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Cooks’ Exchange: Recipe for deer hunters

November 14, 2018

Although November in Wisconsin may prompt thoughts of chilly temperatures, leaf raking, hearty soups, chowders and stews, cranberries, and favorite old-fashion turkey stuffing recipes for Thanksgiving feasts, for the hunter, the 17th of the month is the opening of Wisconsin’s traditional gun deer hunting season.

So it was no surprise that Carol Rohde, my longtime neighbor, who brought over two cups of freshly picked cranberries, mentioned that her deer hunting husband, Roger, and their deer hunting sons, Scott and Steven, wondered if I happened to have a venison meatloaf recipe.

Being a Wisconsin fisher-woman, I had answers for anything to do with hooks, lines and sinkers and recipes preparing my catch of the day, but had to rely on a cookbook purchased last year following a meatloaf column that touched the hearts of many readers. The book, “A Meatloaf in Every Oven,” written and published in 2017 by Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer, had a surprise waiting for me on page 208 with a venison meatloaf recipe shared by Speaker of the House, Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan.

Within minutes, I would learn that Ryan is an avid hunter who grows a beard during deer hunting season and “talks endlessly about his wilderness escapades involving bows and arrows.” Ryan also grinds his own meat using a power grinder during hunting season and takes great pleasure in making venison meatloaf for his family to enjoy.

Because Ryan’s recipe is described as being very traditional due to some of its ingredients, we are reminded that venison is lean and the ground beef added should not be lean. Ground beef seems to “mellow the gaminess” of the finished product along with the last suggestion “not to skimp on the ketchup.”

Paul Ryan’s venison meatloaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium size onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground venison

½ pound fatty ground beef, preferably not more than 70 percent lean

1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets onion soup mix

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup Progresso Italian-style bread crumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, or use a nonstick loaf pan. Warm the oil in a medium-sized skillet over low heat, add the onions and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Combine meats, onion soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, and egg in a large bowl and mix gently with your clean hands until combined. Add cooled onions and knead them into the mixture until just incorporated. Form the mixture into a loaf in the prepared baking pan, or gently press it into the loaf pan, and glaze the top with ketchup. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, about 65 minutes. Let the loaf rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 6

Using the two cups of freshly picked cranberries Carol had kindly shared, plus having leftover orange juice on hand, I made a delicious cranberry bread recipe featured in Carol Frieberg’s 1994 “Breakfast in Bed Cookbook.” This recipe is from the White Sulphur Springs Ranch in Clio, California and was featured along with many other B&B recipes through northern California and British Columbia.

Cranberry bread

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg

1 cup sugar

¾ cup orange juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups whole fresh cranberries

½ cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine butter, egg, and sugar; mix well. Add orange juice, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir just until moistened. Fold in whole cranberries and nuts. Bake in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan for 60-70 minutes, until bread tests done. Makes one loaf.

Note: I used four prepared 5x3-inch loaf pans and baked them for 30 minutes or until testing done.

Surprises never cease. Barbara Vogel wrote last month about a sugar cookie recipe her mother used to make back in the 1960s that supposedly was copied from the newspaper as being used in a jail. The family always referred to them as “jailhouse sugar cookies.” Shortly after her request appeared here, the recipe arrived from a Cooks.com recipe search and I hope it is exactly what Vogel remembers with fondness.

Jail house sugar cookies

1 cup soft butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup oil

2 large beaten eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla or almond or maple extract

4 ¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

In mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, powdered sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla or other extract.

Add flour, salt, cream of tartar, soda and mix well. With a small ice cream scoop, put on a pan 3 by 6. Press them down with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Note: With almond extract, add 1 cup sliced almonds to make almond cookies; with maple extract and maple cookies, add walnuts or chopped peanuts; for vanilla cookies, add M&M’s for extra flavor.

During a recent conversation, the name John Roussos was mentioned as were his eating establishments here in Madison and the delicious New Orleans touch that kept his business flourishing for many years until recently when he closed shop and left town. During the conversation, his bread pudding recipe was remembered as being a favorite and I offered to share the recipe that appears in the 1991 “Orange Tree Imports Cookbook” edited by owner Carol “Orange” Schroeder whose award winning shop, founded in 1975, continues to be one of Madison’s valuable Monroe Street gems. I called “Orange” to ask if the book was still available and, unfortunately, it isn’t, but here is the John Roussos recipe from my own treasured Orange Tree cookbook.

Bread pudding

3 ¾ cups milk

5 eggs, beaten

2 cups sugar

1 cup raisins

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

1 loaf stale French bread, about 7-8 cups, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking pan. Mix all other ingredients and pour over bread. Stir and pour into buttered pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. May be served with whiskey sauce, hard sauce or Chantilly cream.

Optional ingredients may be added to bread pudding such as nuts, fruits, chocolate chips, or whatever else you might like.

Serves 8-12

Here is one more “lean” soup recipe for State Journal editor John Smalley. Finding easy and nutritious soups devoid of too many calories isn’t easy, but this has only 72 calories per portion.

Cream of chicken and mushroom soup

2 cups water

2 cups skim milk

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1 small garlic clove, whole

1 sprig fresh dill, or 1/8 teaspoon dried

½ cup minced celery

¼ cup minced onion

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon paprika

4 large mushroom caps, sliced thin

4 sprigs of parsley

In a kettle over medium heat, bring all the ingredients except mushroom slices and parsley sprigs to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until soup thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove garlic clove, stir in mushroom slices and turn off heat. Soup can be made hours or a day ahead. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley sprigs.

— “A Feast of Soups: American and International Recipes For All Seasons and For All Occasions,” by Jacqueline Heriteau

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