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Podcast Ep. 008: BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Podcast Ep. 008: BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Wilderness Areas and the BWCAW

The Modern Carnivore PodcastIn this eighth episode of the Modern Carnivore Podcast I take a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness ( BWCAW ) with a great group of guys to go hunting and fishing. That group included Miles Nolte from Gray’s Sporting Journal (but he’s now a member of the crew at Meat Eater), Lukas Leaf from Sportsmen For The Boundary Waters, Rob Drieslein who is the President of Outdoor News and Jack Hennessy who is an outdoor writer and wild game cook. I also focus on Wilderness (with a capitol “W”) and specifically the threats to public lands and waters like the BWCAW.

The Modern Carnivore Podcast is talking BWCAW grouse hunting and fishing #grouse #fishing
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Why Listen to The Modern Carnivore Podcast?

With all the podcasts out there why would you want to listen to this one? Well, if you’re looking for a new adventure in the outdoors we’ve got some very interesting guests talking about topics related to honest food and wild adventures. Get ready to be entertained and enlightened on topics related to hunting, fishing, foraging…and more.

Here are a couple other podcasts you may be interested in:

Episode 7: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Episode 6: Tom Landwehr, former Commissioner of MN Department of Natural Resources talking deer camp.

Have a question you’d like answered, or have an idea for the Podcast? Shoot us a note at

Subscribe to the Modern Carnivore Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Podbean.

Please support the podcast by giving us honest feedback on iTunes or wherever you listen to the podcast. And if you do like it, don’t forget to tell your friends about it!

The Modern Carnivore Podcast is talking BWCAW grouse hunting and fishing #grouse #fishing
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Transcript Of Podcast

Podcast: Wilderness Areas and BWCAW

Intro:   00:08               

Welcome to the Modern Carnivore Podcast. A guide for those interested in hearing more about fishing and other paths to eating more responsibly. Now here’s your host, Mark Norquist.

Mark:   00:23     

Hey everyone. Welcome to episode number eight of Modern Carnivore Podcast.

Mark:   00:30      

Today we’re going to talk about Wilderness areas. And more specifically, we’re going to take you to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which is the most threatened Wilderness in the U.S. So before we get into that, let’s do a little background on what we mean by wilderness with a capital w. The Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1964 and it created the National Wilderness Preservation System and it also put a legal definition around the term Wilderness. One of the primary authors of this act, Howard Zahniser, uh, defined it this way, “A Wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.

BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Mark:   01:43            

It’s really protective overlay that’s applied to certain areas in our country; certain areas of public lands. They could be national forest parks, wildlife refuges, any number of different places. Um, one of the criticisms that has been made in the past about it is the reference to quote man himself as is a visitor who does not remain. But I think that’s the critical element of it and why it is really unique. So if you think about it, there are very few places where there are no buildings, no roads, no machines, and the only really semi-permanent structures I can think of would be these throne toilets. Basically a seat to sit on and do your business and the fire grades to control where you, where you do fires. And that’s specific to the Boundary Waters where we’re at today. And I think that’s a pretty special thing in something that is, that is needed in this world.

Mark:   02:52      

There are 765 of these Wilderness Areas in the U.S. they comprise just over 109 million acres total, which is under 5% of the u s landmass. And the Boundary Waters, Canoe Area Wilderness is just over 1 million acres itself. So, the question is why are these areas important? Well, if you hunt or fish, I would say there’s no better place to do those activities. It’s still and quiet and in essence allows you to travel in time to a, to a place in a, in a time where we didn’t have a lot of these modern mechanizations. And uh, again, that’s, that’s a pretty special thing. And when you talk about doing hunting and fishing and forging activities in a place like that, that’s pretty special. You know, I was, um, the fall before last I was antelope hunting out in Wyoming had a wonderful time, great people, great place. But there were a lot of roads, a lot of fence lines marking up in really chopping up this crazy, this patchwork of public and private lands and oil derricks all over and um, had a great time, really beautiful place in its own right. But if I was given my choice on where I’m going to hunt and fish, I’ll take a wilderness area where those, those, um, aspects of man and development are, are not seen readily while you’re doing the activities. The Boundary Waters is, is, is one of those places. There’s over a thousand lakes in this, in this wilderness area, and 1500 miles of canoe routes. The water in this area is so clean that many people will actually just dip their water bottle over the side of the canoe to take a drink. I would personally recommend using the filter for potential of giardia any other potential risks to, uh, to your digestive system.

Mark:   05:02     

But that just gives you an example of how clean this water is in this wilderness area. So if you want to lose yourself and really catch some great fish and maybe shoot a grouse, this is the place took to do it. So why is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness threatened? As I mentioned at the open here? Well, currently there is a Chilean mining conglomerate that’s trying to cite a copper mine within the watershed of the Boundary Waters, Canoe Area Wilderness. And you may say, so what’s the problem with that? We’ve got mines and in areas a wilder is all over the country. Well if you look at the facts, it becomes a little concerning. Research shows that 100% of this type of copper mine experiences pipeline spills and accidental releases. So what are they spilling or releasing? Oftentimes it’s one of the main byproducts of copper mining and that is sulfuric acid.

BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Mark:   06:08           

So if a mine were placed within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and when not, if it had a spill, that acidic slurry of byproducts would go right into these waters, these pristine waters. So what’s happening today? Right now? Well, just a couple of weeks ago, um, letter came across my desk that I saw, which was from the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, the chair of the House, Interior Environment Appropriations Committee, and the chair of the subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. It’s a lot of a lot of terms there, but they sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior and in it they, they basically called out a lot of activities that they’re, that they believe are rather dubious. The current administration in its pushed to greenlight, this Chilean companies, mine in the boundary waters has ignored so much data and fact around the risks that this mind would pose to this area.

Speaker 2:   07:22      

Some of those are, there’s a $900 million recreation industry in that region of the state, which, which obviously is driven in large part by the pristine beauty of this wilderness area. It is the most visited Wilderness in all of America. And polls show that more than 70% of people in Minnesota Support Protection of the this wilderness from mining inside of its watershed.

Mark:   07:51        

So some of the things that they have, they have done not only ignoring those facts is the Administration has recently cancelled the environmental review that was underway to determine the risks that mining would pose to the wilderness and the waterways. And now they’ve decided to renew the leases that are held by this, this Chilean company and its predecessors for the last 50 years. But they never exercise the use of it and it had expired, but now they decided to renew them.

