until tender, and we served them either with melted butter, salt, and pepper or even better yet we blackened regular salted butter in a small cast iron skillet and poured the hot blackened and sizzling butter over the sprouts. Delicious. I have never seen anyone else do this nor any restaurant too for that matter. Simple and delicious!!
Cauliflower. We prepared cauliflower the exact same was a the Brussels sprouts with the same either melted butter or blackened sizzling butter drizzled straight from the iron skillet over the cauliflower. Great taste!
Broccoli. Basically did the same as for the sprouts and the cauliflower. That blackened sizzling butter gives the veggie a whole new great taste to get it away from the usual bland taste.
Turnips. This is a another usual turn off veggie to a lot of people. To take the strong edge off the taste it is mixed half and half with mashed potatoes. I like those golden turnips straight and mashed with plenty f salt, pepper and butter to taste.
Green Beans and Wax Beans. Of the two, my favorite is the wax beans. I like both boiled with onion and served with salt and pepper and butter to taste. with green beans I especially like to cook them with chopped smoked bacon pieces in addition to the onion. Really zips up the taste very easily.
Spinach. Another veggie kids avoid. I especially like spinach creamed with salt and pepper and pieces of smoked bacon or ham added too in order to snap up the taste.
Kohlrabi. This is another underestimated and little appreciated and used vegetable. We grew it a lot and served it boiled and sliced hot with salt, pepper and butter also sometimes mashed and mixed with yellow turnips or rutabagas. The green leaves are very tender and tasty too.