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Wild Game Cooking

Birch Bolete – How to Identify, Harvest and Cook Birch Boletes

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How to identify, harvest and cook the birch bolete, Leccinum scabrum. Birch boletes are edible, but are best dried first. They make a fantastic, homemade cream of mushroom soup, are great in stews and sauces.

I am not a porcini snob. Many of my fellow mushroom hunters are, and they spurn the birch bolete. Too bad for them. The flavor of the birch bolete is wonderfully mushroomy, in that warm, savory, wintry way.

But the porcini snobs do have a point: Unless you get birch boletes that are very young, and free of worms, the flesh can be punky and soft because these mushroom absorb water like nobody’s business.

What’s a hungry mushroomer to do? Dry your birch boletes first. More on all this in a moment.

What follows below are tips on how to identify, harvest, prep, store and eat birch boletes.

A mature birch bolete in Minnesota.

Identifying Birch Boletes

For starters, they live near birch trees. Duh. If you don’t know how to identify a birch tree, start with this primer. There are lots of kinds of birch trees.

And there are lots of kinds of birch boletes. “Birch bolete” is a term of art we use to identify a complex of species, all in the leccinum clan. Biologists tend to be lumpers and splitters, meaning they either want to lump all the variants into L. scabrum, or the splitters want to make them their own species.

I’m not getting into that argument, because I don’t, and you don’t, have to: All birch boletes are edible.

  • All are associated with birch trees. The cap colors all range from ivory to a warm gray to tan to brown. Not orange! That’s a different leccinum, and a story for another day.
  • All have white, tight pores under the cap, not gills. The pores age to a dingy, dishwater brownish color.
  • The stem can be thin or fat, straight or curved. It will always have “five o’clock shadow,” the salt-and-pepper markings that are called scabers. It will always be fibrous.
  • Alas, they are often very buggy because birch boletes are a summer-to-fall mushroom. I’ve seen them as early as June, and as late as November where birches are native.
  • Also, birch boletes generally do not stain blue, although once in a while I’ve seen the very base of the stem stain a greenish-blue. But only the base, never the cap.

Pro tip: Don’t live where birches do? Cruise around for planted birch trees, which are used a lot in landscaping. I had a reliable birch bolete spot in my friend Elise’s front yard in Sacramento, where they didn’t fruit until January.

Older birch boletes, showing the white pores.

How to Harvest

Start by finding a grove of birch trees in late summer or early fall. The mushrooms will fruit in waves, so if you miss one, another will show up later, so long as it’s before the freeze and you get rain.

This is not normally an issue, because birches tend to live in wet places. But, given that, many a birch bolete will be soggy. With many boletes, this means they are buggy. And your birch bolete may well be, but I’ve found even large ones that really need drying to be bug free — and tiny, fresh ones that are buggy as hell.

The cap tends to break off the stem a lot. Either be OK with this — you are likely drying most if not all your birch boletes, so no biggie — or carry a big basket so they have room.

I slice the mushroom off at the base. This immediately tells you if your birchie is buggy or not, because the teeny worms start in the stalk and work their way up to the cap.

Gather in a basket or mesh or paper bag. Not plastic. The mushrooms will get melty and disgusting. Ask me how I know…

On Bugs: A few worms are OK, because when you dry them, the worms flee the mushroom. Totally riddled shrooms are, well, no good. At least to me.

Young birch bolete in Alaska.

Prepping Birch Boletes

Once home, I like to separate my birch boletes. In one, usually small, pile will be the very young, tight and firm birchies. These and only these can be cooked fresh. They are nice, meaty, and savory — although like all leccinum mushrooms, birch boletes darken almost to black when cooked.

Most of your mushrooms will be dried.

I start by slicing off the stem, then slicing that stem in half lengthwise. You’ll see how buggy it is immediately. If it’s decent — a few bugs are fine (more in a moment) — slice again crosswise. Remember the stem of a birch bolete is fibrous.

Slice the cap in half. In older mushrooms, pull off the spongey pores. Dry them separately. I really, really like to powder the pores to make a birch bolete version of my porcini powder. It has endless uses, mostly to add umami savoriness to pretty much whatever you can think of.

