First Time Out

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We’re now in the full swing of hunting season and boy, does it feel good. You may have already cooked up a heart and liver. Maybe you have already promised a friend to trade your farmers market canned goods for a tenderloin. Either way, it’s here. And it was worth the wait.

This week, I got to experience my first hunt. I was finally able to justify all the money I’ve spent on tags and camo and put my newly learned skills to use. I had been obsessing over this day for a year, and it was just as exciting as I had hoped. With eyes wide, a grin from ear to ear and my mind racing, I headed into our mountains for my first time out.

I can already tell you that the most important thing is to enjoy the hunt. Take advantage of the excuse to hike in the woods. Relish in the beauty of our hometown, in places we wouldn’t ordinarily get to see. Be thankful for the time spent with your hunting partner and friend, or for the time spent alone. It’s overwhelmingly exciting and peaceful all at the same time. There is nothing else like it.

Much like participating in sports, sometimes the best part is the celebration afterwards. People playing on a co-ed softball team go out after a game and share a pizza and a pitcher. A long day of skiing or snowboarding is usually followed by dinner and drinks at some trendy spot in town. It’s all about tradition and being together with friends and food. It’s no different for hunters: Whether you saddle up to a bar for a burger after an unsuccessful hunt — or enjoy your first meal from this year’s kill — it’s nice to feast and reminisce after a long day.

This time, I was celebrating my very first hunt. For the special occasion, I needed a special meal. Stroganoff seemed worthy. Growing up, beef stroganoff was my favorite meal to come out of my grandmother’s kitchen. It was always comforting, filling and tasted the same every time. I knew it would be the perfect post-hunt dinner. In typical fashion, I add booze to my stroganoff. It makes it better, trust me. I always have a bottle of Maker’s Mark in my cabin. If you have Jack, that’ll do. If you aren’t a whiskey drinker and happen to have cognac or brandy, that’ll do, too.

Venison Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. venison tenderloin, cleaned and chopped into cubes, seasoned with salt and pepper (if you don’t have venison, use beef or any other wild game)
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms (I used fresh crimini, but if you have dried morels, use those!)
  • ¾ Cup beef stock
  • ½ Cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • ¼ Cup whiskey

Instructions

  • In a skillet, melt half of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender.
  • Once tender, remove the onions and set aside.
  • Add the remaining butter and mushrooms to the skillet.
  • Once mushrooms have started to brown, add the meat and brown.
  • Once the meat has started to brown, but is not cooked all the way through, deglaze with whiskey.
  • Scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Add the onions, garlic, Dijon, paprika and cook until whiskey reduces, about 1 minute.
  • Add stock and cook for about 4 minutes. Careful not to cook too long, or meat will be tough.
  • Turn off the heat. Stir in sour cream and lemon zest.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over pasta or rice.
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About Author

Originally from Southern California, Malorie was called to Jackson Hole by the mountains and wildlife. With a passion for local sustainability and all things outdoors, she fit right in. She’s a pastry chef by day and creamery salesperson by night. She was classically trained at a Culinary Institute and cooked her way around the country. Since then, she’s taken an interest in hunting and gathering. She believes in growing all you can, hunting for what you can’t, and creating everything else from scratch. Her love for history and nostalgia plays a big role in her lifestyle and cooking. Malorie also enjoys raising chickens, black and white movies, and whiskey.

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