The Piglet

Piglet Community Pick: Afield

By • February 18, 2013 • 15 Comments

Read up on some of 2012's most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.   

Today: Aargersi delves into the hunting-driven recipes from Afield.

Afield

Afield is more than a cookbook. Jody Horton’s photography qualifies it as a coffee table book (who ever thought that pictures of just-shot birds or dressing feral hog could achieve that?). It is a hunting guide -- Griffiths walks us through cleaning and disassembling all manner of game and fish. It is, too, a book of essays -- each chapter (divided into types of game) opens with a description of the hunt, giving the feeling of being right there alongside Mr. Griffiths. And it is, of course, a cookbook.

One need not be hunter to use this book. If you're lucky, as I am, to have hunters in the family, then mooching works nicely. Otherwise, you can source local game at the farmers' market or butcher, or you can substitute meat, birds and fish found at your local grocery in many of the recipes.

I started with a simple recipe: grilled venison loin with horseradish cream. Simple in construction but complex in flavor, the herbs paired perfectly with the slightly gamey venison, and the horseradish cream added bite and richness. The dish is elegant enough for dinner party but also weeknight easy.

To test this book, my family and I had Game Night -- cooking, not Monopoly. We ate venison chili, venison breakfast sausage and wild boar chorizo (these froze beautifully), wild boar carnitas, and Bad Day Dove Risotto. In all cases the recipes were approachable, delicious, and worth making again. We pulled back on the salt for the sausages, and because it was a good day, we added a bit of extra dove to the risotto. 

My friend Molly helped me with the next test, fish soup. I bought the fish at the grocery, since I had no time to run to the coast and wet a line. (Ask your fishmonger to save some bones for the stock in case he or she doesn’t have the right whole fish that day.) The soup was rich but light -- a perfect weeknight meal served with a salad and toasted bread. As a matter of personal preference, we reduced the amount of garlic called for in the aioli from twelve cloves to three. We also found the whisking to be a two-women job, but then again, that could've been the wine talking. Perhaps earlier in the day it could have been accomplished alone, with determination and a strong arm.

I gifted this book to the hunters in my family, as did my neighbor. Reporting in: Afield's venison burgers got six thumbs up from my niece’s family, and the turkey cutlets were a hit at the neighbors'. (They kindly brought me a sample.) The mushroom gravy served alongside was a perfect, earthy complement to the crisp turkey breast.

I look forward to more cooking with Afield -- rabbit and duck need my attention, and I intend further investigation of the seafood and meat sections.  Who knows, maybe I will even try my hand at squirrel!

Jump to Comments (15)

Tags: piglet, community picks, cookbook

Comments (15)

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over 1 year ago Bevi

Abbie, have you read the article by John McPhee titled "Travels to Georgia"? McPhee spends time with a naturalist who feeds herself in the wilds of Georgia, and cooks DOR animals that she stores in an ice chest that she stows in her pickup truck. Your review reminded me of this essay, which I think you would really enjoy

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over 1 year ago J David B

Can't wait to get my hands on this book. The NY Times ran an article and a recipe for smothered pork chops that was so very, very good and nailed my decision to order the book.

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over 1 year ago mariaraynal

Great review, Abbie! I felt like I was right there with you, and am impressed, as always, by your courage and adventurous spirit in the kitchen. Fabulous.

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over 1 year ago LLStone

What a terrific review! You are a girl after my own heart - can't wait to look through the cookbook! Nicely done.

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over 1 year ago Lynne Faubert

I don't know if there's a recipe in there, but my husband swears by what is called grass cutters in Africa, a close relative of the groundhog — or so he tells me with profound sorrow every time we cross illegal-to-pick road kill. But, ahem, that's a complete other chapter, lol.

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over 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Great review, a! You are so versatile!

Mrs._larkin_370

over 1 year ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

awesome review, aargersi. can't wait to peruse this book!

Henrykiss

over 1 year ago arielleclementine

Fantastic! I'm in awe of your meat prowess! Gonna have to get this book.

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over 1 year ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hey i THINK if you go to the downtown Farmer's Market you night be able to get a signed copy ... not 100% positive but I think that is true

Chris_in_oslo

over 1 year ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I've been looking forward to this review ever since you signed up for it! Great job.

Sausage2

over 1 year ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

A, you are absurdly awesome! Love it.

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

You are so adventurous aargersi, great review of what I would consider a difficult cookbook to test. Did the hunters in your family bring you the deer? The dishes sound great!

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over 1 year ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

They brought everything! Deer, hog, dove, then the neighbor bagged a turkey and my youngest hunting nephew has a couple of ducks on ice for me. We had a great time with this book!

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Amazing!! I have never experienced that before and am in awe that you took it on. How wonderful it must have been.

Gator_cake

over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Great review! I didn't imagine I'd be interested in this book, but you make it sound approachable and delectable. BTW -- one of my uncles really loves squirrel, so don't be afraid to give it a try!