As I’ve reiterated multiple times on this blog, I am far from a real man. I possess neither the intestinal fortitude or necessary aim to hunt, I’ve had a Rihanna song stuck in my head for a week, and I occasionally have nightmares that the chickens I slaughtered have come back from the dead and found me. So, I rely on my friends and family to keep me in a steady supply of game meats for my cooking. This posts highlights two of those friends and the meal I made with the spoils of their labor.
First up is Bill Busch Sr., the father of my friend and occasional blog character, Buschy. Bill is a former exec at UPS, the all-time penalty minutes leader in Fort Erie Meteors history, and, in my opinion, missed his calling as a champion peanut eater. Since retiring a few years ago, Bill has been doing a lot of what every dude dreams of doing when he retires; golfing and fishing. And I mean serious fishing.
That fish is from an epic salmon fishing trip in Alaska he recently took with a few friends. The trip sounded friggin’ amazing and made me really look forward to retirement (only 7,000 more days of work to go!!!). The best part is that he sent me one of the most beautiful pieces of fish I have ever seen, from a chinook salmon, via Buschy a few weeks ago.
Back in the continuous 48, I’ve got one of my food heroes living a short 3 and a half hours from Boston in Ripton, VT. Bill Sargent is the brother of Kristi’s aunt Sue and, in an unrelated note, this is the exact moment that I realized I was writing about two guys named Bill and how this could be an issue. From here on out, VT Bill is Billy. Anyhoo, Billy is a consistently successful deer hunter.
Beyond generously giving me a few pounds of homemade venison sausage meat and some steaks, Billy also knows more about food than I could ever hope to. He’s worked in dining services at Middlebury college for 30+ years and is currently the head of purchasing. If I mention an ingredient I am looking for ideas on how to cook, he will generally have 10 ideas for me in under 30 seconds. You can thank him for my eventual attempt at pork hock osso bucco.
Quick aside: my father in-law Ken deserves a post of his own after bringing down a 4-pointer during bow season this year and saving me the liver and heart. However, our newest blog villain Kristi forgot to bring the organs home to me and they were subsequently thrown out. Janet reacts more maturely to being tired and hungry than my reaction to discovering Kristi forgot the offal.
Now that we are through the well deserved acknowledgments, here’s that incredible piece of salmon and the venison sausage.
After thawing both for 24 hours, I was ready to start cooking. My plan was to roast the salmon and serve it with a venison hash. First step was dicing a peeled sweet potato.
Once the sweet potato, russet potato, and a white onion were chopped and ready to go, I started browning the venison sausage.
After this browned for a bit, I turned up the heat and dumped in the potatoes, onions, a little garlic and a tablespoon of butter to add some richness.
The hash needed to sit for awhile and get some caramelization on the veggies, so I started working on the salmon.
My plan was to sear the salmon skin-down in a cast iron pan for a few minutes then add a glaze of maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic and pepper before finishing it under the broiler.
While the salmon broiled, I gave the hash a good stirring to check on the tenderness of the potatoes and stirred in a splash of maple syrup to add a little extra sweetness.
With the hash ready to go I pulled the salmon out of the oven and we were good to go. Well, not actually. As it turns out, cooking a two inch thick piece of salmon is a little different than the normal fillets I am used to. The inside was quite raw. Had to transfer to a broiling pan and bake for another 5 minutes or so.
Along with some pan seared Brussel sprouts seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, you had a nice looking plate of food.
The salmon, though slightly overcooked by this DB (AKA The Salmon Spoiler), was flavorful, tender and tasted more like salmon than anything I’ve ever purchased in a grocery store. The sweet and garlicky glaze was a nice compliment to the flavor. If anything, the quality of the salmon saved the meal, since a lesser cut would have been incredibly unpleasant cooked the same amount.
The hash on the other hand was freaking ridiculous. Very rich with just the right amount of sweetness and potato texture to contrast with the salty, minerally flavors from the venison sausage. It was addictive; Conor snuck into the kitchen to polish off half of the leftovers an hour later and Kristi had the final couple spoonfuls with breakfast. Kinda crazy, I made two pounds of hash!
Big thanks to Bill and Billy for giving me delicious food that I love experimenting with. I can’t wait for Bill’s next fishing trip and to use that other pound of Billy’s venison sausage in a new way.
‘Till next week, thanks for the reading and the patience in between posting. Follow me on twitter (@PeterisADB) or subscribe via the link on the right to get alerts when I put up new posts.