Cut the cap in maybe 1/4 inch slices and dry. Birch boletes, and all leccinums, should be dried relatively cool, like 100F or so. The higher the temperature, the darker they will get. This is only aesthetic, it doesn’t affect edibility. Dry until crispy and store in a Ziploc bag.

Pro tip: Add a silicone dessicant packet, especially if you live in a humid area.

Brown birch bolete in Alaska.

Cooking Birch Boletes

This is why you are likely here, so here we go. Cooking a birch bolete usually means rehydrating them, then using the mushrooms in soups, stews, as a ravioli filling, inside a burrito, pasta sauce, inside pierogi or somesuch.

They are a northern mushroom, so I like to use them in northern cuisines, like Scandinavian, Russian or other Eastern European, or in cold regions of Asia, like Korea or Manchuria or Hokkaido in Japan. If you’re into Nepali food, birch boletes are found in the Himalayas, so give that a go.

Note: This should go without saying, but birch boletes must be thoroughly cooked to be edible.

Here are some great recipes that will all work with rehydrated birch boletes.

mushroom bisque recipe

Wild Mushroom Bisque

This is my go-to recipe for birch boletes. They make a phenomenal, homemade “cream of mushroom soup.” So good you’ll want to gather lots of birchies in fall.

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Porcini powder in a mortar and pestle.

Birch Bolete Powder

I normally do this with porcini, but grinding dried birch boletes for this powder is amazing. It adds flavor to almost anything you can think of.

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Two lihapiirakka, Finnish meat pies, on a plate with one broken open.

Lihapiirakka, Finnish Meat Pies

Adding rehydrated, chopped and sauteed mushrooms to these Finnish meat pies is a most excellent idea.

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Close up of mushroom spinach frittata in a cast iron pan on a table.

Mushroom Spinach Frittata

Birch boletes for brunch? Hell to the yeah…

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Cooked mushroom pierogi on a plate.

Mushroom Pierogi

Maybe the best recipe for birch boletes that isn’t mushroom bisque…

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Creamy mushrooms in a bowl with toast alongside.

Creamy Mushrooms on Toast

This is a great recipe for rehydrated birch boletes, or if you run into a mess of nice, clean young fresh ones.

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Venison with a French mushroom sauce on a plate

Mushroom Sauce for Steak

Works fantastic with birch boletes, as well as most mushrooms…

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A plate of mushroom tortellini

Mushroom Tortellini

While I like this recipe with morels or porcini, you could use any wild or cultivated mushroom for these tortellini. Use the same mushroom for the final dish that you use in the pasta filling. Once the pasta is made, this dish comes together very quickly.

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Pike dumplings recipe

Pike Quenelles (Dumplings) in Broth

The combination of a northern fish with a northern mushroom is a natural, so using birch boletes for the broth of this recipe is a winner.

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Pheasant with mushrooms, cream and greens in a pot.

Pheasant with Mushrooms

Rehydrated birch boletes are excellent with this recipe — make it even more Northwoods by using ruffed or spruce grouse!

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Source link: https://honest-food.net/birch-bolete-edible/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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Wild Game Cooking

Venison Enchiladas – Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

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Classic venison enchiladas are easy to make, delicious and are fantastic as leftovers. What’s more, you have plenty of option for the filling.

If you have ever traveled in Mexico, you know there are a zillion varieties of enchiladas depending on where you go. These venison enchiladas are pretty standard Northern Mexico and Texas-style enchiladas, which is to say shredded or ground meat, rolled corn tortillas and lots of cheese.

Plus, these are baked, and not all enchiladas are. The net effect is more or less a Mexican casserole, although not so casserole-y as pastel azteca, which is essentially a Mexican lasagna.

I’ll walk you through the process, which involves making the sauce and filling, and then constructing the enchiladas.

Making the Filling

OK, so let me start by noting that you can fill venison enchiladas in a variety of ways. This recipe uses a very simple, picadillo-like mixture with ground venison, but you have options.

Enchiladas have always been a great option for leftover meats, so get creative! A few especially good fillings would be:

  • Actual Mexican picadillo, which is basically really good “taco meat.” There are various kinds of picadillo, but I prefer the Sonoran version, which is not sweet.
  • Leftover venison barbacoa. Using the shredded meat in venison enchiladas is a great use for it.
  • If you’ve made venison tacos with backstrap or steaks, dice any leftovers small and use that as a filling.

