It was a meal from field to table on every level. Three hors d’ouevres and five courses. Pheasant, grouse, elk, turkey and walleye, among others, all making appearances.
Minnesota outdoors icon Ron Schara provided the game. Twin Cities chef Jim Kyndberg provided his expert hand. Kyndberg is the executive chef at FireLake Grill House at the Radisson Blu in downtown Minneapolis.
Schara and Kyndberg are connected through Schara’s “Minnesota Bound” television show. And Kyndberg frequently cooks with another Schara: Ron’s daughter Laura. They pair up in segments called “Wild in the Kitchen.” Ron Schara and Kyndberg have talked about collaborating on a wild game meal for more than a year, Kyndberg said.
The chef is comfortable in the world where the outdoors and game cooking overlap. “Since I’ve been a young kid, I have been an avid outdoorsman, hunting, fishing, and I’ve watched ‘Minnesota Bound’ all 20 years that it’s been airing. And I love what it stands for, all things Minnesota.”
“As a chef, I love a good challenge, and wild game definitely presents a challenge,” he added.
Game meat typically is extremely lean. The meat has “great depth and unique flavors, but you have to respect the proteins as you cook them,” Kyndberg said. “The worst thing you can do is overcook them. And I think a lot of people rely on heavy marinades, masking those natural flavors.”
With a quality product, Kyndberg said he likes to rely on “salt and pepper and good, solid cooking techniques.”
Those techniques produced last week for Schara and his guests at his Ramsey home. Among the starters were Wild Rice Soup, garnished with grouse nuggets, and Smoked Goose Crostini. Kyndberg also made Pheasant Wellington with Morel Mushroom Sauce; Wild Turkey Tamales topped with a walleye filet; and Slow-Roasted Elk Loin, crusted with panko and Parmesan.
What game does it for the chef?
“I love duck. Duck and wild mushrooms,” Kyndberg said. “That is what I’d eat for my last supper.”