One of my favorite events that I do as a chef is my annual GameFeed. (That’s “game” as in wild game: venison, etc.; not as in Monopoly.) This September social occasion started many years ago as a way to celebrate the end of summer, have a great excuse to cook way too much food, party with many friends and relatives, and to ultimately use up meat with the anticipation of more to come with an imminent successful hunt. I used to arrive back home in Viroqua, Wisconsin after a summer of teaching back-to-back children’s summer cooking camps and loads of adult cooking classes in DC a couple of days before the party and start cooking. I would throw together dishes on the fly with what people dropped off, what I had thawed, tidbits I brought back with me from DC, and what I picked up at roadside farm stands and the Viroqua Farmer’s Market. We even used to have a golf outing on the morning of the GameFeed. I don’t know how I ever did that.
Now the GameFeed seems to have become a bit epic and we hold it at our home in Madison. It is still a private event, my chance to celebrate doing what I love with people I care about. I have such a great group of friends–neighbors, relatives and folks who love great food–that help set the event up. They run extension cords for electricity, set up lights and tables, and even mow the yard, not to mention washing dishes, running to the store, setting up the Martini Bar at Woodpile and making countless mini-egg rolls. I wish I could use an event just like this as one of my Corporate Team Building events, as it truly is an awesome experience to have so many folks working together to achieve a great goal and just wanting to be a part of the “show.” One of my favorite comments heard during a recent a GameFeed was, “I didn’t know you could help!”
I wish I had more time to get out and hunt, procuring my own game, and also spend more time in the garden, with the plan of pickling and creating wonderful fresh accompaniments to the game. Maybe this year. Thankfully, donations from fellow hunters and gatherers always roll in, with such delicacies as Rocky Mountain Elk, Dane County Snapping Turtle, plenty of Wisconsin Venison and Fish, and last year a lot of Wild Turkey (the bird).
There is one dish that has become legendary, partially because it is really good, partly because it “tastes like chicken,” but most likely because it elicits a “Really?” response when you tell people you had it (and it did sort of taste like chicken and it was good). Here I give you my recipe for Squirrel Pizza.
I always tell people what they are eating. But if they don’t listen and find they love this pizza, well that’s another story.
1 pizza crust, pre baked or use flour tortillas or flatbread
¾ cup pizza sauce
1 cup cooked squirrel meat, usually stewed or braised
½ pound Wisconsin cheese or more!
Method: Preheat oven to 425 F. Top the pizza with the sauce, cooked squirrel meat and then plenty of cheese. Bake on a pizza stone or cornmeal lined tray until the cheese is bubbly and browned a bit. Cool a bit and cut into small pieces as everyone is going to want some.