Mark:   08:24               

So the bottom line is if you like to hunt and fish, or if you’re aspiring to hunt and fish and forage a wilderness area, like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is about as good as it gets anywhere in the world.

BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Mark:   08:37       

And if that’s important to you, I’d recommend letting your elected officials know what you think about these moves to put our wild heritage at risk for the benefit of a foreign conglomerate who will really take then move on, leaving us to clean up the mess.

Mark:   08:54               

So let’s get to today’s episode. On a happier note, we were traveling in the boundary waters, Canoe area wilderness, this beautiful place today. And we’re going to take you there. And it’s a throwback. This recording is actually a throwback to a trip I took in the fall with a great group of guys. We went, uh, went up to go grouse hunting and to uh, to do some fishing. I was joined by Miles Nolte who at the time was the editor of Gray Sporting Journal. He is now with meat eater, LuKas Leaf, who’s the executive director with sportsmen for the boundary waters. Rob Drieslein who is the President of Outdoor News and John Hennessy, or a Wild Game Jack as he is known who is an outdoor writer and wild game cook.

Mark:   09:42  

Again, we hiked through these really amazing areas and paddled across some, uh, some wonderful waters. The weather was great, a beautiful fall evenings and you’re going to notice there’s water flowing. You can hear it a lot. Uh, and that is because there were some heavy rains right before we got up there and we had rivers flowing everywhere, including right through the middle of our camp, right where we were sitting when we recorded this. So a lot of, a lot of wind and water. But I hope you enjoy the conversation and taking it to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness today.

Mark:   10:47               

Okay. We are here in the Boundary Waters of a northern Minnesota and the boundary waters canoe area wilderness and got a group of guys here. Why don’t we go around. Miles went, you, uh, introduce yourself.

BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Miles Nolte:   11:00     

I am Miles Nolte. I’m the angling editor for Gray’s Sporting Journal and a fly fishing guide based out of Bozeman, Montana.

Lukas Leaf:   11:11               

Lukas Leaf here, sporting outreach director for sportsmen for the boundary waters

Jack Hennessy:   11:18               

Jack Hennessy, freelance outdoors journalists and wild game cook.

Rob Drieslein:   11:23    

Rob Drieslein managing editor, president of the Outdoor News publications out of the twin cities enjoying a trip in the Boundary Waters.

Mark:   11:30     

Excellent. So we’ve been up here now I’m second am second day, second day in the boundary waters. And we came up, um, to do a little fishing, a little hunting. And uh, that was the goal. And I want to, I guess start by by talking about the context of why we’re here, which is these are public lands and public lands are a critically important part of hunting.

BWCAW Hunting and Fishing

Remainder pending…

Podcast: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Outro: 29:36

Thanks for listening to the Modern Carnivore podcast on Wilderness and the BWCAW. You can continue the journey by going to

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Venison Heart Tartare

Venison Heart Tartare

Venison Heart Tartare




Now that I got that out of the way I will say this. If you hunt your own meat, and butcher your own game, and you are certain your meat has not been contaminated, this recipe will blow your mind.

The Heart Meat

The heart is one of my favorite cuts of meat. One of the best ways I have ever eaten heart is in tartare. Heart tartare is a preparation of the meat without cooking it in anyway. Because the heart is so lean, the meat can be tough to cook. By serving it raw you get the full flavor of the animal that you hunted.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when making tartare. Cold is king, the meat should be very cold, if not frozen, when preparing it. You can make tartare with fresh killed animals but just to be safe I always freeze my venison before making tartare. I will vacuum seal a heart and leave it in the freezer until I am ready to use it. The heart I used in this recipe was from last October.

The Preparation

To mince the heart you have several options. You can thaw the heart and run it through a meat grinder with a coarse blade. Another option would be to pulse it a few times in a food processor. Whichever way you do it, you don’t want to turn it into a paste. You will want some texture.

For that reason I like to cut mine by hand. This can be accomplished by cutting the meat while it is still frozen. Take the heart fully frozen out of the freezer and place it in the fridge overnight. It will thaw very slowly and still feel frozen, but you can cut it very easily with a good sharp knife.


I like to trim the heart first and cut away any fat or connective tissues that are present. When you cut a heart in half you will see small strands inside the heart known as purkinje fibers. They help the heart contract. They need to be removed because they are tough and unpleasant to chew on. Once you have trimmed the heart, make ¼ inch slices. Then cut the slices down to ¼ inch cubes of meat. I have found that this gives the meat just the right texture.

At this point you just mix it with the seasonings you have chosen and serve it up very cold. Traditionally it is  served with onions, capers, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  The great thing is once you have tried it you can make it your own and season it with whatever you like. This is my favorite version, but experiment to find what you enjoy best and give it a try.


Venison Heart Tartare

1 Deer heart, trimmed of all fat and connective tissue

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 quail egg yolks

1 tablespoon of capers

1 tablespoon of pickled ramps, minced

1/2 tsp ramp salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

Stir the ingredients together, plate and enjoy.


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Venison Katsu Curry Recipe

Venison Katsu Curry Recipe


This Katsu Curry Recipe is so easy to make, and it tastes amazing to anyone who loves the flavors of a curry.

From Tuna Casserole To Curry

During the mid-nineties I was in the Navy and ended up being sent to work at a base clinic in Sasebo Japan. It’s a core city in the Nagasaki prefecture. At the time I had little idea of what defined good food and was really only focused on one thing: having a good time. I wanted to get through my time in Japan so I could go home and get on with my life. To this day, that attitude stands as my biggest regret.

I made a lot of great friends while I was there, and I did explore a little bit of the culture and food, but not nearly enough. At the time, my greatest accomplishment in a kitchen was figuring out how my mom made tuna casserole. I know that I missed a great opportunity to really dive into the culture and food of a pretty amazing place.

Beer, The Ultimate Appetizer

One of the things I did do while I was there, was drink a fairly decent amount of Japanese beer. So much so that when I got home from Japan in 1998 I steered clear of them. I had not really had a Sapporo or Asahi since then, until recently.

Most evenings back then included a few beers, and after that food always sounded like a good idea. One of my favorite things to get was the Katsu curry at a place called Hokka Hokka Tei. Hokka Hokka was kind of a fast food joint serving up some common Japanese foods. It was kind of like a Chipotle, only for Japanese food. It was really high quality and tasted great, but you had to order and then go.

