In the summer months I turn the oven on very infrequently. Most of my cooking happens in the outdoors over an open flame and many of my dishes are served room temperature or even cold. I like to save the warm hearty venison stews for the winter months. Food, after all, should fit with the seasons, in both taste and how it makes you feel.
These are some of my favorite ways to prepare wild game for the warm weather months.
Venison Carpaccio A venison tenderloin is wonderful after it has been aged, chilled and thinly sliced, raw. Axis venison is always my top choice because of its inherent sweetness. Top it with a quickly sautéed medley of your favorite diced vegetables, like mushrooms, onions and peppers, and finish it off with a dash of vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. In a short time you’ll have an elegant dish for summer parties. Serve it with toast points and it makes the perfect appetizer.
Liver Pate This is a wonderfully rich spread that gets better as it chills in the refrigerator. Give your favorite type of liver a quick sear on the grill or stovetop along with some onions or shallots and a bit of red wine. Once soft, puree it all in a blender with cold butter, a dash of cream and balsamic vinegar. Adjust the seasonings to make it your own and serve chilled with a loaf of crusty bread.
Duck Breast Salad I prefer duck breast cold, which makes it a wonderful summer dish. All it needs is a quick sear on a grill or stovetop and then it can, and should, be served rare. Slice it thin and serve it on a platter with orange sections, alternating one after the other. Garnish with a medley of your favorite herbs—mint, tarragon and parsley—for example. Drizzle with a good olive oil and some coarse sea salt and you have a wonderful combination of flavors to savor on a hot afternoon.
Chopped Smoked Turkey or Pheasant Salad A New York-style chopped salad is one of my favorite meals because you can throw in the whole “kitchen sink” of goodies. A turkey or pheasant breast that has been brined and then slowly smoked and diced adds a wonderful flavor. Then add chopped romaine, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and every other salad fixing you love and you have a salad that is a hearty summer meal. You could also create a salad bar of ingredients and let everyone make their own custom version.
Chilled Game Gazpacho This soup is refreshing and doesn’t require any cooking to make the base, only a blender. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, tomato juice and salt and pepper to taste, then add any wild-game leftovers, grilled shrimp or fish as a garnish on the top. The soup is versatile and will taste better as it sits in the refrigerator while the flavors develop. It is also versatile—if you have vegetarian guests, you can swap out the wild game for avocado and tortilla strips.