Phil, a lifetime hunter, and fisherman, only recently got into specialty dish cooking after reading the book “A Scavengers Guide to Haute Cuisine”. In that book, the author hunted, fished, and gathered all the ingredients for an entire year, in which he then cooked 3 consecutive 15-course meals for his family and friends over a thanksgiving weekend.
“After reading that book, practicing and creating a few dishes, I was inspired to do my own, simplified version of the meal. I had grown up hearing lots of people complain about the wild “gamey” flavors and difficulties in cooking with wild game, so I set out to prove that I could create multiple delicious, indistinguishable or better than their store bout counterparts.” Said Phil, But he know he would need a little back-up help to make this work. “I enlisted my dad, Mike Bruckbauer, and hunting partner Phil Murphy, both accomplished home cooks in their own right, to help me in the cooking of the meal. ”
For the second year now, the Grain Designs team and our significant others were honored to be invited to this intimate gathering, to join the Bruckbauer family for Phils meal. This meal would consist of 10 dishes total, and all incorporated wild game that they had fished or hunted for in that year. As we gathered around the Grain Designs table built for Phil’s parents 3 years ago, we were sure of only one thing. Regardless of knowing what we were getting ourselves into with these dishes, we were guaranteed to leave the table with a grin on our faces from the laughs we would have, and restored connections made.
Dish #1: Smashed potatoes with minced pheasant, Brussel sprouts, onion, peppers, with garlic cashew cream and spicy aioli.
Dish #2: Shakshuka with venison sausage.
Dish #3: Partridge and bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers.
Dish #4: Walleye ceviche.
Dish #5: Sharptail grouse potstickers with sautéed snow peas, onion, bacon, and sweet chili sauce.
Dish #6: Spanish spiced wild turkey and date skewers with carrot and goat cheese purée.
Dish #7: Deep fried fish balls (Crappie) with coconut curry rice.
Dish #8: Moose Rosso buck with polenta and gremolata.
Dish #9: Venison back strap with cauliflower mash purée with asparagus.
“I enjoy the process of practicing and testing recipes all winter in preparation of the meal and it also forces me to continue to be creative and learn new cooking techniques that I may not have known prior to this experience. It’s a really fun tradition we’ve started and each meal has its own learning, laughing, crying, storytelling moments, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next spring!” It’s important to note, that Danny Bruckbauer, Phil’s brother, is a potter and hand potted each dish used to serve his 10 meals on!
As a company that strongly believes in bringing people together around the table, this new tradition is the perfect illustration of just that. Between each meal, stories were told, tears were shed from both laughing and reminiscing, and the joy spread from the simplicity of being able to gather around a dining table was, once more, proven to be priceless. Ironically, this gathering happened in February, just weeks before Covid-19 broke out. We hold close the cherished moments of that night and we look forward to being able to soon gather around the table together, once again.