One thing I like to add to the filling is queso fresco, a fresh farm cheese widely available in supermarkets. It’s not a melty cheese, so it plays well with whatever filling you choose.

Making the Sauce

I’ll be the first person to say that yes, you can use canned enchilada sauce — if you have one you really like. If you live in Texas or the desert Southwest, there are lots of good ones.

That said, I make a simple red enchilada sauce from a puree of ancho, chipotle and either guajillo or New Mexican dried chiles, a touch of tomato paste, onion and garlic, all thinned out with broth.

This sauce keeps for weeks in the fridge, so you can use it as a salsa later, or for more venison enchiladas or for the filling in venison tamales.

Building Venison Enchiladas

The general instructions for building standard, rolled enchiladas are to either briefly fry the corn tortillas in oil, or reheat them on a comal or flattop, then paint or dip in the sauce, fill, roll, arrange in a dish, top with cheese and bake.

I find that briefly frying the tortillas in oil helps them hold up a little better than if you just reheat them to make them supple. And let’s face it, fat equals flavor, so it adds a li’l sumthin.

Building venison enchiladas is messy, so do it near the sink. I find just going for it with your hands is the best option. Having sauce-spattered hands also keeps you focused, so you won’t be tempted to look at your phone midstream.

As for the cheese topping, ideally you’d top venison enchiladas with hand-shredded queso asadero, queso quesadilla or queso chihuahua. They’re all real-deal Mexican melty cheeses. But you can certainly use pre-shredded “Mexican blend,” if you want, or if you want to lean Tex-Mex, go for classic longhorn cheese.

A dish of venison enchiladas, with two taken out.

Serving and Storing

I will often serve venison enchiladas solo, maybe with a crunchy salad alongside. Nopales salad is a great choice here. You can of course make them part of a larger Mexican feast with maybe a soup like pozole, stuffed jalapenos and, if you’re a hunter, maybe some guajillo smoked doves or fried quail to dig into.

Leftover venison enchiladas keep for a week in the fridge, and they freeze well in the dish.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

SAUCE

  • To make the sauce, boil the seeded and destemmed ancho and guajillo chiles for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let them soak. Heat a cast iron pan or comal on medium-high heat and lay down the pieces of onion and garlic. You want to blacken the onion on both cut sides, and get some char on the garlic peel. This process takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the onion and garlic to a cutting board. Peel the garlic.

  • Put the garlic and soaked chiles into a blender. Roughly chop the onion and add that, too. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients, including about 1 teaspoon of the salt. Puree, adding chicken broth as needed, to make a pourable sauce. In some cases, you’ll need to add some water, too. Taste and add salt if needed.

  • OPTIONAL STEP: I always do this, because it results in a smoother sauce that removes bits of seed and skin, which are undigestible. Push the sauce through a fine strainer with a rubber spatula into a bowl. Set aside.

FILLING

  • To make the filling, heat the lard or oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the chopped onion and the venison and brown well. This takes about 8 minutes or so, and stir the meat occasionally. When it’s mostly browned, add the garlic and oregano and cook a minute or two more. Turn off the heat.

  • Mix in a ladle or two of the sauce, using it and a wooden spoon to scrape off any browned bits stuck to the pan. Once this cools, add the queso fresco and mix well.

TO FINISH

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour some oil in a frying pan, enough to float tortillas, and heat the pan over medium-high heat. Get paper towels or a kitchen towel ready. When the oil is shimmering, fry one tortilla at a time in the oil, flipping once or twice, for only a few seconds – you want to see them puff up. They should be very flexible. Do this for all the tortillas, setting them on the towel.

  • Spread a little sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.

  • Set up a station where you can dip a tortilla into the sauce (or paint sauce on both sides of each tortilla with with your fingers or a brush), then grab a bit of the filling (maybe 2 to 3 tablespoons) and roll up the enchiladas. Set each one, seam side down, into the casserole. Fill the dish snugly.

  • Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes.

You can use canned enchilada sauce if you want, especially if you have a favorite. 
For cheese, I shred queso asadero or queso Chihuahua, but you can use pre-shredded cheese like the “Mexican blend” in supermarkets. 
 

Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 751mg | Potassium: 1368mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 9500IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 465mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: https://honest-food.net/venison-enchiladas-recipe/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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Wild Game Cooking

BBQ Turkey Legs Recipe – Barbecued Wild Turkey Thighs

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Slow smoked BBQ turkey legs are a great way to eat that part of the bird, whether it’s a wild turkey or farmed. Here’s how to go about getting the most out of these underrated cuts.

Mostly when I talk about BBQ turkey legs I am referring to the thighs, but the drumsticks benefit from this process, too.

The reason is because the thighs only have the one bone in them, and none of those crazy tendons and ligaments that the drumsticks have — and those will never break down, especially on the barbecue.

What follows here are tips and tricks on cooking better BBQ turkey legs, and on how to use them.

First, separate them. Cut the drumstick from the thigh. This will matter a lot in the final product, because generally speaking, you will sit down to eat the thighs, but use the drumsticks in another recipe where they are slow simmer until the meat falls off the bone.

Doing this gets around those nasty ligaments. More on this in a moment.

Brine Thy Bird

It’s important to brine your BBQ turkey legs because this will keep them juicier as they cook. Because you’ll likely cook the drumsticks a second time in a soup or somesuch, it’s less important for them. But it’s vital with the thighs.

My normal brine is 1/4 cup kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal), to 1 quart of water. Dissolve the salt in the water and submerge the thighs (and legs if you want) in the brine in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to cook, just rins and pat dry.

BBQ turkey legs on the grill.

BBQ Turkey Legs Slowly

Slow is key here. You want your smoker or grill cool, like 200F to 225F. It will take time, so do this on a day off or a weekend. I’ve had old gobblers take 6 hours to get tender.

Here’s the thing: You can go one of two routes. You can cook your bbq turkey legs just until they’re done, with an internal temperature of about 160F, or you can fully barbecue them like a pork shoulder, which will take the meat close to 200F.

I choose the first route with jakes and farmed birds, the second with old toms.

For the drumsticks, if you want to actually eat them right off the barbecue, you will need to go the long, slow route, and you’ll still have to eat around the tendons and such.

Smoke and Gear

I do a lot of smoking on a Traeger, but any grill or smoker that will hold low temperatures is fine. If you’re using a gas grill, fire up one element and cook the turkey legs on the other side, grill cover down.

Soaking some wood chips, then setting them on an open piece of foil directly over the gas element will give you a bit of smoke flavor on a gas or charcoal grill.

Wood choice is up to you. I really like oak, maple, hickory or fruit woods. But it also depends on your sauce. In the maple bourbon sauce below, any of the aforementioned woods would be great. But in the picture above, I used a Chinese char siu sauce, and in that case oak is my preferred choice.

If you are going with a Southwest or Mexican sauce, mesquite is the way to go.

About those Drumsticks

Chances are you’ll have super tough drumsticks. That’s OK if you plan for it. Eat the thighs at dinner, then the next morning, use the drumsticks to make any of these recipes, where you simmer the drums slow and low in water or broth

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

  • If you are brining your turkey legs, dissolve the salt in the water and submerge the turkey in this overnight, or at least 4 hours. Rinse and pat dry.

  • Get your grill ready as described above. Coat the turkey thighs in the vegetable oil. Lay them skin side up on the cooler side of of the grill. Cover and cook until the meat reaches about 160°F, flipping every 30 minutes or so to paint with the maple-bourbon BBQ sauce. For the first 30 minutes, let the turkey cook without the sauce while you make it.

  • Once the turkey is on the grill, make the sauce by sauteing the grated onion in the butter for a few minutes. You don’t want the onion to brown, but you do want it to cook enough to lose that raw onion smell and flavor. This should take 5 minutes or so on medium heat.

  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Boil this down by 1/3. Adjust for heat and salt. If you want, puree the sauce in the blender. I prefer to puree my sauce because it will be thicker that way. Return it to the stove top over very low heat. Stir from time to time.

  • When the turkey is done, shift it to the hot side of the grill, skin side down, for a few minutes to caramelize the sauce. Paint with a little more BBQ sauce right when you serve.

Wood choice is up to you, but oak and fruit woods are perfect here. Only use mesquite if you’re using a Mexican or Southwest style sauce. 

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: https://honest-food.net/bbq-turkey-legs-recipe/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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