From Fishing To Food

The Katsu curry I used to get was this brilliantly fried pork cutlet that had a great crunch. Underneath the cutlet was a pile of slightly sweet and sticky rice smothered in a Japanese curry. After a few beers and a night of singing karaoke that Katsu curry was one of the best things I remember eating during my tour. Unfortunately, when I came home from the Navy I had no Idea how to make it and had almost forgotten all about it.

Then a couple of weeks ago my buddy Rick called and said we should get together. Our initial plan of ice fishing fell through, so instead we decided to meet for lunch. We chose a place called Masu, which serves up Japanese foods and sushi.

Rick ordered a Sapporo and since I hadn’t drank one in nearly 20 years I decided to join him. It came with a shot of the restaurant’s house-made ginger whiskey and instantly I had a craving for some Katsu curry. It just so happened that this place was serving Katsu curry as their lunch special. Three hours later and a few beers into the day I was on a mission to make some Katsu curry at home.

A New Kind Of Katsu Curry


It didn’t take long for me to come across multiple recipes online that pointed towards something called S&B golden curry sauce mix. It is basically an instant curry sauce, but it’s flavor is wonderful and it tastes exactly how I remember the Katsu Curry In Japan.

I have made Katsu in the past which is just a cutlet of meat that has been pounded flat and breaded in panko bread crumbs and then fried until golden brown and topped with Tonkatsu sauce.  Tonkatsu is a sweet and savory sauce that adds balance to the dish. There are recipes for making your own online, but you can find Tonkatsu at most Asian grocers.

So, pull some venison chops out of your freezer and take a food journey to Japan. Let me know how it goes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Venison Katsu Curry

For the Cutlet

4 venison chops (pounded to about ½ inch thick)

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs beaten

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 cup oil for frying


Place the venison chops between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound them flat to about ½ inch thick. Coat each cutlet in flour then dredge in egg wash and finally coat with panko bread crumbs. Fry in 325 degree oil for about 2 minutes on each side.


For the gravy

1 sweet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 carrots, diced

½ cup diced onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 brick of Golden Curry

3 cups of water

2 tablespoons of butter


In a medium sized sauce pan heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the carrots and sweet potatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the brick of curry and stir until it dissolves.

To finish the dish pile up some rice in a bowl and cover with the curry. Cut the venison cutlet into strips and place on top of the curry. Top with tankatsu sauce and serve.

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A Different Kind Of Trophy Shot

A Different Kind Of Trophy Shot

A Different Kind of “Trophy Shot”

A couple years ago, I went hunting for the first time and as I walked through a beautiful prairie, I panicked at a sudden thought: What if I actually hit a bird?

Obviously, shooting birds is a big part of pheasant hunting, but despite seeing photo after photo of hunters holding birds, rabbits, and the heavy heads of deer, I failed to give deeper thought to actively holding dead game in my hands. Going into my first hunt, I was so focused on learning about guns, where to hunt and who to hunt with, that I had skipped over the anticipation of a successful hunt.

Connecting To My Food

Like many people, I’ve been contemplating my relationship with food. I feel that ultimately, pursuing free-range game on public lands will help fulfill my need to feel good about the meat I’m eating. I want to advance my outdoor skills, to regularly walk off-trail through gorgeous tracts of woods or grasslands in the fall, and of course, pursue wild game that I can consume.  

Luckily, I didn’t get a bird during that first hunt. You would think that would be a disappointing result, but honestly, I was relieved. It gave me a chance to think about what to do when I finally got a bird.

Picturing Success


Ashley Peters holding her first harvest.

As you can see (above), I wasn’t exactly overjoyed when I finally did shoot a pheasant. Once I held it, I was a little shocked at its beauty and, although I should have expected it, the warmth of a recently deceased bird also caught me off guard.

I went to bed that night wondering if I had made the right decision to become a hunter. Hunting is a lot of work and my reward was a slight feeling of guilt at having brought down such a gorgeous, winged creature.

That was before I cooked the meat though. I had been given fancy recipes for how to cook the pheasant, but I went with a tried and true favorite: cilantro-lime tacos. To me, the pheasant tasted like a cross between chicken and turkey, but the good feeling that came with it was totally new. While making the tacos, I had flashbacks of the beautiful day we had. I knew exactly where the bird had come from, I knew what it had been eating, and I knew that my license fees were going to create habitat. Seeing the food on my plate resonated with me and I found myself inspired to get back into the field and do it all again.


Ashley Peters learns about cooking wild pheasant with Chef Lukas.

With a full belly, I finally felt what I had been seeking: satisfaction.

Most non-hunters who want to start hunting aren’t usually just looking to kill something – they want a better way to feed themselves or their families. Looking back on my perceptions of hunting as a non-hunter, I have a few suggestions for choosing photos targeted towards attracting new folks.

The Trophy Shot Reimagined

  1. Focus on showing the processed meat or a prepared meal. It’s much more relatable to the average person, who may not currently be a hunter, but could be someday. (refer to the example above)
  2. If you do show the animal, try showing just part of it. For example, the antlers, hooves, or fins. People are less sensitive to these images. Here’s an example by my friend Aaron.
  3. Get photos of people smiling as they talk, walk or load up gear. Hunting is very much about camaraderie and this is a good way to visualize it.Pierce and Alex in Part Three of Awaken The Hunter Within by Modern Carnivore
  4. Include as much scenery as possible and explain what the landscape means; many people may not know how to read a landscape for clues about where wildlife live and why they live there.
  5. Think about getting shots that the average non-hunter can picture themselves in or with people that look like them. This is part of the reason it’s so important to use photos of your target audience. Below is a picture of how some friends and I camped out for a pheasant hunt. Most people can relate to camping and it’s just one more step to head over to the field with a shotgun to chase roosters.trophy-shot-modern-carnivoreEditor’s Note: This is the first in a series by Ashley Peters where she shares her experiences of starting to hunt as an adult woman. She looks at the amazing opportunities, the challenges and also the things that need to evolve and change if we’re to bring new people into these hunting and fishing adventures.


