One thing I’ve learned over the years from Scott Leysath is that cooking venison, or almost any wild game for that matter, isn’t as difficult or nerve-wracking as some folks seem to believe.
By Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor
Leysath lives in California but don’t let that throw you off. He’s a diehard hunter and angler, loves the outdoors – when he’s not whipping up something in the kitchen or on a Camp Chef stove in the field – and is a great chef. I’ve known him for about 15 years, give or take a hunting season, and always enjoy visiting with him.
Our first meeting was at a hunting lodge here in Alabama one autumn. He was in town visiting mutual friends, Kate and Donny McElvoy, who had a popular and successful television show. They were filming a spot at the lodge for a waterfowl organization shindig and that’s where I learned the first of many cooking tips from Leysath.
To illustrate for the camera the need to cook lean wild game over medium-high heat, he’d prepared two sheet pans of bite-sized, marinated waterfowl breasts. I forget the other topping or two he had on them – maybe some bleu cheese or something. One pan was cooked perfectly, just four or five minutes, and the other smaller one with four or five servings was left in for another three or four minutes.
As expected, the first pan removed on time was perfect. The meat was a smidge rare on the inside, still moist, and delicious. The second pan was like trying to bite through a strip of dried-out liver. It was dry, nasty and after showing both for the camera, along with the “Blech! That’s gross!” reactions, went into the trash can.
Since then, I’ve seen Leysath in action at several events. He visits my hometown regularly to film his and McElvoy’s popular show, HuntFishCook, and also does other special events for groups. He’s also often found at the annual SHOT Show in some of his sponsor booths whipping up venison, boar, elk, rattlesnake-rabbit sausage and other tasty tidbits. Additions usually include cream, mushrooms, soy, teriyaki, wasabi, a few simple spices, and fruit such as peaches, blueberries, raspberries, orange marmalade and other add-ins.
I’ve always remembered that first lesson and he’s keen on telling anyone who asks: “Don’t overcook it.” Just an extra minute or two can be the difference in everyone enjoying a dish and wanting more, or politely reaching for more carrots and dip.
Leysath has a new cookbook out that’s going to be a winner. The Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook is 176 pages jammed with tips, tactics, suggestions and more to help make your venison dishes sizzle. The 12 chapters feature 24 color illustrations for field care, storage, different cuts of venison, drying, trimming, slicing and getting the most out of your venison.
Here’s another tip I’ve learned: Don’t fret about losing a little venison when you’re trimming away the silver skin around a roast or other piece of meat. That thin outer covering, during cooking, will shrink and toughen up. You’ll be left gnawing instead of enjoying. Trim away, don’t worry about losing a little bit of meat and you’ll have better venison. Besides, in most states you can whack another doe or two for the freezer and get some more meat.
Leysath’s book also covers different cooking methods including grilling, smoking, soups, stews, whole cuts in the oven and more.Twelve chapters covering various methods of venison preparation, including soups and stews, whole cuts in the oven, grilling and smoking.
With deer seasons open and Christmas approaching this will make a fantastic addition to your family’s kitchen or camphouse, or for a friend or family. Buy it here at ShopDeerHunting.com now!