How to Select a Spice Set for Your Favorite Wild-game Chef
Having a selection of spices, rubs, and other ingredients can help anyone prepare a meal that tastes like nothing else.
Participating in hunting and fishing is a personal evolution for any outdoorsman. But wherever one’s sporting motivation originates it eventually reaches the culinary stage, in which the “to the table” part of the process is equally or more important than the “from the field” part. Improving your skills in the kitchen is the best way to invite others into your personal sporting journey. For that, you need an array of basic spices and an understanding of how to pair it all with the most common game dishes. Here are a few tips to get you started.
No matter what herbs and spices you decide to add, salt and pepper are still the two main ingredients that draw out the inherent flavor of any dish. One of the best seasonings you can add to properly aged venison loin is nothing more than a light coat of extra-virgin olive oil followed by a liberal rubdown with Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Grill medium rare, let rest for five to ten minutes under loose foil, and you may never add another ingredient to your grilled backstrap again.
Recipes are essential for learning the basics of building flavors, but the best cooks are scratch cooks—those who possess that learned ability to grab just about anything from the fridge and spice rack and compose a delicious meal without relying on sheet music. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and improvise. Review a recipe (or several) and then improve on them at your pleasure.
You can put parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme into a boiling pot of old boots, and it will taste, well, better than a pot of plain old boots. The point is, classic herbs and spices that we’ve all heard of should be the first thing you reach for when in doubt about what to add to any roast, stew, or marinade. Oregano, basil, paprika, cayenne, and crushed red pepper all fall into the category of usual suspects. Limit the combinations at first to develop a palate for how each interacts with and complements the other. Then add a bay leaf, and maybe a pinch more salt.