Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving: Turkey, Wings & Venison

In 1997 we were merrily cooking Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house when the oven failed in the middle of the whole process! Thanks to the kindness of our neighbors we were able to share theirs to get some of our goodies baked up. My dad did a quick internet search (I wonder, was it Netscape? I also remember a search tool called Dogpile that he and I sometimes used). Anyway somehow in that internet frontier he found some instructions on how to cook a turkey on a gas grill. It came out great and  a tradition was born.
All one does is put the turkey like so in a gas grill at 350f. In the roasting pan we use water, chicken stock and coarse chopped onion.  Baste it often until the breast reads 160f and the thigh gives you a read of 180f.

It's Norman Rockwell meets . . . I dunno. But it sure tastes good. We tented it with foil until carving time. Meanwhile the Big Green Egg was patiently waiting at 400f ready for the wings.

We liberally dusted with Dizzy Pig's Swamp Venom.

And set to cooking them directly on a grid raised to the level of the seam.

We tossed them to get a light coating of Papa's BBQ sauce (my kids call my dad, Papa). The sauce also works great on chicken thighs.

After saucing them we grilled them for another 10 minutes and served them up hot. They were a great appetizer. Papa's wings are loved by all in our family and have become a standard pre-Thanksgiving treat in recent years.

Papa's BBQ Sauce:

2 Tbsp. onion chopped
1+ Tbsp butter
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup spicy ketchup
½ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp of honey
Sauté onions in butter until brown. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 15 minutes 

Cousin Hannah, who doesn't really like restaurant wings, loves Papa's.

But wait! There's more. I'm very proud of Papa for more than just his wings. He also happens to be a crackerjack marksman with a crossbow and a conservationist who is serious about the problem with  deer over population in North Carolina. 

Just days before Thanksgiving he shot a doe, which he skinned and then took to a local butcher. They processed the meat. On Thanksgiving we got our first taste of the fresh venison. We cooked up some steaks.

The weight listed on the label is wrong. These two steaks weighed more than 0.06 lbs. They were probably about a pound total, but I don't know and didn't weigh them.

My aunt commented afterwards, "I think it's the seasoning that made them so good." What seasoning, you ask? We sprayed them with olive oil and then lightly dusted them with coarse-ground salt and coarse-ground pepper. That's it.
We seared them at 500f on the Craycort grate I got my dad a couple of years ago.
We flipped them after about 3 minutes and continued to cooke them until we got to 160f inside. Were they good? Oh man yes. Because venison is so incredibly lean they were chewier than your average beef steak, but not by very much. These were delicious. I was expecting some gaminess or a little funk or I don't know what. But these had a very clean and lightly beefy flavor. Nice juiciness too. In fact, my mouth is watering as I type here. (Gulp). I'm fortunate that my dad gave me a freezer full of venison for later use, so I am eager to do this again. Talk about being thankful. My cup runneth over. Thanks for reading.

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