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5 Small Game Recipes to Get You Through the Season

Small Game Recipes

Small game recipes come and go, but these five are here to stay.

Small game recipes are the backbone of our passion for the hunt. Even veteran deer hunters started early on by eating animals like rabbits, squirrel, doves, hog, and turkey. It got us looking for the best way to cook them, and the lucky have found ways to make it some of the best food you can put in your mouth.

Venison might have the highest place in our hearts and minds, but the first time that we tried some fried squirrel we were hooked. Game meat is some of the most tasty things that we ever put on the BBQ, and whether it was game birds like wild turkey or pheasant it still took us back to our roots in small game hunting.

Big game has its place in our dutch oven, but when we want to get right down to some easy cooking and good eating, critters like cottontails, young squirrels, or woodcock are what we fancy.

Here are five simple, tried and true recipes that will take you back to the kitchen with a smile, and all you have to do is go hunting!

1. Country-Style Squirrel

Ingredients:

  • Minimum two squirrels
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Flour
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of water

Cut squirrel into small, frying pan size pieces. Salt and pepper then roll in flour until well coated. Put the meat in a skillet of hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove squirrel and most of the oil. Now, add water and bring to a boil. Place the squirrel meat back into the skillet, turn to low heat, cover and cook for approximately one hour.

Serve with baked potatoes.

Recipe thanks to cooks.com.

2. Helen's Dove and Dumplings

small game recipes
Mobile Bay Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped with leaves
  • 3 small onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 25 doves, cleaned
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
  • 3/4 cup water
  • chopped parsley, optional for garnish

The work:

Boil the chicken broth with celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper, then add doves and simmer until tender: 20-30 minutes. Remove doves and let cool. Return your broth to a boil.

Lightly flour a work surface, mix flour with water to form a ball of dough- not too sticky.

Roll dough into a very thin rectangle, and cut it into strips. Pull each strip up from the surface, stretching slightly to make it even thinner.

Drop strips into the boiling broth one at a time, and cook for approximately 20-minutes.

Shred dove meat. When dumplings are cooked, add shredded dove meat to broth and adjust seasonings.

Prepare for a feast courtesy of Mobile Bay Magazine

3. Braised Wild Boar Shanks

small game recipes
Food & Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 6 wild boar shanks (about 5 pounds)
  • 12 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 8 star anise pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Two 4-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) or 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • Steamed rice and cilantro, for serving

The work according to Food & Wine:   

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the boar shanks in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven.

Add the garlic, star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water, soy sauce, sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and sugar and scrape up any bits stuck to the pan. 

Pour the liquid into the casserole and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until the meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone, about 2 hours; turn the shanks occasionally.   

Transfer the shanks to shallow bowls and strain the broth. Spoon off as much fat as possible. Serve the shanks with rice and cilantro and spoon some of the fragrant broth on top.

4. White Bean Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • 30oz can of cannellini beans
  • 15 oz black eyes peas,
  • 2 lbs wild turkey
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Small onion
  • Anaheim pepper
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • 2T garlic
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

The instructions:

5. Hare Stew

small game recipes
Honest Food

Ingredients:

  • 4 hare hind legs
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

The work thanks to Mateja Lane:

Salt the hare (bunny, cottontail, coney) and coat in spices. Set aside for 30 minutes to "marinate."

"Heat some olive oil up in a pot or dutch oven and brown each leg. Remove legs when cooked and add onions and garlic until browned. Onions take a bit longer so you can put them in first. Add half the parsley and the vinegar into the pot. Add a cup of hot water to the pot and add the browned hare legs.

Cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Check to see if the meat is falling off the bone. If ready, remove legs and strip the meat from the bone. Return to the pot with the rest of the parsley and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over polenta or with some fresh bread."

Soon we'll all be marinating our fresh backstrap or trying a new stew recipe, but first things first and small game seasons come ahead of everything else. Before you know it waterfowl season will be here, but before we go that far let's enjoy the rest of the summer and get ready for the cool weather and hot food!

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NEXT: FINALLY! HERE'S THE BEST WAY TO MAKE VENISON CHEESESTEAKS

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5 Small Game Recipes to Get You Through the Season