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Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish

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Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish

Afield

If you're not a hunter or into fishing, Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Jesse Griffiths will make you wish you were. The lovely, natural light photography and old-fashioned story-telling remind those of us stuck at desks most of the day how good it feels to move around outside; recipes for things like Hot Fried Birds make those of us who cook want to get our hands on the results of such hearty outdoor activity.

Ultra-Local

Griffiths comes to hunting and fishing from his perspective as a chef, as someone who isn't so much an expert at hunting and fishing as he is obsessed with them and "preparing and sharing what he catches." In short, the pleasure he takes in being in the great outdoors with friends isn't the whole story. The resulting catch has "fed on wild grasses and austere surroundings from which they were gathered. In many cultures, this is perceived as an advantage - a boon to the eater." His love for the complex flavors of wild fish and game come across in every story and every recipe.

Thus the focus of Afield isn't simply "direct sourcing," but how to make the best use of the results of hunting and fishing. It is a mix of stories about hunting and fishing, cooking tips, and great recipes along with guides to dressing, fileting, or butchering everything from catfish to doves, crabs to rabbits, flounder to feral hogs, snipe to deer.

Not Just for Hunters

For all the "how to clean rabbits and squirrels" that make Afield such a fascinating book, it contains plenty of recipes even the non-fishing, non-hunting cooks among us can make. The Turkey Pot Pie recipe calls for turnips along with the more traditional carrots and peas, and a puff pastry top. Turkey Cutlets with Mushroom Gravy has equally wide appeal. I can't help but mention that the guide for butchering turkey would come in handy for anyone interested in simply breaking down a whole bird from the grocery store.

Other recipes that catch this cook's eye that don't involve developing a new set of outdoorsy skills include the Duck and Oyster Gumbo, White Bass Veracruzana, and Pappardelle with Rabbit, Muscat, and Cream. The Crab Posole doesn't look too shabby either.

Some of the lessons Griffiths takes from his time hunting and fishing don't seem limited to those activities either. My favorite is "you never know how it's going to go, you just need to go." That's pretty much what I tell people about cooking.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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