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Pappardelle with Braised Pheasant Ragu

Pappardelle with Braised Pheasant Ragu

Braised Pheasant Ragu

I’ve always loved bird hunting, especially ruffed grouse. For some reason going after pheasants hadn’t interested me until a few years ago. I used pheasant when I was cooking professionally all the time even though the colorful bird wasn’t part of my hunting repertoire. It was a great way to introduce folks to the notion of wild game and what it could become. The difference though was these pheasants were the size of chickens and raised on feed at a bird farm, far from what the real “wild” thing looked and tasted like. I changed the minds of a lot of non-hunters and watched their opinions on hunting and wild game transform with each bite from pheasant to venison. I soon found that the real thing was so much better. This braised pheasant ragu is one of those dishes that can change people’s minds.

One Pot Meals


Italian food is a great vessel for wild game and the translation of unique flavors that wild game and foraged ingredients bring to a dish. Pasta is one those vessels and at the top of my list for one pot meals. The options are endless, the flavor profiles move with the seasons and one single recipe can morph into whatever you like. That is the beauty of ragu. It is a savory tomato based dish that can be made with any meat that you can think of, if you’re willing to try it.

The Whole Bird

I love this braised pheasant ragu because most of the ingredients are pantry staples or easy to come by and it uses the entire pheasant. One of the most disappointing things that I see a hunter do after a long day in the field is breast out the bird, tossing perfectly good meat, bones and feathers away. What a travesty. There’s so much more that you can do with those parts of the bird that are commonly discarded. The carcass can be saved for stock, legs and thighs into countless dishes, giblets can be cooked, wings for dog training and feathers taken for fly tying.

For our part, the pheasant gets quartered, part of the process for a classic fried chicken recipe. Leaving the bone in on the pheasant adds depth and flavor to the dish. During this process you end up with some scrap pieces that once roasted and accompanied by some vegetables and herbs, make a wonderful stock that adds flavor to any dish. If you don’t make the pheasant stock, no worries, chicken stock is a great substitute, or maybe you have some other game stock floating around in the freezer.

Bringing The Flavors Together

The magic happens once all of the ingredients have come together. The ragu gets covered and left in the oven to braise, slightly reducing and concentrating flavors. Braising is a classic form of cooking that lends itself to countless preparations, and it’s really quite simple. Almost cover the meat in your preferred liquid, bring to a simmer, cover and cook at a low temperature until the meat is juicy and tender. Also, try to do this dish ahead of time. Allowing stews, sauces, roasts and soups to cool overnight lets the flavor develop and the fats to be reabsorbed into the meat. I’m a firm believer that these types of dishes are always better the next day.

Pappardelle With Braised Pheasant Ragu And Goat Cheese – Serves 4


1 whole pheasant quartered – bone-in and skin on if possible

16 ounces of dried or fresh pappardelle noodles

1 28 oz. can crushed tomato – pureed

¾ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup red wine – good enough to drink

2 cups pheasant stock (optional) – chicken stock is an easy substitute

1 bulb garlic chopped fine

1 large yellow onion sliced into ¼ inch pieces

1 large red pepper sliced into ¼ inch pieces

Fresh rosemary – 3-5 sprigs

3 bay leaves

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Grated parmesan cheese

Goat cheese – 4 oz. log or crumbles

Fresh herbs to finish such as parsley and basil

2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

Extra virgin olive oil to finish

2 tbsp. butter


STEP 1 – Braised Pheasant Ragu

Begin by quartering your bird and preparing your vegetables. It’s very important with pasta sauces, stews and soups that you have all of your ingredients ready and accessible. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

STEP 2 – Braised Pheasant Ragu

Once your ingredients are ready, heat the vegetable oil on high in a dutch oven or deep pan that can be covered. You want the oil to just begin to smoke. This will ensure a beautiful sear on the meat. Lightly season the pheasant pieces with salt and lay in the oil skin side down. Make sure that they are not touching each other in the pan. This will allow the pieces to brown evenly. Let the meat sear on its own until it is golden. Flip the pheasant and repeat.

This is where things begin to move fast and why your ingredients should be ready. Remove the pheasant from the pan and add the red peppers, yellow onion and ¾ of the garlic. Season with salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Let the veggies cook until the onions are lightly caramelized, making sure to stir regularly so that nothing burns. Add the bay leaf and rosemary.

STEP 3 – Braised Pheasant Ragu

It’s now time to begin adding the liquids to the pan. Turn the heat down to a medium high. Nestle the meat back into the pan, pushing the pieces into the vegetables. You want as much contact with the liquids as possible. Each liquid should reduce by at least half before the next is added. Begin by adding the vinegar and cook for 3-5 minutes. Next comes the red wine, cook for 3-5 minutes. Third is the stock. Lightly season and cook for 5-10 minutes or until reduced by half. Lastly add the pureed tomato. Stir to combine the tomato, lightly season again with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart from the bone.

STEP 4 – Braised Pheasant Ragu

Once the sauce is cooled remove the pheasant pieces and pull the meat from the bones. Take your time and watch for bones. Be careful with the legs to avoid adding unwanted tendons to your dish.  Add your pulled meat to the sauce after a careful inspection.

STEP 5 – Braised Pheasant Ragu

It’s now time to serve the pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season lightly with salt. In a large sauté pan or cast iron add butter and the remaining garlic. Cook until the garlic is just golden. Add in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Check for seasoning. Boil your pasta to desired tenderness, strain and then add to the sauce along with a touch of the pasta water. This will help the sauce stick to the noodles. At this point add the goat cheese and lightly stir to incorporate into the sauce. Plate and finish with the olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and herbs.  


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Pheasant Stew with Spiced Dumplings

Pheasant Stew with Spiced Dumplings


February was a hard month, record snow falls, record low temps and one state declared emergency. February didn’t leave me a whole lot of options for outdoor adventure. The idea of trudging through thigh deep snow in the woods for one last hunt of rabbits and squirrels did cross my mind. Unfortunately that little voice in my head won out, whispering oh so softly, “but it’s so nice and warm inside and we have bourbon here

Still most of the month was spent indoors dreaming of spring and the possibility of catching trout and gathering ramps and morels. One highlight was that Netflix released a new season of the Chef’s Table with an episode featuring Sean Brock. If you are not familiar with him he is a southern chef and his book “Hearitage” is one of my favorites.

After watching his episode I pulled his book off the shelf and started flipping through the pages. I always love looking through cookbooks that I haven’t cooked out of in a while. There are always recipes that jump out to me that didn’t before. This time it was his Rabbit stew with black pepper dumplings that caught my eye.

