Holland is my home, and it's the first place where I ever went on a hunt. At first, I was stunned, but shockingly charmed - my first hunt was a bloodless one, and I fell in love with the life outdoors. Many hunts without a catch followed, one more beautiful than the next. But the Dutch hunts were also where I was first confronted with death. I never knew a hare screams when it's shot, and it's not a happy sound. I cried uncontrollably when the hounds howled at the close of a day where it rained pheasants. I'm still conflicted about many of the things I see, but these hunts have also made it possible for me to come to terms with death in a way, and have made me think about what it means to be a consumer of animal products in today's industrialized society, which I think is a healthy thing for any thinking carnivore.
Read my story about home-butchering for Vice Munchies here.
Butchering can be an intense experience if you've never done it before, but for me it has changed the way I look at meat and all my ingredients completely. If you eat meat, and care about what you eat, I really recommend giving it a try!
breasts and legs of 2 wild ducks, deboned and cubed
1 pound of pork belly—the best quality you can find—cubed
10 feet of pork intestines (natural sausage casing). You’ll have some left over, but this leaves room for error and it costs next to nothing.
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Zest of 3 oranges
15 leaves of sage, chopped
½ bulb of fennel, cubed
1 tablespoon ground, toasted fennel seeds
4 tablespoons salt
Segments of 3 oranges
½ bulb of fennel, thinly shaved
Making your own sausage is a little labor-intensive, but not hard at all, and so fun! You get to determine the ingredients, and the possibilities are endless. For this sausage I added raw fennel bulb, orange zest and sage. Borrow a sausage maker from someone you know, or ask your butcher if they will help you stuff your casings.
I was invited to stay for a deer hunt at a German castle, and they were by far the most beautiful hunting quarters I've ever visited.
With a hunt like this belongs a history of complex etiquette and tradition, and of course a feeling of decadence. Not everyone might feel at home in this environment, and it certainly forms a contrast to American hunts, but I was welcomed with impeccable hospitality, the decoration was second in beauty only to the natural surroundings, and the socks were fancy indeed.
When Vice Magazine asked me to create a game recipe, I worked out the best way to let the delicate flavor and tender texture of hare backstrap speak for itself: eat it raw!
This recipe is a simple translation from the classic steak tartare:
-finely chopped hare backstrap, sesoned with plenty of salt and pepper
-one fresh egg yolk
-finely chopped pickles
-finely chopped red onion
-finely chopped capers