Deer, beer and wild 'shrooms 

Secrets to serving up a Montana-style spread

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Main course

Marinated Venison Steaks

Steve Decker, vice president of marketing, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

What you'll need:

1 1/2 cups olive oil

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

1/2 cup lemon juice

Choice cuts of venison

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

How to make it:

We'll keep this one simple. Mix ingredients in a bowl. Submerge selected cuts of locally harvested venison in marinade. Let sit, the longer the better—refrigerate overnight, if possible. Grill venison to desired temperature.

The story behind the recipe:

This recipe is the product of a long-running challenge between two brothers, both members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, aimed at designing the ultimate wild game marinade. Over the course of nearly two decades, the brothers sent each other a variety of concoctions each had made up, some better than others, until the day that one sent this particular recipe to the other. Upon trying it, the challenge was deemed complete. The ultimate wild game marinade had been found.

An RMEF headquarters staffer later introduced the recipe to fellow coworkers at a Christmas party several years ago and the status of the now-legendary marinade only builds. To this day, the recipe remains popular in the halls, and especially sizzling on the barbecue grills, of RMEF staffers.


Bitterroot Mac Apple Tart

Kim Batchelder, head chef, The Buttercup Market & Cafe

What you'll need:

3 apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons Wustner Brothers Honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Montana Flour and Grain unbleached flour

For the dough:

1 1/2 cup Montana Flour and Grain unbleached flour

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon of very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 Bitterroot Heritage Farm egg

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

How to make it:

To make the dough, place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in the the bowl of a processor or just a bowl, and pulse or mix with a fork until crumbly and the pieces are no bigger than a pea.

Lightly beat the egg yolk and slowly add to the mix until it starts to form a ball. Turn out onto a board and knead briefly to incorporate all the bits and flour. Wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to let the dough rest. Divide into four pieces and roll or press each one into a circle about a 1/4-inch thick.

To make the filling, mix the honey, cinnamon, lemon juice and flour in bowl. Toss in the apples to coat. Arrange inside an 8-inch circle of rolled or pressed out pie dough and fold up the edges about a 1/2-inch all around to keep the apples inside, but still exposed. Place on a cookie sheet or an oven-proof fry pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender.

There are a number of possible variations to this recipe. Try using a mix of different apples, such as Macs, Sweet 16, Liberties or whatever needs to be used up. Use apple brandy or a different liquor in place of the lemon juice, or substitute apricot jam. Add a 1/2 cup of fresh or dried cranberries. Or make a light egg wash with one yolk mixed with a teaspoon of water, and brush on top for an even more golden crust.

A word from The Buttercup owner Molly Galusha:

The Apple Tart is a favorite of ours in the fall and winter because of the abundance of great apples grown down the Bitterroot, in the Flathead and around Missoula, and all the possibilities of dressing it up or keeping it simple. The recipe is basic and doesn't require fancy pans or equipment or long hours to prepare or cook. Change it up by using a mix of apple varieties or a different flavor of honey, like knapweed or clover. You can also add other flavors such as a liquor or jam, or additional fruit like cranberries or pears. Serve it with a scoop of Big Dipper Cardamom Ice Cream or a slice of Lifeline Cheddar. It is a great canvas for creativity and local ingredients, quick to assemble and nearly foolproof.

Located at 1221 Helen Ave. in the heart of the University District, The Buttercup prominently features local ingredients in all of its savory and pastry creations. Kim, our premier chef who got her cooking start when 1221 Helen was the old Freddy's Feed and Read, uses local produce and Montana meats sold in the market to prepare all her delicious meals.

Where’s my turkey and stuffing?

If you’re looking for more Thanksgiving dishes, check out the Indy’s blog at for dozens of other recipes from past food issues—including ideas for your beloved turkey and stuffing.

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