After all that raw product I put up last week, here’s some pix of the pre-Christmas meal we cooked up with my Dad. He loves all kinds of wild food, so I packed the raw ingredients in a little cooler for our flight, then we put together a kind of Northwest surf-n-turf dinner. Appetizer above is a chunk of alder-smoked Willapa Bay coho from September.
Perhaps the best part of cooking and eating wild food is the stories and people that come to mind with each ingredient. That coho makes me think of the day Sweeney and I caught it, and how we limited by early afternoon and didn’t know what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day. The razor clams, here fried in a crisp, panko breading, bring back all the fun the kids and I had on the beach with the Sweeneys a few weeks ago.
The elk backstrap pictured here, marinated in olive oil, garlic and rosemary, then pan seared, reminds me of our good friend Kate Taylor (she’s the source) and all that went into her Montana elk hunt.
Finally, put it all together and it’s more than a great meal; it’s a plate full of stories and thoughts of friends, places and times. Delicious.
Tuesday dinners with Smarty are fast becoming one of my favorite traditions, and something I look forward to all week. It started as a combination excuse to hang out and a way of consuming the mass quantities of waterfowl that are unfortunate enough to come within range of Smarty’s 12 gauge. That’s Smarty’s hunting partner, Honey, posing with another pile of mallards that are waiting to be picked, cleaned and cooked in a hot oven for a very short time. These Eastern Washington corn-fed ducks are incredibly big and fat. And delicious. I doubt I will ever tire of eating ’em.
More recently, our menu has expanded. Ducks are still the mainstay, but now we’re supplementing with some other treats. That’s last week’s gorgeous, fat-laden Puget Sound winter blackmouth fillet above, salted, steaked and ready for the grill. It’s not quite Columbia spring Chinook, but nothing comes closer than this. Especially in December.
Finally, we have elk steaks, courtesy of my good friend Kate Taylor, who not only tipped the behemoth over, but delivered the goods to my house. Did I say “good friend?” I meant great. As in awesome. I marinated these slabs in olive oil, garlic and a bit of rosemary overnight. Hit ’em with kosher salt and cracked pepper, then two minutes a side on a raging barbecue and it was pure, melt-in-your-mouth heaven. I’m already looking forward to next Tuesday.