Wild Goose Chorizo with tequila and pork

Chorizo made with wild Canada goose, pork, and tequila. Awesome for Taco Tuesdays!

Chorizo made with wild Canada goose, pork, and tequila. Awesome for Taco Tuesdays!

I know, usually I write about what I’m drinking, but this is one of those domestic badassery moments that my friends Cosmopolitan and Pink Lady always request I share with all y’all. I think its the chronic mess and mayhem factor of my life they find so amusing. Here’s to you, girlfriends!

Early morning decoy setup.

Early morning decoy setup.

The week before Christmas our family went on a waterfowl hunt near Ft. Collins, Colorado with badass hunting guide and hilarious human Tad Stout from Good Times Guide Service. My husband hunts with Tad a few times a year, often with clients for “work” [ahem], and our boys have gone along on a handful of hunts. This was my second time in their blind with the guys, but this year was a first for me and for my 10-year-old son to be active shooters. Although the weather didn’t cooperate for optimal goose hunting—only waterfowl hunters and skiers bitch about the weather being too warm and sunny—we still hauled in several geese, a handful of ducks, and during mid-day downtime the boys nailed some fat rabbits.

Making friends in the duck blind. Good dog, Lad!

Making friends in the duck blind. Good dog, Lad!

Yes, friends, you may have caught that little scheduling fact on the first read-through: the week before Christmas. Who in the hell plans a gear-intensive hunting trip with the kids AND dogs along, especially when the family expects the usual holiday hoopla? Well, apparently my husband does. AND, my in-laws were arriving from out of town the morning after we get back, which also happened to be my birthday. In addition to our house looking like fucking Cabelas had exploded out of the laundry room and all over the garage, I still had to finish cleaning up [our guide Tad did the up-front dismembering grunt work, thankyoubabyJesus] and prepping for the freezer the meat from eight geese, five ducks, and four rabbits, plus Tad very generously sent us home with two additional gallon freezer bags full of goose breast meat. But I still had to get it all done, done, done. Over Christmas. Cleaned up the rabbits [they were a mess, since they boys hunted ‘em with shotguns], into the freezer. BAM. Cleaned up the duck meat, went as-is into the freezer. Ka-POW.

Nice haul, guys!

Nice haul, guys!

Started the sausage-making process for my usual parade of goose charcuterie in hog casings: an Italian-style red wine sausage, Andouille with moonshine to pop in the smoker [a story for another day], and a garlic and sage-forward breakfast sausage. Hot Damn. By the time I’d gotten through all of those, I was so damn tired of cleaning out hog casings and sanitizing the stuffer yet another time—during Christmas— I went for my loose goose raw sausage fallback: chorizo.

I love chorizo. It’s the perfect blend of smoke, heat, and meat with just enough fat to keep things a little naughty. Whether first thing in the morning alongside some soft scrambled eggs and flour tortillas, or in place of ground beef or venison in tacos or chili, it’s all good. I’ve seen it sold in uncooked sausage links, in smoked links, and without casings, but it’s actually a pretty simple example of charcuterie to make at home for most cooks with basic equipment. Chorizo has become my go-to staple for the last few pounds of game meat—antelope, goose, whatever—that I’m not quite sure what to with and am in no mood to get out the sausage stuffer and set up the whole curing set-up: I just grind up the game with some pork fat, a heavy hand with the spice, and a splash of tequila, and it all gets portioned up raw and sealed for the freezer in under an hour. Done and done, friends. A little glug of tequila blanco in the chorizo, a big glug with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt for mama’s glass, and everyone’s happy. And we did end up having a very lovely Christmas, in spite of the Cabelas laundry overload and a kitchen full of butchering equipment.

I love this grinder! No more pushing the KitchenAid to its limits.

I love this grinder! No more pushing the KitchenAid to its limits.