I didn’t have any rabbits in the freezer because as I stated earlier I just couldn’t muster the motivation to go get one. I did have some squirrels in the freezer and the thought crossed my mind to use them but my wife just wasn’t feeling squirrely at the time. As I dug further into the freezer trying to find something that might be a good substitute I found a couple of small bags with pheasant legs. My wife has always enjoyed pheasant and a stew seemed like a perfect fit for some pheasant legs so I thawed them out and got to work.

This is kind of a two part recipe; the first part is just cooking the meat and getting your stock. For this I placed all the legs in a crockpot and cover them with water. To this I added one large onion, two carrots and two stalks of celery. For aromatics I added three bay leaves, a couple sprigs of thyme and a teaspoon each of juniper berries and allspice berries. Set on high for 4 hours and the meat was falling of the bone.

The difficult part about working with pheasant legs is all the tendons. There are tons of sharp little toothpick sized tendons in the legs that need to be picked out. Once the legs were cool enough to handle I picked all the meat off the bones and picked out all the tendons.

Once you have all the meat you need to strain all the liquid to get all the vegetables and little bits of stuff out of your stock. I strain mine through some cheese cloth and a fine mesh sieve. Then set the stock aside to use in the stew.



Pheasant Stew with Spiced Dumplings

For the Dumplings

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground juniper

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

1 ½ cups buttermilk


Add the flour, baking powder, salt and spices to a bowl and whisk to combine.  Cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture and work together until it resembles corn meal. Stir in the buttermilk and work into a ball. On a floured board roll out the dough to about ½ inch thick and cut out the small dumplings. I used and apple corer to make the small dumplings. Place all the dumplings on a baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. When the dumplings are done set them aside until you are ready to use them.


For the stew

3 cups shredded meat from the pheasant legs

2 quarts of the reserved stock, (you can use chicken stock if you don’t have enough)

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 large carrot, diced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup flour

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

½ tsp fresh thyme leaves


In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven heat the butter over medium high heat until the butter is melted and bubbles. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent.  When the vegetables are ready add the flour and stir until it absorbs all the butter. Add the stock and stir for a couple minutes. Add the meat back in and bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer then add the thyme and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Stir in the soy sauce then add all the dumplings and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Podcast Ep. 007: Chronic Wasting Disease In Deer

Podcast Ep. 007: Chronic Wasting Disease In Deer

Chronic Wasting Disease

The Modern Carnivore PodcastIn this seventh episode of the Modern Carnivore Podcast I sit down with Dr. Lou Cornicelli who is the Wildlife Research Manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Dr. Cornicelli has dedicated his professional career to the study and management of large ungulates (mammals with hooves). We primarily discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and the risks this disease poses to our wild deer herd. If you’re just starting your hunting journey please don’t let this topic scare you in any way from continuing with your journey, but do educate yourself on the topic as it’s an important one.

Dr. Lou Cornicelli is on the Modern Carnivore Podcast talking about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer
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Dr. Lou Cornicelli Modern Carnivore Podcast

Dr. Lou Cornicelli recording the Modern Carnivore Podcast in 2017

Why Listen to The Modern Carnivore Podcast?

With all the podcasts out there why would you want to listen to this one? Well, if you’re looking for a new adventure in the outdoors we’ve got some very interesting guests talking about topics related to honest food and wild adventures. Get ready to be entertained and enlightened on topics related to hunting, fishing, foraging…and more.

Here are a couple other podcasts you may be interested in:

Episode 6: Tom Landwehr, the former Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources talking “deer camp” and more.

Episode 5: Howard Vincent, The CEO of Pheasants Forever which is one of the leading hunting conservation organizations in the U.S.

Do you have a question that you’d like answered on the podcast, or an idea for an episode? Shoot us a note at

Reference Links For This Podcast

New CWD-positive deer in Crow Wing County and southeastern Minnesota require additional disease monitoring and management

Minnesota Lawmaker Seeks Tougher Action Against Deer Disease

CDC Map Showing Spread Of CWD Across States

2017 News Story on Cervid Farm Testing Positive for CWD in Merrifield, MN

Subscribe to the Modern Carnivore Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Podbean.

Please support the podcast by giving us honest feedback on iTunes or wherever you listen to the podcast. And if you do like it, don’t forget to tell your friends about it!

Dr. Lou Cornicelli is on the Modern Carnivore Podcast talking about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer
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Transcript Of Podcast

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Intro: 00:09

Welcome to the Modern Carnivore Podcast, a guide for those interested in hearing more about hunting, fishing, and other paths to eating more responsibly. Now, here’s your host, Mark Norquist.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 00:22

Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode seven of the Modern Carnivore Podcast. I’d like to thank everyone who has been sending notes and a positive (comments) in terms of asking when our next episode was coming out. And I do need to apologize because I have been relatively inconsistent in pushing these out, uh, recently. And that’s mainly a function of a very busy lifestyle. And I love this platform for having conversations and introducing new people to you and new topics. And so I’m really going to put an effort this next year around putting out episodes more consistently. So, uh, look for that. And again, I appreciate your positive feedback on the recent episodes. So today I am joined by Dr Lou Cornicelli. Ah, Lou is a leading wildlife biologist who has really dedicated his career to the study of large ungulates. For those of you aren’t familiar with the term ungulates, it is a hooved mammal.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 01:31       

Uh, so things like deer, elk, moose, et cetera. And he is the Wildlife Research Manager for the Department of Natural Resources. What we talk about today is a little bit of the history of science in managing wildlife. Uh, for those of you listen to other podcasts, it is the North American model that we reference quite often. We talk about a pretty serious issue and that is chronic wasting disease or CWD. We do a pretty deep dive so that you can better understand the facts around it. And then on the back half, Lou talks about a recent, a little bit of a while ago, but uh, uh, recent Elk hunt in Colorado up at 11,000 feet when he packed in with some horses and took some new hunters and their experience. So, the main bulk of today’s conversation is on a very serious topic and that is chronic wasting disease or CWD, in deer.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 02:33

To give you a little bit of background and just to try to take a lot of this deep science and try to make it into some, some manageable chunks to understand. What it is, is a, it’s a, it’s a protein or a misshapen protein that causes a holes in the brain of the animal in, in deer in this case that were focusing on, it was first discovered in 1967 in Colorado. It’s similar to, um, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, which is BSC, but the more common term is mad cow disease or, uh, Creutzfeldt-Jakob (disease). Uh, which is hard to say. I don’t even know if I pronounced it properly there. But it’s a very rare disease that’s a very rare disease in humans. Uh, it’s, it’s, it’s important to note that CWD is not (been) found to transfer to humans. Uh, they have not found any, any proof to that.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 03:31

