Cooking spices up outdoor experience

Bill Hilts, JrHunting and fishing are a huge part of the outdoor experience for sportsmen. However, it doesn’t have to stop there. Preparing your fish and game can add some flavor (pun intended) to your overall enjoyment and satisfaction, allow you to experiment with how it's prepared and ultimately how it tastes as you complete the cycle.

I love cooking. My favorite type of cooking is on my charcoal grill, followed closely by my smoker. Yes, I’m a charcoal snob and very rarely do I ever use propane for grilling up some venison steaks or fresh salmon from Lake Ontario. There’s nothing quite like a four- or five-pound Coho salmon that was reeled in from 40-degree water and thrown into a cooler just a few hours before.

The whole cooking pastime opens up new doors all the time. When I’m traveling around the country, there isn’t a time when a stop into the local supermarket is in order to check out some local spices or marinades. Some of my favorites include: Executive Chef, a seasoning and tenderizer that I discovered while on an overnight float trip down the Chena River in Alaska – thanks to the local outfitter; Everglade Seasoning, another unique seasoning that showed up in a conversation with my fishing partner for the day, Micky Franklin of Cape Coral, Fla., as we cast around Sanibel Island; and hot and spicy Allegro marinade that’s also a meat tenderizer.

These are only three of over 100 different seasonings and spices that adorn the wall in my kitchen. They serve as an addiction of sorts. There isn’t a piece of red meat that doesn’t have some Executive Chef on it before it hits my grill. The Allegro marinade is great for everything from shrimp and fish to pork and beef.

As I’m writing this, I have a piece of Top Sirloin London Broil that's marinating in a new seasoning – something called Dale's – we found on our most recent trip to Florida that was shared by my daughter-in-law Brandy Brong. Of course, there’s also a little bit of EC to help with flavoring and tenderizing. I’ll be cooking over charcoal, adding some hickory-flavored briquettes for something new. Again, it’s all about trying something a bit different as we fine-tune the process.

Looking for a quick appetizer? Cube up chunks of venison steak or raw shrimp and marinate overnight. Like I said, if you can find Hot and Spicy Allegro, it’s tough to beat. When you're ready to grill, wrap the steak or shrimp with a piece of bacon and add in a slice of jalapeno or some other hot pepper. Secure it all with a toothpick. Cook until the bacon is crispy and you'll have your guests eating out of your hands.

Getting more involved with the cooking process will open up a new world for you. For example, it’s a great conversation topic around the hunting camp or on a fishing boat. It’s also a great form of relaxation after a tough day at the office. Figuring out your next masterpiece on the grill may take some thought. You'll make some new friends as a result of this, and you'll become a much better cook as you learn to mix and match recipes and spices. It’s also a great way to work closely with your spouse. My wife Sandy is fun to cook with and we’re constantly comparing notes and spices. We make a great team!

More importantly, being the cook normally gets you out of other kitchen duties … like doing the dishes. But not all the time. Take the time to enjoy your bounty by learning how to prepare it. One of my greatest satisfactions is to make someone a true believer in eating wild game and have them savor it one bite at a time. It can be quite a challenge. Try it!

Categories: Bloggers on Cooking, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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