Scott says that he is excited about the return of “Dead Meat” and the ability to showcase peculiar cuisine. Scott talks about heading to Hawaii to hunt wild cows and hogs. Hunting a wild cow isn’t easy as they are very skittish and disappear much like deer and elk when they catch wind or sight of a human. While many may assume that a cow is a cow and they all taste like domestic beef, he says these feral Pacific bovines don’t taste anything like a steak you’ll pick up at the butcher. Because they spend all their time running and foraging for anything they can find, they are very lean. Backstrap is the prime cut of almost any big game animal for its tenderness, however Scott says that because the fat content is so low even the backstrap is a very marginal cut. As a result, these feral cows are best turned into stew meat. On the flip side, he experienced some incredible Hawaiian hog hunting where the pigs had plush fat reserves thanks to their diet of macadamia nuts. Scott says those who hunt feral hogs for meat will generally take a small sow over a large boar any day, however, even the large boars were delicious with pure bright white fat that was so good he used it to make sausage.
There are a lot of strange, yet surprisingly delicious things he has come across while making “Dead Meat”, one being Asian Carp. He went bowfishing for these flying carp with former Obama administration official Austan Goolsbee. They took their catch to Dirk’s Fish Gourmet Shop in Chicago where they were skinned, but the bones and bloodline were left in and then they were ground whole. Although strange to leave bones and all in the fish, Scott says the result was incredible. The ground Asian Carp mixture was then prepared into a carp cake and served with sauce. Because of the invasion of carp in waters across the country continues to be a problem, Scott says eating them is a good way to meet the problem head on.
For those that are wanting to learn more about how to process and prepare their traditional wild game animals, like deer, Scott offers his insight. So many people retrieve the tenderloins and backstraps and then grind the rest of their deer. Ground venison is delicious, but Scott says that grinding the majority of your animal is a mistake. There are other parts of a deer that are just as delicious as backstrap if handled correctly. Neck roasts can be cooked low and slow, browned, and braised where the final result is big chunks of tender delicious meat that falls right off the bone. The shoulders can be treated the same way. There is no need to take your knife to the shoulder to break it down, Scott says. Instead, let low and slow heat do the work for you and it will fall off the bone in perfect form for tacos, stew or any other application where pot roast style meat is used. The bones can then be used to make stock. As for the hindquarter, Scott says when the silver skin is removed, and the meat cooked to medium rare and sliced across the grain it can be every bit as tender as backstrap. As hunters, part of our responsibility is to harvest as much meat from a carcass as possible. Scott says that there is a lot of great meat that can be found in ribs that are often left behind. The same can be said for shanks. Too many people leave the shanks behind without realizing they are delicious braised. Most hunters aren’t trying to be wasteful, Scott notes, they just don’t know how good the shanks and neck meat are, they don’t realize that stock can be made from the bones, they just don’t know how to handle many of the different edible parts. Educating yourself as a hunter is important so that you are able to get the most of every animal you kill, and also so you understand how to prepare each and every cut to reach its true table fare potential.
Be sure to listen in as Scott Leysath, The Sporting Chef, stops by to talk “Dead Meat”, making the most of your wild game harvests, the do’s and don’ts of grinding wild game, and why you should stop cutting up your backstrap into medallions.
Season 2 of “Dead Meat” premieres on Sportsman Channel November 2nd at 2pm ET and can be seen every Saturday at 2 pm ET. Make sure to catch this fun and intriguing look at catching, killing and eating wild and exotic cuisine.