The Meat Eater Cookbook, hunting, and games! 🥩

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Hi, I am Chef Zara. In this post, I will guide you through the Meat Eater Cookbook.

I love discovering new food and cooking with friends and family. One of the most common questions that I often get is for cookbook recommendations. I have created this guide for friends, family, and new friends alike. I hope that you enjoy our site.

Meateater, fish, and game. Cookbook recipes and techniques!

Steve Rinella is a television and podcast personality who is highly respected as an expert on all things hunting; he is an author, television host, and podcaster. While many activists consider hunting a cruel and unjust sport conducted by brutal and unfair people, Steve, and his approach to hunting, dispels this notion on his long-awaited definitive guide; he is not one of those “trophy hunters” that you see popping up in the news for killing Cecil the Lion. In listening to him speak on the subject, one might get the impression that they are listening to a pastor conducting a sermon for Sunday mass; he views the wild game he hunts as almost sacred, and he makes sure the kill is carried out in the quickest, most ethical and painless manner possible. 

Steve does provide us with some down-to-earth classics such as thanksgiving wild turkey with salt, pepper, and olive oil, but, as is evident throughout his book, these take a back seat to the more exotic and, dare I say, challenging to our norms, types of recipes.  

Now, look at these dishes and run for the hills! 🏃‍♂️

The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook

Chapter One: Big Game

Marrow Bones with Celery and Pickled Raisins p.33

Steve first realized the importance of bone marrow during his studies into the Paleo-Indian archeological culture, where this meaty/buttery treat was a staple. To make things interesting, he incorporates a side dish of celery with pickled raisins.   

Venison Carpaccio pp.34-35 

If you are not familiar with the term, “Carpaccio” is a reference to “raw meat.” According to Steve, Arctic caribou hunters would bring their kill home, and the family would “devour” the entire animal raw right in the middle of the house. He also warns that many takes issue with “Carpaccio” for health and safety concerns, so he makes sure that the kill is cleaned and stored correctly with the additional step of freezing the animal before preparation. 

Chapter Two: Small Game

Buffalo Hot Legs p.89

With rabbit or squirrel meat: Looking for an old-school appetizer to go with a nice, cold beer? Look no further than Steve’s twist on the legendary Buffalo Wings aptly named Buffalo Hot Legs. The traditional chicken wings that we all know so well have been replaced with two of Steve’s favorite small game hunts, squirrel and/or cottontail rabbit. Steve prefers the squirrel meat as it is “darker and more flavorful.”

Fire Roasted Beaver Tail pp.90-91

In an homage to the mountain men of old who spent their time hunting for beaver pelts in the gravest of conditions, Steve created this novelty appetizer roasted over a wood fire (dry wood from a deciduous tree is recommended). Contrary to popular belief, the tail is mostly fat which was beneficial to these mountain men who were lacking in food options.

Chapter Three: Waterfowl

Skewered and Grilled Duck Hearts and grapes and walnut pesto p.124

“Little firecrackers of meaty flavor” is the way Steve describes this dish, and from the photo, they look to be exactly that. Tea-smoked duck is something you need to try! While you can prepare this at home with gas or in your backyard with charcoal, to get the most realistic experience, Steve recommends an open fire where you can skewer both the hearts and the grapes. Steve remarks, “The experience of having a warm, smoke-flavored grape burst inside your mouth will forever change your impressions of this fruit.” 

Chapter Four: Upland Birds

Duck Jalapeño Poppers with Bacon-Scallion Cream Cheese p.157

For Steve, hunting the game that makes up these Jalapeno Poppers represents the opportunity for socialization and community among him and his fellow hunters. The recipe itself is pretty simple; 12-16 dove breast fillets, or 6-8 quail breast fillets, 12-16 jalapeño chiles from Mexico, some scallions, bacon, and cream cheese, and you’ll be on your way to an adventurous take on a classic snack.

Chapter Five: Freshwater Fish

Salmon Gravlax p.197

If you are looking for a different type of Salmon experience and you’ve got a few days to kill, you’ve come to the right place. Just fish it right out of the water, lay it out on a bed of ice, and you’re ready to get started. Put together a combination of salt, sugar, cumin seeds, chiles, and lime zest, and, of course, a drizzle of tequila over the top. Repeat the process every 24 hours for three days, flipping the salmon over each time, and be ready for a “clean and lively” dish. 

Chapter Six: Saltwater Fish

The Perfect Fried Catfish Sandwich p.207 

Steve shares a wonderful story of how he takes his young kids fishing in the lower Keystone River of Montana every year and that there are few things as satisfying as watching your children enjoying the fact that they caught their very own dinner, although it doesn’t compare to ice fishing in Alaska. The recipe is nothing out of the ordinary, with flour and cornmeal for breading, bacon fat, and sriracha sauce for some kick. The difference lies in the catfish itself, which Steve calls a “forgiving quarry” that is easily hooked, making the experience a “great way to get kids interested in fishing.”

Chapter Seven: Reptiles & Amphibians

Fried Alligator with tartar sauce p.265

In Florida alone, the alligator is beyond abundant, with an estimated 1.3 million roaming the swampy areas that make up the vast sunshine state. Another lesser-known culinary treat, this creepy creature is not unlike many of the generic dishes we fry up. Just marinade in some buttermilk and hot sauce for a few hours, heat some oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees, do the dredging three-step with flour, buttermilk, and cornmeal, and follow this up with a few minutes of frying on each side. Break out the tartar sauce and enjoy your very first fried alligator! 

