Dave’s Venison Steak Simmered in Relish

It was a beautiful day on Chequamegon Bay, but my mother was seasick. I had arranged a half-day fishing charter with Captain Dave Sorenson from Ashland, Wisconsin. Dave Sorenson docked his boat across the bay at the marina in Washburn and had everything ready when we showed up a half hour before our scheduled start.

I had had a little trouble organizing the trip. My father was afraid that he would have difficulty getting in and out of the boat. I explained that Dave had a big boat over 30 feet long with a cabin and comfortable benches in case he got tired, but Dad still balked at the idea. When he said that he didn’t know if he could step into or out of the boat, I saw my opening: “I’ll rent a wheelchair for you. We can just wheel you on board.”

“I don’t need a wheelchair,” he snarled, and agreed to the trip.

My mother’s objection was that she was afraid of getting seasick on a big boat. She loved to fish and had spent many hours in canoes and fishing boats on lakes near Hayward. Persuading her meant changing tactics and emphasizing that Dave’s boat was not like a ship. It was just a bit bigger than the boats she was used to. She didn’t get seasick in a rowboat, so she wouldn’t get seasick on Dave’s boat.

But she did. About two minutes after we cast off the lines and moved away from the dock, she went into the cabin and proceeded to turn green. Once we had gotten past Madeline Island, the fish finder began showing schools of fish. Dave throttled down the boat and explained that we should decide who would catch the first fish. There were six of us. I’m not sure of the exact order, but I know Dad was number one and I took the number six position. Mom said that she didn’t think she should have a number, but I think that we gave her number three.

So down went the outriggers and we began trolling. The weather was beautiful with a nice breeze. The fish were not too cooperative, but Dad hauled in a lake trout after half an hour or so, then Jerri reeled in a nice fish. The sun came out, the wind freshened and the boat rolled a little more. When I told Mom that when I was seasick on my trip to Germany I felt a lot better when I got on deck, she just groaned. At least she didn’t tell me that she had told me she would get seasick.

All of a sudden, there was a fish on rod number three. I opened the door to the cabin and told her there was a fish on her rod. She said, “Have someone else take it,” but I persisted.

“Come on, Mom, I’ll help you. Just crank the reel. If you can’t do it, we’ll take over.”

As luck would have it, a nice coho salmon was on the rod. As she began cranking the reel, the fish jumped out of the water sixty or seventy feet from the boat, and Mom began trembling with the excitement every fisherman or fisherwoman knows. My recollection is that the whole boat began shaking, but she kept right on cranking.

After Dave netted her fish and handed it to her, she held it in front of her in the way that every experienced angler knows will make it look bigger than it is while we took a photo.

Only then did she realize that she was no longer seasick. A salmon on the line works better than dramamine!

Captain Dave took a photo of all of us with our catch when we got back to the marina. There are Dad and Mom complete with lake trout, salmon and smiles. Jerri, my sister Barb and my brother-in-law Patrick are standing next to them with big grins and their trophies. At the end of the line is one person with a brave smile but no fish. Guess who.

Dave published The Outdoor Gourmet Cookbook filled with some tasty recipes for wild game and fish. Besides recipes for everything from crow to muskrat, the book includes useful fishing and hunting tips. If you have a hunter or fisher in your family, you should try to get a copy of Dave’s cookbook.

Jerri adjusted Dave’s recipe slightly to make it one of our two favorite ways of cooking venison steak.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. venison round steak
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 or 3 T bacon drippings
1/4 cup green olives, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 can or a small jar of finely chopped pimiento
1 four ounce can mushrooms, drained
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 sweet pickles, chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup water
1 T sugar

PROCEDURE:

Start with venison round steak about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cut the steak into serving size pieces and coat them with flour.

Clean and chop the celery and onion medium fine. Slice the olives and chop the pickles medium. Drain the mushrooms and stir the salt and sugar into a half cup of water.

Heat the bacon drippings in a skillet over moderately high heat and brown the meat on both sides. Turn the heat to low, stir in the vegetables and water mixture and grind the pepper over everything. Cover the skillet and simmer the meat for about an hour and a half. Turn the meat to mix it with the vegetables occasionally. Add water if necessary.

Serve with rice, a green salad and bread. Jerri uses brown rice or a blend of brown and wild rice.

NOTES: You can substitute lard or shortening for the bacon grease, but the smoky flavor of bacon grease adds to the flavor. Incidentally, venison has virtually no cholesterol, so this dish is both tasty and good for you.

Crockpot Kalua Pork/Elk

If a graduation party or Memorial Day family reunion is on your calendar, here is a recipe that will make your life easier and wow your guests.  It takes about 5  minutes work in the kitchen, but the result is pulled pork that is moist, tender and delicious.  And if some of the gang say they prefer sloppy Joes, hand them a skillet, a can of sauce and a pound of hamburger.

We got this recipe from our daughter-in-law’s sister who lived in Hawaii when her husband was stationed there.  True kalua pork is made by wrapping the meat in banana and ti leaves and roasting it slowly for hours in an underground earthen oven.  The result is tender juicy meat that almost falls apart when it is unwrapped.

Most of us don’t have earthen ovens, but a slow cooker comes close to giving you the same great flavor and tender meat.  We have substituted elk in this recipe a couple of times and the result was very satisfactory, different from pork but still delicious.  Though elk is not as fatty as pork, the moist heat of the crockpot still gives you succulent pulled meat for sandwiches.   As you can see, the recipe is absurdly simple with just four ingredients.

INGREDIENTS:

4 to 5 lbs. pork butt or shoulder or elk roast
2 cups apple cider or apple juice
1 T liquid smoke
1 1/2-2 T Hawaiian or sea salt

PROCEDURE:

At least 12 hours before the guests are scheduled to arrive, rub the pork with the salt and liquid smoke and place it in the crockpot. Add the apple cider. Turn the crockpot on high for the first hour, then turn it down to low and leave it to cook for another 10 to 12 hours.

After about 6 hours, turn the roast over and add a little more cider if necessary.  Take the meat out of the crockpot and shred it with two forks.  Serve with sandwich buns and hot or barbecue sauce for those who like a little more zip to their meat.

NOTES: You can make pulled pork ahead of time, refrigerate or even freeze it, then warm it when you need it. You can use regular iodized salt if that is all you have.  Cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans go well with pulled pork sandwiches.