Lancaster Brewing Company has been supporting the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania for a couple years via proceeds from sales of its Winter Warmer beer. Last month, LBC’s Lancaster location hosted a multi-course wild game dinner as an additional benefit for the Lititz wildlife sanctuary. Under the direction of Chef Pietro, the menu features an American bison tartare, rabbit rillette, New Zealand lamb chops and venison loin, each paired with a LBC brew (click here to see the menu). Don’t worry if you missed out – another wild game dinner is in the works for January.
Following the dinner, we hit up Chef Pietro (real name Pete Vasile) to school us on his experience cooking with wild game and exotic meats – and how best to pair them with a craft brew.
Fly Magazine: As a chef, what’s interesting about cooking with wild game?
Chef Pietro: First, the flavor is a little different than regular beef or something like that. There’s less fat content on the meat, so it’s important to take that into perspective.
FM: What challenges come along with cooking game?
CP: People always say wild game is a little tougher. If you’re doing something like an elk osso bucco compared to a veal osso bucco – veal has rich flavor and a heck of a lot more fat – so the elk will dry up faster and you’ve got to keep that in mind. You may have to include more sauce. I like elk a lot. The elk osso bucco is something I like to do. Sometimes chefs will brine their game, too, just so it holds up.
FM: Do you think with the rise of the “eat local” movement eating wild game will become a trend?
CP: Yeah, I think people will get into it. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand price-wise. Sometimes local produce gets expensive.
FM: What’s the most exotic thing you’ve eaten?
CP: I’ve had fried duck hearts. That’s not too exotic, but it’s kind of out there. I’ve also had mountain lion stew. It’s rich in flavor, and that goes a long way in a stew. Cooking a stew is a slow process, so it gives the meat that time to break down a little bit and tenderize.
FM: We love to pair beer with whatever we’re eating. What do you recommend for game?
CP: Something like our Winter Warmer [a full-bodied old ale] would pair well with the venison. We’re doing an ancho chile chocolate rub. Anytime you do a chocolate or espresso rub it goes really well with game. The bison tartare would pair well with something like our Fest beer – an Oktoberfest-style beer. Rabbit has a lighter flavor – like a dark meat chicken, which matches well with lager.
(photo via Flickr user stu_spivack)