Chapter Eight: Shellfish & Crustations

Spicy Scallop and Citrus Poke p.286

In Steve’s opinion, often, cooking a shellfish gets in the way of the “wild and free as the ocean” taste of the raw version, which is why he’s included a “poke,” or raw seafood salad, recipe into the mix. This dish covers the full spectrum of savory taste with a bit of spice thanks to the serrano chile, some crunch courtesy of toasted sesame seeds, and of course, a bit of sourness that comes with grapefruit and lime. 

Basic and Not So Basic Sauces, Sides, and Accompaniments

In this “extras” section, Steve provides a wonderful variety of stocks, sauces, brines, game meat cookery, and rubs. He starts off with brown, blond, and fish stock; basic brown gravy (aka “hunter’s sauce”); brine for curing ham, Creole seasoning, and, of course, BBQ rub. Everything is from a basic vinaigrette to the more exotic blueberry port compote. Steve has even added a section on “green” sauces, including both walnut and mint pesto and classic basil pesto. And, of course, any respecting chef needs a few compound butters, so Mr. Rinella has included anchovy butter, cayenne butter, and even chimichurri butter. And what would a cookbook be without some bread recipes? So we have everything from homemade breadcrumbs to basic pie dough, along with cheddar chive biscuits, cornbread, and cathead biscuits. And finally, the “versatile sides,” of which we have polenta, coconut rice, cauliflower puree, and coleslaw.

Final Thoughts

Meat Eater Cookbook

If you are looking for a cookbook in the traditional sense of the term, you’ll not find it here, and that’s perfectly fine. What Steve has done is not just provide recipes for some incredibly exotic fare. He has challenged us to examine our views on hunting as well as what we might consider edible in the first place. What makes this book special is that he accomplishes these things in the most meticulous, and dare I say disarming, way possible. When I began working through The Meateater: Fish and Game Cookbook, it’s not a common small game species, I, like many, I imagine, was initially taken aback by the graphic depictions of the slaughter itself, but as I continued, my anxiety was slowly put at ease by Steve’s precise and comprehensive offerings. Mr. Rinella has found a way to get you to let your guard down by simply making the things that some may find repulsive actually very normal and, at times, even inviting. While I’m sure that it will be primarily hunters and anglers who buy this cookbook, even with techniques for every hunter, I’m hoping that the average chef will give it a gander as well; they may find it as informative and enjoyable as I did.    

More About the Meateater 🍖

As a testimonial to Steve’s character, during a book signing a few years back, he was confronted by a man who was against hunting wild animals like wild hogs from the perspective that “life is sacred” and that Steve should be advocating for the Vegan lifestyle instead. While Steve disagreed with the idea that humans shouldn’t hunt, stating, “Not To hunt is, historically, off the mark,” Steve said that he has always had “admiration for the cohesiveness and clarity of veganism”.

“Hunting and fishing for food can inspire an empowering sense of conservation and food utilization and self-reliance. So many of the processes that support our daily life occur out of sight and, unfortunately, out of mind. It’s refreshing to take responsibility for such an essential function of one’s existence.” Steve Rinella

The first thing you should know about Steve Rinella’s new book, “The Meateater: Fish and Game Cookbook.” is that it’s not for the squeamish at heart. What I mean to say is that this is not just a cookbook with basic recipes accompanied by delicious photos in the traditional sense. It is, as is stated in the subtitle, a cookbook geared towards the “hunter and angler.” From the opening pages, this book is just as focused on the butchering process as it is on preparing recipes. If you are not familiar with Steve’s work, he is a hunter in the purest sense of the word, and he demonstrates that here.

Steve covers every type of game you can think of, regardless of its exotic properties. Big game, small game, waterfowl, upland birds, freshwater fish, saltwater fish encountered, shellfish and crustaceans, and even reptiles and amphibians are all on the menu. There is also an “extras’ section on some basic and not-so-basic sauces, sides, and accompaniments. 

Steve’s comprehensive coverage is broken down in such an expert manner that it is akin to more of a graduate-level textbook than a simple cookbook. Each new chapter offers an introduction followed by “The Nature of the Beast,” which provides an expansive breakdown of the wide variety of games, along with the benefits and drawbacks of what each meat offers. This is followed up with a detailed tutorial on the butchering process (with some very graphic photos). And lastly, we have the recipes.  

Now, if you were expecting to find recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches and traditional beef stew, you would be sorely disappointed. Instead, you will be greeted with instructions for, of all things, Venison Liver MousseMarrow Bones with Celery and Pickled Raisins, and Venison Carpaccio. And to top it off, the delectable Seared Tongue Sandwich. With such unique recipes to kick things off, you know this book is a bit different. 

There is also an attractive section titled “No guts, no glory: Putting Bird Organs to Use,” where Steve details the importance of not ignoring the “Giblets” of waterfowl and upland birds. He goes into detail, breaking down the benefits of the heart, liver, and gizzard; and how their functions affect their texture and taste. For Steve, hunting is about respecting the prey for all that it provides; no part of the animal is wasted. 

Note: In reviewing this book, the thought of our own resistance to the unfamiliar and how we deal with that continued to pop up in my mind. Consider this; why are we comfortable taking our kids to purchase yet another McDonald’s cheeseburger made of ground beef from the flank of the cow, yet we consider it repulsive to eat the tongue of the cow? Steve’s book is as much about challenging our preconceived notions as to what should be edible as it is about providing recipes. 

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Chef Zara is the founder and chief editor for Bakeaholic. She loves bringing smiles to people with the delicious visuals, smells, and tastes of food. Chef Zara's passion for baking started at a very young age, and she has never looked back since. She enjoys experimenting with different flavors and combinations, and takes great pride in creating unique recipes that will tantalize your taste buds. When she’s not whipping up something delectable in the kitchen, Chef Zara can be found exploring new culinary delights around the world. Chef Zara holds a Associate of Arts and Sciences from Kendall College and is a sought after private chef. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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