Uh, these, there’ve been studying it for quite some time and it’s a slow growing disease, but it is impacting the population levels of deer. That’s what they’re finding. And so that’s where a big concern comes about. It’s been found in at least 24 states and basically we’re going to have to live with this disease in the wild deer herd, but we can manage it in the best ways possible. And that’s I think something that is important. And again, no, that there isn’t any evidence that this disease can be transferred to humans. Now that being said, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) does recommend not eating any meat from an infected dear, um, just to, just to be, just to be safe. But this disease really does cause concern for all of us, both the health and safety of our wildlife as well as the economic costs and risks to activities like deer hunting, which in the state of Minnesota, hunting both deer and other animals represents $1.3 `billion of economic value to this state every year.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 04:45

So it’s a, it’s a very significant economic impact as well as all of the other benefits of, of this form of hunting. So I also want to to, to preface this conversation for new hunters with, with the, the statement of, you know, don’t, don’t let this discussion dampen your enthusiasm about getting out into the woods. This is an issue that you need to be aware of and you need to understand it better. Hopefully today’s discussion helps in that process, but it shouldn’t stop you from continuing your hunting journey. Uh, make sure you engage with others and ask questions so that you’re informed on the topic and you know, what’s, what’s going on.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 05:34

So a personal note now, um, this topic of CWD has gotten very personal for me in just the last 24 hours. This upcoming discussion, you’re going to listen to Dr. Cornicelli and I talk and we actually recorded this in the fall of 2017 so a while ago. And we reference in that discussion a cervid farm near my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota. And it’s not too far from my hunting camp. Well, just yesterday, about 14 months after this discussion with Dr. Cornicelli We have our first recorded CWD-positive wild deer case outside of what’s considered the hot zone, which are three counties down in southeast Minnesota. This is where the disease within our state has historically been found through testing. And so this press release that just came out yesterday is regarding a wild deer from northern Minnesota, nearly 300 miles from the southeast region of the state where that hot zone is and and wild deer have have been tested and found to have the disease. However, this, this announcement yesterday also points out that it was only a half mile from the captive cervid farm that Dr. Cornicelli and I are talking about in this conversation from nearly two years ago.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 07:03

And so the important thing to know is that that cervid farm, did/head previously been found to have CWD-positive deer inside their fences. Another thing I’d like to clarify because there’s a lot of terms thrown around and just to make sure everybody understands this, so when we talk about captive cervid farms, what are they? It’s really a fenced-`in area, generally wooded acreage or a farm where deer and elk are captive and then harvested through shooting. I wouldn’t call it hunting or as Dr. Cornicelli says, it’s high fence killing of domesticated animals. So you might hear terms, other terms reference of these types of operations, either highfence hunts or shooting pens or shooting preserves. But that’s what we’re talking about here. And I’m sure that most of these captive cervid farms are doing everything they can to contain their animals and stop the spread of this disease. But the reality is that the evidence points to an undeniable connection between these outfits and the disease.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 08:16

Minnesota has confirmed CWD in seven, at least seven, I believe, farmed cervid operations. So we know it’s there. Uh, the announcement yesterday again, was just within a half mile of a captive cervid facility. And that same facility had previously had CWD-positive deer found inside, inside of their fences. And, so then the question may come of, okay, well where did it come from inside of that farm? Well, that farm had previously bought a deer or exchanged deer with another cervid farm that the USDA had found had also had CWD and they actually bought it, the USDA bought that farm and depopulated it . In other words they euthanized every one of the deer because of the risk of it was posing to the herd.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 09:17

So the reality is that when deer are transported from one operation to another, we, we see a connection in that transfer of CWD. And here in Minnesota, like many states across the US, the challenge is that, um, the Board Of Animal Health oversees regulation of livestock such as these farms, but the Department of Natural Resources oversees the regulation and management of the wild deer herd. And all we have between those two populations are these wire fences. And the reality is, um, that, that there are oftentimes breaches in these and we get a mixture of those, those two herds.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 10:05

So the question you need to consider is what level of risk are we willing to take with our wild deer herd and what can be done to manage the risk in the best way possible? Here in Minnesota, right now, we have a legislator, Minnesota representative, Jamie Becker-Finn. Uh, she recently introduced legislation, um, or discuss legislation this last week to get in front of CWD and better manage the risks to our deer herd and the hunting community. And I’ll put information on, on those, those, uh, links within the shownotes page.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 10:45

So, I hope today’s conversation is informative and that you come away with some new insights on these topics and, uh, enjoy.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 10:57

Okay. I am joined this morning here with Lou Cornicelli. Uh, who is a, I believe your current role is wildlife research manager.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Lou: 11:05

I am.

Mark: 11:05    

Okay. Great. For the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Um, I’ve known Lou for quite a few years here. I think we met with the adult mentored hunt.

Lou: 11:15   

We mentored adult learn to hunt folks. Yeah. Saint Croix State Park.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 11:21 

Absolutely. Um, and, uh, and so, you know, I’ve, I’ve obviously read a lot of things in terms of you, you were previously, uh, the big game program leader here in Minnesota, correct?

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Lou: 11:33


Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 11:33

Okay. And in that role, you from a biologist perspective are setting standards for management of, of the deer herd, correct?

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Lou: 11:44 

Correct. Yeah. We, everything from helping set population goals with a public process to designing regulations that at the time that I started, the regulations were designed, or, I was charged with figuring out easier ways to kill deer. So we’d, we’d gotten rid of the lottery system in 2003 and a lot of the state. And so, you know, the goals were to make it easier for people to get out and hunt and take deer. Figure out what those populations should be. And also we did a lot of work on looking at alternative regulations. Uh, we did a lot of antler point restriction research that, that culminated in that APR that’s down in the southeastern Minnesota. So we, you know, do a lot with deer, you know, and then that big game position also covers moose and elk. So it’s a, it’s a fulltime times two job.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 12:34             

So here’s one thing that I think a lot of people, actually, there was, there was a study this last year, uh, on, on general American population regarding the topic of hunting and I found it interesting that a lot of people did not realize, or do not realize, um, that, that the animal populations are managed. Uh, they just sort of, you know, have this idea that people grab a gun and go out and hunt and they aren’t regulated. And so, maybe if you could share with people just what is the basics of, I mean, your discipline in terms of how, how wildlife is managed?

