A Hunter’s Heritage – Bad goats, Dutch ovens, and Paleo diets

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So, tonight I had to make Tandoori chicken because I ran out of antelope with which to make my favorite lamb dish….Yes, you heard me correctly. I’ve been on the Paleo diet for more than a year now (and except when I sneak back up to Lassen Ale Works for a beer in my hometown of Susanville, I’ve generally been losing weight – almost 25 lbs since I started!). I chose the Paleo diet because, well, it’s basically the diet of hunter-gatherers. I’ve had experience with this before it was fashionable to call it the “Paleo” diet. During the years I was conducting research in Africa we always came back much healthier than when we arrived. The formula was simple: lots of exercise (you walk a lot hanging out with traditional hunter-gatherers), eating meat and vegetables, no sweets and NO BEER!

Beg Wot, a favorite dish of the Author’s

The pictured dish is an Ethiopian fare called beg wot. It’s traditionally made with lamb, but as I get lamb only very rarely (a friend of mine raises them and I’ll purchase one every now and then) I found that game meat, especially Pronghorn, serves as an excellent substitute. A lot of my 2016 Wyoming antelope (a doe and a buck) ended up being served as this dish. Beg wot is really designed to use those low quality pieces of meat that we often think of as tough or gristly – lamb shoulder meat in particular. One of the first things I learned eating Pronghorn as a kid was how bad “goat” meat could be! It’s still not uncommon to encounter folks who have had bad experiences with Pronghorn (my mother refuses to eat it, although she’s killed her share of antelope over the years). Fortunately, my father learned how to properly take care of antelope meat after the take and my family enjoyed the meat of both animals for several months. However, I’m convinced that even a badly processed Pronghorn will taste good after this recipe.

The Author’s 2016 Wyoming Pronghorn

I won’t lay out the recipe right here, but you’ll need a Dutch oven (or some other pot that can go from the stove to the oven), a spice called Berbere (which is actually easier to find than you would think) and some onions. I’ve cooked this dish with beef and pork, antelope, deer and bighorn sheep. Haven’t had a bad one yet. If you want the full recipe, I’ll be glad to forward it to you.

So, you may be asking, what’s the hunting moral to this story, other than a way to deal with low quality game meat (or store-bought meat for that matter)? Serve it to your non-hunting friends, especially those unfamiliar with our hunting heritage and the taste of game meat. Serve it with a good wine (I prefer a drier white wine (like a Chardonnay, Voignier or Pinot Grigio) with beg wot, but whatever wine you prefer) and you’ll be surprise how interested your friends become in how they can more regularly partake of wild cuisine. It’s a great way to crack the door to discussing the benefits of hunting!

Bon appetite and good hunting!

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