This recipe is adapted loosely from the chorizo recipe in Michael Ruhlman & Bryan Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Like with most of the game sausage I make, I add quite a bit of pork shoulder, butt, and backfat for flavor and texture, since wild game is so lean and tends to get dry and crumbly without the added fat. For a gazillion reasons, please consider buying your pork [and hell, beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, whatevs] from a small local producer with responsible animal husbandry practices. I get my pork from Utah Natural Meat. Check ‘ em out; they’re doing delicious work. Any good white [unaged] tequila will do; I used Utah-owned VIDA tequila for this batch [yum for sausage, and for cocktails!].

Wild Goose Chorizo with tequila and pork

[makes about 5 pounds]

2 ½ lbs. goose meat, cleaned and trimmed

1 ½ lbs. pork shoulder

1 lb. pork backfat

1 ½ oz. kosher salt [3 Tbs.]

2 Tbs. ancho chile powder

1 Tbs. smoked paprika

1 Tbs. chipotle chile powder

1 Tbs. finely minced garlic

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. ground cumin

¼ cup tequila blanco, chilled in freezer

2 ½ Tbs. red wine vinegar, chilled in freezer

Method: cut up all goose meat and pork shoulder into 1” cubes, and pork fat into ½” or smaller dice [this will ensure good even grinding]. Combine meat with all of the remaining ingredients except for tequila and vinegar. Cover and keep chilled until ready to grind [I like to wait at least 24 hrs for flavors to develop].

A little VIDA tequila blanco for the chorizo. A good sized glug goes in Mama's glass, of course!

A little VIDA tequila blanco for the chorizo. A good sized glug goes in Mama’s glass, of course!

Before grinding, set grinder parts and collection bowl in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Grind the entire mixture through the small die of the grinder into a bowl set in ice. Immediately add the chilled tequila and vinegar, and mix thoroughly with the paddle attachment of a stand mixture or put some muscle behind using a sturdy wooden spoon. Keep mixing until the mixture has developed a uniform, sticky appearance [this means all of the fat is well-distributed].

If you want to adjust seasoning, take a pinch of sausage and sauté it in a skillet until cooked through and then taste.

The guys got me one of these fab vacuum sealer dohickies for my birthday. I'm sealing EVERYTHING now. Even if it doesn't need it. Just 'cause it's So. Fun.

The guys got me one of these fab vacuum sealer dohickies for my birthday. I’m sealing EVERYTHING now. Even if it doesn’t need it. Just ’cause it’s So. Fun.

Portion the chorizo into freezer storage bags, remove all air, and freeze or refrigerate immediately.

Disclaimer: Good Times Guide Service, Utah Natural Meat, and VIDA Tequila did not pay me to say these great things about their services and products. I just think they’re wonderful.

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Guinness & Game Pot Pies

Guinness & Game Pot Piesantelopepotpie557K

Yup – it’s still winter here in the Wasatch Mountain foothills.  I don’t know what that Pennsylvania rodent predicted for the Eastern Time Zone, but we’ve still got it goin’ up in here in the Mountain West.

For me and mine that is a million kinds of awesome.  We love the mountains, the snow, and the big spring melt that brings great fishing come summer.   But our winters are BUSY, my friends.  My older son, Tim Collins, has slalom and GS ski races at Snowbird this weekend.  Our young ‘un, Sprite, has the parent-flattening triumvirate of hockey game, birthday party/sleepover, and ski lessons all within 24 hours heading straight at us.

In preparation for this winter onslaught, I’m making my easy do-ahead hearty stew.  It can be assembled any time in the afternoon within a half-hour or so, then set to simmer for an indefinite period of time.  Serve it with salad and biscuits and you’ll be universally lauded.  To make it even more appealing for visiting friends, pop a prepared pie crust sheet on top of the reduced stew in the Dutch oven while you are assembling appetizers and cocktails après ski, and bake it until crispy for a rustic Shepherd’s Pie.  Or, up the ante even more and scoop it into individual oven proof crocks and top with pie crust rounds.  So little time on your part, yet so much praise will come your way.

