The Bounty of the Hunt
As more and more people take control of where their food comes from, how it is raised and what they feed themselves and their families, a dialog has opened up amongst consumers about going back to the root of the culinary evolution.
Indiana’s forests and waterways are an abundant source of food for many who choose to gather their own. From fish to waterfowl to game, the bounty of the hunt is shared in both the home and restaurant settings.
Former sous-chef, forager and Indiana native Matt DuCharme shared with me a bit of insight as to why he seeks out locally sourced game and even hunts for his own.
“A big reason is simply proving to myself that I can provide. Sometimes it simply comes down to being thankful for a good hunt and harvest. The same reasons apply as to why I may choose to garden or fish. There are a multitude of reasons why someone may hunt or fish and that is a personal choice.“
“I do not know of specific health benefits,” he continued, “but by eating wild game that I caught myself, I am eliminating my reliance on the outside world for a small portion of my food. I am eliminating the possibility of contaminants that may occur in processing. It just TASTES better to me.
“I have eaten many things that I simply do not like, be it texture or taste. Wild game in general tastes good to me. Deer, elk, rabbit, pheasant, duck, quail—all have a unique flavor profile. We [as a society] have an incredible wealth of food items out there that are different and wonderful, however, too many of us get sucked into the ‘fast and easy’ game of eating or feeding our families.”
Not all of us have the luxury, skill or time to forage for our own meat, and other treasures the land provides. Luckily, we live in an area that boasts unique markets, artisanal butcher shops and restaurants inventive enough to have it on their menu.
Kincaid’s Meat Market in Indianapolis has bison, quail, squab and duck in their case right now and lamb, goat, elk and buffalo can be found at the Meat Shop of Indianapolis, on High School Road. Nationally popular Maple Leaf Farms Pekin duck can be found both online and on many menus in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Recently they have started offering ground duck and duck bacon.
Popular Indianapolis-based Goose the Market carries a varied selection as do the three Moody’s Butcher Shop locations in Central Indiana and Sahara Mart in Bloomington. Alternately, there is a seasonal selection of quail, veal, lamb and goat available at Binford Farmers’ Market.
Claus’ German Sausage and Meats (formerly Klemm’s) on the south side of Indianapolis will process your game for you with required documentation.
Locally farm-raised rabbit from Meat the Rabbit can be found on many Central Indiana menus such as Finch’s Brasserie in Bloomington, Late Harvest Kitchen, R Bistro, Libertine, 10:01, Bluebeard—all in Indianapolis—plus Indigo Duck in Franklin and the Local Eatery and Pub in Westfield.
Educational opportunities are beginning to crop up and become more mainstreamed in Central Indiana. Hoosier Outdoor Heritage, a division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, recently unveiled a new educational series called Hunt, Fish, Eat.
This program was started in the fall of 2012 in Bloomington and has had three additional series: two in Fort Wayne and one in Indianapolis. The program is designed to reach out to individuals who want to eat locally or source their own food and would be interested in learning to hunt or fish to accomplish this task.
The program is designed for adults and consists of a series of educational classes over the course of a few weeks. For example, the DNR recently finished the Hunt, Fish, Eat: Whitetail Deer series in Indianapolis. This course met once a week for four weeks for about three hours an evening. The course covered the basics of deer hunting but also introduced participants to venison dishes.
As seasons change in Indiana, so do both the menus at local restaurants and the offerings of local butcher shops and meat markets. Seek out a new dish in your area and be inspired to make it yourself at home.
Matt DuCharme shared this recipe, which makes use of venison tenderloin and is a great introduction to cooking with this meat for the first time or even for holiday entertaining.
These appetizers go great with many items, and make a wonderful game-day snack. I like to pair the South of the Border medallions with jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon.