Small game harvest provides big taste in the kitchen
Small game hunting is the best way to introduce kids or someone new to hunting and the great outdoors. It is faster paced than deer hunting and you don’t have to sit still like you do for waterfowl hunting.
Putting miles on your boots, small game hunting will make you an overall better hunter because you are likely to find new game trails, bedding areas, scrapes, rubs, or new flooded areas to hunt wood ducks, to name a few. An added bonus of being in the woods during small game season is finding wild mushrooms. Oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms can be found clinging to the same trees that are hiding the small game you’re after.
Rabbit and squirrel meat have a clean mild flavor, can be used in a multitude of dishes, and are great game meat to introduce to the picky eater. So bust out your Dutch oven and take on this dumpling with cornbread twist recipe.
Jalapeno Cornbread Dumplings:
- 1 ¼ Cup Flour
- ¾ Cup Cornmeal
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1/8 Cup Diced Pickled Jalapenos
Shredded Rabbit or Squirrel Meat:
- 2 Rabbits or 6 Squirrels
- 1/8 Cup Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Pepper
- ¼ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Quart Stock (Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable)
Rabbit or Squirrel Soup:
- 2-3 Cups Shredded Rabbit or Squirrel Meat
- 1/8 Cup Flour
- 1/8 Cup Butter
- 1 Cup Red Onion
- 1 Cup Bell Pepper
- ½ Cup Carrot
- ½ Cup Celery
- ½ Cup Fennel
- 6 Cloves Roasted Garlic or 2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
- 1 Quart Stock
- ½ Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 Tablespoons Parsley
- 1 Teaspoon Thyme
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
PREPARATION: (Serves 4)
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- For the dumplings, place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add the melted butter, milk, and diced jalapenos to the flour mixture and whisk until the dumpling batter is smooth.
- Wrap the mixing bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. The mixture will thicken as the flour becomes hydrated.
- For the shredded rabbit meat, quarter the rabbits and season with salt, pepper, cayenne, dried thyme. Sprinkle with flour after it is seasoned.
- Sear the quartered rabbits in the olive oil. Then, pour in the stock and roast in the oven at 325°F for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the rabbit is tender.
- Remove the rabbit from the oven and let cool.
- Reserve the stock for the rabbit and dumplings. Once cool, debone and shred the rabbit meat (2 rabbits or 6 squirrels should yield 2-3 cups of cooked meat).
- For the Rabbit Soup, mince the red onions, bell peppers carrots, celery, fennel, and garlic into 1/8-inch or smaller size pieces. Add the butter and flour to a Dutch oven and stir continuously to make a peanut butter colored roux (8-12 minutes). Add the minced veggies to the Dutch oven and cook until tender and translucent (5-10 minutes) at medium to high heat. (Adding the veggies to the roux will cool down the roux and prevent it from burning.)
- Add the stock, roasted rabbit, parsley, thyme and heavy whipping cream to the Dutch oven. Simmer for 15 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Use a large cookie scoop and drop the dumplings into the Dutch oven making sure they don’t touch. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and place on low heat for 15-20 minutes until the dumplings rise and they’re cooked through.
- Serve piping hot and enjoy.
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