I used wild antelope scraps from last year’s hunt for this recipe, because that’s what I have on hand and need to clear out of the freezer.  It’s also very good with elk, deer, or your grocer’s “beef for stew.”  It is superlative (really folks, make this for your St. Pat’s dinner) made with lamb trimmings.

Guinness & Game Stew (or, base for Shepherd’s pie and pot pies) – 6 generous servings

½ cup flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 Tbs. bacon fat (or vegetable oil)

1 lb. antelope (or other red meat) cut into ½” cubes

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. flour (reserved from dredge)

1 – 14.9 oz. can Guinness Stout beer

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

8 oz. brown mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

2 cups small yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut in ½” cubes

1 cup green beans, cut in 2” lengths (fresh or frozen)

2 cups strong game or beef stock

1 cup fresh or frozen sweet green peas

For Shepherd’s pie/pot pies

1 prepared pie crust (homemade or pre-packaged)

1 egg, slightly beaten and mixed with 1 Tbs. water

1)      In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper.  Dredge meat in the flour mixture.

2)      Meanwhile, melt bacon fat in a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When hot, shake excess flour off of ½ pound of the meat and add to the hot pan, making sure there is room between pieces.  Turn meat a few times to ensure all sides are completely browned.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, then repeat with the remaining ½ lb. of meat, adding more bacon fat if needed.

3)      After all meat is browned and removed from the Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium-low.  Add 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil and sprinkle 2 Tbs. of remaining flour-salt-pepper dredge over the hot oil.  Use a wire whisk to combine the roux.  Keep over low heat for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent burning, until mixture smells nutty and is a pecan-ish brown color.

4)      Turn off the heat on the pan.  In a slow steady stream (keep back and watch your eyebrows!  – this gets steamy!) pour in the beer while steadily whisking the roux.

5)      When the roux-beer mixture is combined and smooth, return heat to medium.  Add all remaining ingredients – browned meat, veggies, stock—to the Dutch oven EXCEPT the peas (they’ll get mushy if you add them too soon), and the pie crust, etc (you’ll need that for the pie, silly!)

6)      Bring to a low boil, then immediately reduce to low heat, simmer, and cover.   Simmer for at least 1 hour, covered, for stew.  A couple of hours will have your meat meltingly tender; add peas 5 minutes before serving to cook through.

If this is your stew, enjoy!  If you are soldiering on for the big fancy finish, here goes!

Makes 4-6 generous servings

7)      You now have a fabulous velvety stew (or leftovers of it, which you are now going to convert to fabulous pot pies).  If you want to make Shepherd’s pie or individual pot pies, finish with the following steps:

8)      Uncover stew and cook over medium-low heat for ½ hr. to reduce and thicken sauce, stir often to keep from sticking.

9)      Preheat oven to 375*

10)   For pie crust, you can either use your own crust, or use a pre-prepared roll out crust.  In either case, mix one beaten egg with 1 TBS. water to brush on top of the crust(s) for crisp and shine

11)   Either put then entire pie crust on top of your stew in the Dutch oven, brush on egg glaze, prick a few times with a fork to vent, and bake the entire pot in the oven on the middle rack for 30-40 minutes or until browned

OR

12)   Cut out four 5 ½” pastry rounds with a small bowl or cutter.  Tear remaining scraps into long pastry strips.  Ladle stew into four oven-proof soup crocks.  Top with pastry rounds; roll excess scraps into long strands and use to make extra ‘crusty edges’ around the top edge of the crocks.  Cut a small “X” in the middle of the crust to vent.

13)   Brush with egg/water mixture

14)   Place crocks on a rimmed baking sheet (you will have spillage!)

15)   Bake at 375* for 45 minutes, or until crust are browned.

YUM.  All of the above preparations are fantastic with a hearty Cabernet.