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Lou: 13:08              

Yeah, I mean that’s, that’s uh, it’s a good history to tell. Um, a lot of wildlife harvest was unregulated through the turn of the 20th century, into the 1900s. And that’s where you saw the depletion of game populations, extinction of some species like the passenger pigeon. Um, the dramatic declines in waterfowl for plumage, uh, uh, you know, in 1903 Theodore Roosevelt designated the first National Wildlife Refuge – Pelican Island. Um, so that, that conservation history really started with, uh, the Boone and Crockett club that was formed by Gifford Pincho and Theodore Roosevelt and others through a conservation congress. And it’s evolved over time. And really the first game laws came into, uh, into effect in the very early 1900s with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 the Lacey act in 1900 or 1903. So we, we had this, we being our, you know, the, the folks who thought deeply about perpetuation of games, species, um, started to institute, these laws and over time starting really with Aldo Leopold in Wisconsin, we had this, this field called wildlife management and people started to, to, to manage game populations and Leopold wrote a book and I think it was 1933 or 38 called Game Management. And that’s still a book that students have to read. It’s the basic premise of managing fish and game populations for the public good. And this profession has really evolved through that time. And it’s that modern conservation through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses that gives us the, the species that we have today. So we, we work, we work are managed under a system where users pay the form of licenses but everyone benefits. And that benefit is, it can be consumptive, it can be nonconsumptive so that, you know, our field really came about as a product of over harvest and no regulations to where it is now, where we’ve actively manage wildlife species and more, more importantly, their habitats for the benefit of both the species and the folks that like to use them.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Mark: 15:18            

You know, and that, that’s something that, that I love. I love telling that story of, of, of um, hunters and anglers who raised their hands and said, we need to self regulate back when they’re back, when there were problems. And I think it a, it was a very, the outcome was exactly what you said, what we have today and we’ve got healthy populations, we’ve got these wonderful wild places that everyone has access to and can benefit from.

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Lou: 15:47       

Yeah, I agree. You know, and I think what I think what does also get lost. Um, if you think about, let’s, let’s forget anglers, I don’t, I don’t deal so much with the event, but, uh, if you think about hunters, I, uh, the most people and probably including hunters, don’t know that this thing we call the North American model of wildlife conservation is funded by people who, by hunting and fishing licenses. And I can speak for my agency, a division of fish and wildlife. I work in the section of wildlife. We get no tax revenue. We didn’t, we get zero for general fund money. Now we get outdoor heritage money that we compete for.

Remainder pending…

Podcast: Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Outro: 29:36

Thanks for listening to the Modern Carnivore podcast on Chronic Wasting Disease with Dr. Lou Cornicelli. You can continue the journey by going to

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Pike Fever And The Lure Of Spearing Fish

Pike Fever And The Lure Of Spearing Fish


Buck Fever

There is a well known phenomenon in the hunting world called “buck fever”. Many seasoned hunters and newbies alike have fallen victim to it. You can practice all you want for your hunt but nothing fully prepares you for that moment when  a monster buck steps out of the woods and gives you an opportunity at a shot. Your heart races and you can feel it beat in every inch of your body.

Many hunters have a hard time remembering what comes next. The release of an arrow, or firing of a shot seems a distant memory just after the experience. Sometimes you hit your target and sometimes you don’t. Either way there is just blank time in your memory, and you struggle to remember what can be considered that most critical of moments in the hunt.

It has happened to every hunter at some point. Whether it was your first deer or your first really big buck, the feeling is unavoidable. What most people don’t know is that this can happen when your not aiming at a once in a life time buck. It can happen when you’re not even hunting, but spearing fish.

Fishing…With A Spear


The lesser known version of this malady is pike fever. Much like buck fever it comes at the end of a long wait and many hours of anticipating the moment. I recently witnessed pike fever while out for a day of spearing fish, northern pike to be exact, on a central Minnesota lake.

More Hunting Than Fishing

Spearing fish is a fascinating subculture of ice fishing. Unlike ice anglers who set out with hook and line to catch their fish, the tool of choice for these hearty souls is a metal spear. Spearing fish is a lot more like hunting than it is fishing. You have to scout out an area where you think large northern pike might swim by you. Then you cut  large hole in the ice and set a “dark house” (a portable pop-up shelter or semi-permanent fishing shack) over the hole to block out the light. (See the process in our previous video post.)


Peering Into The Underworld

The next part in this process is to start peering in on what is basically the best aquarium you have ever seen. On lakes with good water clarity you can see the bottom of the lake as deep as 15 feet, and all the fish that swim beneath you. At this point it becomes a waiting game to see if you picked the right spot.

In Minnesota spearing fish of certain types is legal from a dark house during the winter months. This includes Northern Pike, Lake Whitefish and several species of rough fish. There are days that you won’t see a single pike but you are always treated to some variety of fish swimming beneath your feet.

On a recent outing five of us spent the whole day out trying to get a monster. Between the five of us we saw walleye, bass, trout and a bunch of northern pike. We managed to spear a few small Northerns, but we never managed to connect with a true monster.


The Small Submarine

Towards the end of our day I had pretty much given up on seeing a big fish. My buddy Shawn, who was in a dark house about 40 yards away, sent me a text saying that he’d just laid eyes on the biggest pike he had ever seen. Immediately after getting the text I saw what looked like a small submarine drift through my hole, without even looking at my decoy.

It was the fish we had been waiting for all day. Quickly I jigged my decoy a couple of times hoping it would attract the eye of this giant fish. I waited about five minutes until I was certain it wasn’t coming back. I ran over to Shawn’s dark house to see if he had gotten a chance at the fish. The big pike had done the same thing to him. He just got a quick glimpse of the beast, and it kept on swimming.


As we stood there hoping it would show itself again I looked down the hole and saw a different fish. I pointed it out to Shawn and he got his spear ready. As the fish moved in towards Shawn’s decoy he got his spear over the top of it. Right before the fish reached his decoy it darted to the left and started making its way out of the hole. Shawn tossed his spear through the water column, but missed by a country mile.

