I grew up in the heart of North Carolina’s Great Smokies and from a quite tender age was plying the area’s numerous trout streams with a fly rod in hand. Over the years I have enjoyed countless feasts featuring wild trout, and for all the many ways they can be prepared this method, simple and supremely satisfying, remains my favorite. It works equally well over an open fire in the backcountry or at the stove in your kitchen.


You’ll Need:

Two or three cleaned trout per person (small trout, in the six- to ten-inch range, are best)

Stone ground corn meal

Salt and pepper to taste

Canola oil


Clean the fish, making sure to use your thumb to push the blood line out along the interior of the spine, and leave the heads intact; they make a fine “handle” for holding trout when eating them. Shake vigorously in a Ziploc bag holding corn meal, salt, and pepper.

Fry in a skillet—I’m partial to cast iron but it isn’t ideal for trips involving backpacking, where every ounce counts—until golden brown, turning only once. The oil should be piping hot so that a tiny drop of water “bounces” when it hits the oil. Reduce heat if necessary to avoid burning once the fish are put in the pan.

Ideal accompaniments are fried potatoes and onions along with a green salad. If you are fortunate enough to have access to them, a salad of ramps and branch lettuce (saxifrage) dressed with hot bacon grease is even better.


While my preferences when it comes to venison tend to run to cube steak, backstrap (too bad the whole deer isn’t backstrap), and ground meat, there are ways the hams can be prepared without grinding or cubing them in order to help tenderize the meat.

This recipe is a personal favorite. It requires considerable prep time but is worth every bit of the effort.


You’ll Need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds venison roast, cut from the bone in piece 1 ½ inches thick

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

½ cup dry white wine

1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes in juices, drained and chopped (reserve ½ cup juice)

1 (14-ounce) can beef broth or equivalent made using beef base and water

1 teaspoon beef base (in addition to 14-ounces just mentioned

½ teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon rosemary

¼ teaspoon thyme

2 bay leaves


Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the venison in batches and brown. Remove to a platter or plate and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining oil and sauté the onion, carrot, and celery, stirring occasionally until softened—about three minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes, reserved juice, broth, beef base, and herbs.

Return the venison to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until fork tender (two to three hours). Remove the lid the final thirty minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and a minced garlic clove or two and serve with rice or pasta. This hearty main dish will serve six to eight people.


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