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FishingMobile, with Two Minute Tackle

Backwoods Buffet: Wild game Surf and Turf

The sounds of spring usher in a time of change in the outdoors.  Many hunters turn their attention to long awaited spring bear hunts in hopes of bagging a big bruin.  Other outdoor enthusiasts shift their focus from hunting to fishing with visions of fish dinners floating in their dreams. Some lucky individuals get to experience both spring bear hunting and fishing while on the same excursion. If your menu this spring includes either or both bear and fish, then this issue of the Backwoods Buffet will provide some dishes to expand your culinary choices.

Panfish Chowder:

Anglers who have spent much time on the water have experienced the day when you have caught some nice keepers, but it wasn’t enough to fry for a meal. There’s good chance that releasing your catch after your day of fishing was through was not an option because the keepers were no longer alive. One option would be to clean your catch and freeze it for a later date when you had more filets to add to the meal.  Another possibility is to delight your family and friends with a pot of fish chowder. While any fish will work, panfish seem to be the most likely candidates due to their size and sweet flavor.
  • 6 bacon strips
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dill weed
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 pounds panfish filets, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 ½ cups half and half

Start by frying the bacon until crisp. After the bacon cools, crumble it into small pieces. Keep two tablespoons of the bacon drippings and use to sauté the onions and celery until tender. After the onions and celery are done, add them to the other ingredients, except the fish filets and the half and half. Make sure the filets are clear on any bones.  Add olive oil to a skillet and cook the fish until done. Simmer the vegetables and other ingredients until they are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add the fish and bacon pieces and simmer for another five minutes. Finish off the chowder by adding the cream and allowing it to heat through. The amount of fish filets can be increased or decreased based on the preference of your dining party.  

Salmon Santa Fe:

Don’t let the name fool you; salmon isn’t the only fish that works well with this recipe.  Lake trout, steelhead, northern pike, and even catfish can be substituted with great results. To send your palate into another flavor zone, serve the fish with grilled asparagus and/or roasted Brussel sprouts. Even guests who claim they don’t like the taste of fish will line up for seconds of Salmon Santa Fe.
  • 1 large filet cut into halves, or 3-4 smaller filets cut into halves
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 16 ounces of your favorite commercial mayonnaise
  • 20 ounces of medium, chunky salsa
Double check the filets to be sure most of the bones have been removed. Lay the filets on the bottom of a 10.5 X 14.75 inch baking dish, or one nearly the same size. Season the filets with lemon pepper. Next, slice the onion into ¼ inch thick slices and place them on top of each filet. Cover the onions and filets with approximately ½ inch of the commercial mayonnaise. Layer the salsa on the top of the filets and mayonnaise. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Citrus Baked Yellow Perch:

Spring perch runs were greatly anticipated as a time of celebration in my home state of Michigan. As winter relinquished her icy grip on the Great Lakes, the temperatures rose as did the spirits of most Michiganders. For a few weeks each spring, we would enjoy ample catches of yellow perch. It seems odd to think that we ever tired of fried perch, but eating fried perch meal after meal prompted us to devise other tasty perch recipes. Citrus baked yellow perch is a delicious alternative to the traditional fried filet.
  • 2 pounds yellow perch filets, with the skin left on one side
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash pepper
  •  ¼ cup roasted, diced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped chives
  • lemon wedges
  • parsley

Combine flour, salt, and pepper and then roll the fish filets in the mixture. Place the fish skin side down in a well-greased shallow baking dish. Combine almonds, lemon rind, lemon juice, and olive oil, mix well. Pour this mixture over the fish. Bake in an oven set at 350 degrees F., for 25-30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. When done, sprinkle the chives over the top of the fish.  Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley for visual appeal.

Black Bear Roast with Sauerkraut:

Black bear is a wild game meat that must be treated differently than other types of wild game. It is important to cook bear to well done to avoid trichinosis. This particularly nasty illness is caused by the larvae of a parasitic worm called Trichinella spiralis.  This cooking consideration can scare some wild game eaters away from consuming black bear meat.  If prepared properly, black bear is a delicious addition to anyone’s wild game menu. Cooking a black bear roast in a crock pot allows the chef to monitor the temperature and cooking time of the meat. In general, when cooking black bear in a crock pot, the temperature setting should be high. Expect 1 ½ -2 hours for each pound of roast. I also test the thickest part of the roast; it should show an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. on a meat thermometer. The draw of this dish is the sweet and tangy combination of ingredients that highlight the natural flavor of black bear.
  • 3 pound black bear roast
  • 1 can of cola
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ garlic salt
  • ¼ cup horseradish
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 16 ounces of sauerkraut
Begin by rubbing the roast with the cumin, garlic salt, and horseradish.  Next, place some olive oil in a skillet and brown the roast on all sides.  Place the roast in a crockpot with the can of cola and set on high.  Next, caramelize the diced onion in a skillet.  When the onions are light brown, add them to the sauerkraut. Allow the roast to cook on high for 6 hours, then place the sauerkraut and onion mixture in the crock pot with the roast. Let the concoction cook for another hour on high.  Test the thickest part of the roast to see if it hits 180 degrees F.

Old-Fashioned Black Bear Stew

Nothing sticks to your ribs like a hearty stew, and black bear meat can add a new twist to your traditional stew recipe. Anytime you cook bear it’s important to cook the meat until well done. The stewing process will help to tenderize the well done meat, and it will infuse the flavor of black bear throughout the entire stew.
  • 2 lb. trimmed black bear stew meat
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • flour
  • olive oil
  • 3  15 ounce cans of beef broth
  • 8 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
Soak the stew meat in cold water for one hour, and then drain on paper towel. Season the meat with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Coat the stew meat in flour and cook thoroughly in a skillet until the meat is well done. Drain the fully cooked stew meat on paper towel. Place the stew meat in a crock pot with the beef broth and add the vegetables.  Stir well and cook on low two to three hours, or until the vegetables are tender. 

Photo Credits: BHP Staff

Photo Credits: BHP Staff