Pike Fever

I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. What looked like a sure thing ended in a clear miss. I asked Shawn what happened, but he didn’t know. I relayed to him what had just occurred, but he didn’t remember the fish turning. After seeing the giant pike pass through his hole and having this big fish so close…he had the pike fever.

It wasn’t the biggest fish we’d seen but it was easily a 30 inch pike, which would have been great to bring home. After waiting and watching all day, when the opportunity finally came it was just too much for him. The upside to Pike fever is that it always leaves you wanting more. That night at dinner all we could talk about was when we were going to get back out and try it again.

Related stories on spearing fish from Modern Carnivore:
Spearing fish (northern pike) through the ice and a recipe for fish chowder. 
Spearing lake whitefish (video) and several recipes with smoked whitefish

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Poor Man’s Lobster, The Original

Poor Man’s Lobster, The Original

Poor Man’s Lobster

(Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 in an ongoing series on “Poor Man’s Lobster”)


What is Poor Man’s Lobster?

If you ask 10 different fishermen you might get 10 different answers.

I was at work the other day talking with a guy about fishing and he got all excited about his favorite recipe. He used to catch Northern Pike and fillet them leaving the y-bones in. He would soak the fillets for three days in vinegar. After that he would rinse the meat and boil it in sugar water, serving it with drawn butter. He  called it “Poor Man’s Lobster”.

I’ve heard similar stories to this many times. It usually starts with some kind of fish that most people don’t like. That fish is usually boiled in some strange liquid and always served with butter. The person making it almost always adds, “it tastes just like lobster”.

Do any of them actually taste like lobster? How many different versions are there? I did a little research to find out what everyone considered “poor man’s lobster”. I also asked around on a few different Facebook forums to see what people would say.

There were hundreds of responses. For example Gar boiled in 7-UP or Black Fish Poached in lemon, and of course served with butter. I decided that I should try as many of the recipes as I could, just to see if any of them actually tasted like lobster.

Let The Testing Begin

Where to start? I decide to start this journey with the original poor man’s lobster, which is…lobster. Prior to the late 1800’s lobsters were so plentiful and undesirable they were fed to prisoners and livestock. The lobster being served had generally been of the type washed up on shore, and so it was generally not of the best quality.

In the late 1800’s people started trapping lobsters and eating them fresh. After that everyone started to realize how good lobsters could be as table fare. It didn’t take long for lobster to catch on and ultimately become the delicacy that is revered by so many today.

In Part 2 of this series I will be testing the Minnesota version of poor man’s lobster which is based on the much-maligned eel pout (burbot). Look for this post in the coming weeks. But first, a recipe for the original poor man’s lobster.

My Version Of Poor Man’s Lobster

Since most of the recipes I found for poor man’s lobster involved dipping it in butter I am going to make each upcoming version two different ways. The first will be with butter and the second will be made into a lobster roll. Lobster rolls are one of my favorite ways to eat lobster.

My Lobster Roll  

1 cup chopped lobster meat

2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise more or less depending on how much you like mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup of celery finely chopped

1 green onion thinly sliced

1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning.

Mix all ingredients together and serve on a toasted hot dog bun or Brioche roll.


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Duck Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

Duck Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy


I remember when I was young not understanding at all, why anyone would want to eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast. It never smelled that good to me, and when I did try it the biscuits were dry and crumbly and the gravy tasted the way I imagined dog food to taste.

When I left home for the Navy I decided to give biscuits and gravy another try. The conclusion I came to was the US Navy does many things right, and biscuits and gravy wasn’t one of those things.

I had pretty much written off the idea of ever enjoying biscuits and gravy until a few years ago. I was at my brother’s house and he was making scratch biscuits along with some some gravy. Trying to hide my disappointment I gladly took a plate. I am a firm believer that if someone is going to make you food that you sit down and eat it. You then say thank you when you are done.

A Curious Surprise

My disappointment changed to curiosity after the first bite. These biscuits and gravy that my brother had made were not like anything I had ever had before.  I don’t know what changed that day or what secret magic my brother had worked but I really liked that breakfast. The biscuits were light and flaky with a slightly crisp bottom. The gravy was meaty and not overly salty, I gladly accepted seconds and started brainstorming immediately how I could replicate this with wild game.


Trial and Retrial

My first attempt was with some antelope breakfast sausage I had made. The biscuits were good but the sausage I had made included a good amount of maple syrup in it. The extra sweetness didn’t really work in the gravy. After that I tried an Italian sausage with venison. It was good but the sausage was a bit overpowering. I then tried a venison chorizo, and a juniper moose sausage as well, but still nothing really stood out to me as a great sausage gravy.

Damn Tasty

Depending on how successful my duck season is, I like to make a duck sausage with garlic and sage. It’s a really nice blend of ingredients. Stuffed into a casing, I like to grill it and then serve it up with some kraut and spicy brown mustard. It’s also a great bulk sausage and is one of the main ingredients in my duck and cornbread dressing. This year I was fortunate enough to make a five-pound batch, so I figured I should try it in the biscuits in gravy.

It was a match made in heaven, love at first site, soul mates, or whatever cliché you would like to use. It was damn tasty! The gravy was the perfect combo of duck, garlic and sage and was exactly what I was looking for. It is now, and will be in the future, the only sausage I will make with my biscuits and gravy. This probably means I need to start doing more duck hunting.

Here is the sausage recipe to get you started on your way to biscuits and gravy perfection.

Duck Sausage Biscuits and Gravy Recipe

Duck Sausage

3 ½ pounds of duck meat, cut into pieces that will fit into your grinder

1 ½ pounds of fatty pork, cut into pieces that will fit into your grinder

40 grams of kosher salt

¼ cup fresh sage

1 tsp fresh thyme

6-8 cloves of garlic, depending on how much garlic you prefer

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 cup red wine


Mix together all the ingredients minus the red wine. Feed through your grinder using a medium grinding plate. After grinding add the red wine and mix with your hands until the wine in absorbed. Package in one pound packs and use for stuffing or gravy or any other purpose you find.


Duck Gravy

1 pound Duck sausage

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

½ cup chopped parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large pan melt the butter and brown the sausage. When the sausage is cooked, add the flour and stir until the flour is all absorbed. Slowly pour in the milk and cook on low until the gravy thickens. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over your favorite biscuits. Here’s a link to a simple recipe for buttermilk biscuits from our friends over at Taste Of Home.


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