Wild Game and Wine

With cooler temperatures prevailing and the sun waning, at this time of year we turn to hearty reds and even heartier fare. With all the controversy regarding the mass-produced industrial protein sources raised in confined, high density feedlots (beef, pork, and chicken) that by-in-large are controlled by the fast food industry, maybe it’s time to consider a healthy and sustainable change. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are fortunate to have Nicky USA a purveyor of specialty wild game and other quality proteins.

Whether it is your more familiar lamb or something that your might not normally think about serving like pheasant, quail, bison, elk, rabbit, goat, venison, or even water buffalo, thanks to Nicky USA, no one is confined to cooking industrial farmed, feedlot meat and poultry.  Nicky USA, in conjunction with a group of family-owned sustainable farms and ranches across the Northwest brings to the table the finest offerings of healthy, specialty game produced anywhere. Geoff Latham, the founder of Nicky USA, got his start in 1990 selling rabbit from the trunk of his Ford Escort to local restaurants and retailers in the Portland area.

Looking for a source to replace the conventional beef most of us use to make the heartier fall and winter dishes Nicky USA came to mind and I thought I would give something new a try like Water Buffalo. I had tried the Water Buffalo sliders the Nicky USA crew served at a local event, and they were awesome.  A couple of phone calls later I had some marrow bones and short ribs from a freshly harvested Water Buffalo.  The meat is lean like American bison, very low in cholesterol, and the flavor is beefy and clean.  I recommend braising the short ribs in stock and red wine with mirepoix. The marrow bones cooked easily and rendered some of the most delicious marrow I have ever tasted.  Mixing the cooked marrow into risotto or polenta takes those two starch staples to another level. Wine pairing for a dish like Red Wine Braised Water Buffalo Short Ribs and Roasted Marrow Bones is easy as long as you stick to big and bold and time isn’t an issue.

A Walla Walla Syrah or Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon would get the job done well, but I chose an Aussie 2012 Clare Valley single vineyard St. Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon from Wakefield.  Consuming this wine with the short rib dish was like hearing the most harmonious vocal duet you’ve ever heard. This duet became more than the sum of their parts with a symphony of flavors that reached culinary nirvana at the finale.

If you’re concerned too and want to get away from the protein sources the fast food industry controls, it’s time to taste the same sustainable, free range game birds and meats the best restaurants are serving. Check out www.nickyusa.com for recipes and the retailers who carry these products or you can just ask your butcher about them.  Enjoy!

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