I can barely close the door of my basement freezer because of the abundance of venison. This season I had the good fortune of filling two deer tags, a buck and a doe, each a beautiful, large-bodied animal. My son added meat to the larder with a buck of his own, leaving scant room for the bounty from our pheasant and duck hunts. We won't buy meat at a grocery store anytime soon.
For my family and others who hunt, angle and forage, we are living in something of a golden age of cookbooks specializing in game, fish, and fungi, primarily because so many of us share a newfound concern about where our food comes from. Michael Hunter writes in the introduction to "The Hunter Chef Cookbook" that he discovered that "hunting and foraging, and being inspired by the resources of the land, could lead to profound creativity in the kitchen."
Here are four noteworthy new cookbooks suitable the hunter, angler or forager on a holiday gift list:
The Hunter Chef Cookbook: Hunt, Fish, and Forage in Over 100 Recipes (Penguin Canada, $30)
Author: Michael Hunter, founder, owner and chef of Antler Kitchen & Bar in Toronto
Description: Hunter became internet-famous a few years ago for butchering a deer in the front window of his restaurant in the face of animal welfare activists. This is a gorgeous, hardcover cookbook with compelling photos and sophisticated gourmet recipes. In addition to large and small game and fish, Hunter covers foraging, including recipes for wild blueberries, nettles, and leeks. And the Wild Desserts and Foraged Cocktails section highlights the flavors of spruce, maple, and sumac.
Bottom line: A beautiful cookbook, suitable for the coffee table and the kitchen.
Venison Every Day: The No-Fuss Guide to Cooking Game at Home
Author: Allie Doran, food blogger at Miss Allie's Kitchen (Page Street, $21.99)
Description: Venison often gets a bad rap for being too tough and "gamy." Doran overcomes that label through extensive recipe development. She includes both classic comfort foods such as shepherd's pie and stroganoff, and global dishes such as kebabs and curry. Venison for breakfast? Yes, there's a whole section on that, including a kale-mushroom frittata and a chorizo quiche. Doran also includes helpful sections on how to butcher and freeze venison, plus tips for getting the most out of the meat.
Bottom line: If you've got a freezer full of venison, this is the cookbook for you.
Complete Wild Game Cookbook: 190+ Recipes for Hunters and Anglers
Author: Bri Van Scotter, food blogger at Wilderness to Table (Rockridge Press, $26.99)
Description: Trained as a high-end chef, Van Scotter married a hunter and then set out to show the possibilities and versatility with wild game cooking. As well as venison, waterfowl and upland recipes, she has a section on cooking bear and wild boar, increasingly popular hunts these days. This cookbook forgoes the fancy photos and verbose descriptions and gets right down to business with a large catalog of recipes such as goose pastrami sandwiches and pheasant samosas with mango-tamarind chutney, plus tips on how to make the best stock.
Bottom line: A workaday cookbook for the multispecies hunter-angler.
Wild Mushrooms: A Cookbook and Foraging Guide
Authors: Kristen and Trent Blizzard, creators of the Modern Forager blog (Skyhorse, $19.99)
Description: The Blizzards drew upon not only their own experiences but also the wisdom of 20 other expert foragers to put together a go-to guide for storing (drying, pickling, even making jams) and cooking all sorts of mushrooms. (This is not, however, a guide to picking mushrooms.) The recipes are divided up by the type of mushroom, highlighting everything from the easiest mushroom to find (Chicken of the Woods Coconut curry) to the more elusive (Creamed Morels on Toast).
Bottom line: Whether you get your mushrooms from the supermarket or the forest floor, a worthy addition to your library.
Tony Jones is a writer and podcaster. Reach him at reverendhunter.com.
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