Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Squares

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Squares

We spend a lot of time traveling or out in nature. We like to have a (somewhat) healthy snack on hand and we like to not spend (way too much) money on the junk you find in the store. My most recent solution has been baking these gluten-free chewy granola squares.

They do contain sugar, so unless you’re pretty active you don’t want to be eating these all the time. You can vary the types and amounts of nutrients you’re getting, by varying your “add-ins.” So, if you want more of a dessert, throw in the chocolate chips. If you want a healthier snack, stick with nuts and sugar-free dried fruit.

Either way, this recipe is simple to make and always tastes great!

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Squares

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or palm shortening, softened
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar or palm sugar
  • 1-2 cups of add-ins — you can vary your add-ins to vary the “healthy level” of your bars by choosing things like miniature dark chocolate chips, carob chips, raisins, craisins, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and/or chopped nuts

Note: If you’re not worried about gluten, you can use regular instead of gluten-free flour.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or shortening, maple syrup, and sugar. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Gently stir in the 1-2 cups of add-ins.
  4. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. It can be kind of hard to tell when the granola is “golden brown” so err on the side of caution as the bars will harden as they cool and you don’t want them too hard.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars. The mixture will still be slightly soft and it will make bar-ification easier.
  7. Let the bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving. They should be crusty out on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Squares

Too Many Eggs? Make Homestead Deviled Eggs

At our peak, we had 34 chickens here at our Idaho homestead — Cuckoo Marans, Rhode Island Reds, Black Sex Links, Red Sex Links, Easter Eggers, bantams of all sorts, a big awesome rooster named Alice, and one super cute silver spangled Hamburg hen. Needless to say, it meant we often ended up with extra eggs since it’s just the two of us here.

Most frequently, I use the extra eggs to make “egg thing” — I guess it’s a crustless quiche? Frittata? Egg casserole? So, yeah, this is why we just call it “egg thing” and throw in whatever veggies we have in the house. We also frequently make hard-boiled eggs for snacks.

Hardboiled eggs

But our favorite thing to do with all those eggs? Deviled eggs. They are one of Winslow’s favorite foods ever and they’re not very hard to make (as long as you don’t want to get fancy and use a pastry piper, which as people with busy lives and lots of chores, we don’t — we just make little hatch marks with the fork).

Deviled eggs are also easy to change up and personalize to your tastes or just to have a different taste from batch to batch. So if you find you’ve got too many eggs floating around, give deviled eggs a try.

Easy Homestead Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Paprika, for garnish

Note: For the mayonnaise you can use store-bought mayonnaise or make your own paleo mayonnaise. When I buy mayo, I buy the Just Mayo brand. While it does contain canola, it does not contain soy, which we personally find more offensive.

Deviled Egg IngredientsDirections:

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water so the water is an inch or so above the eggs.
  2. Heat on high until water begins to boil.
  3. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat and leave covered for 15-20 minutes, then rinse under cold water.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Crack shells and peel.
  7. Gently dry the eggs.
  8. Slice eggs in half lengthwise.
  9. Remove yolks and place in bowl. Set whites on a plate or in a serving dish.
  10. Mash yolks with fork.
  11. Add mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  12. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the egg whites. If you want to get fancy, you can use a piping tool or poke cool fork patterns into the yolks once you’ve spooned in the filling. Our homestead is not that fancy. We’re hungry.
  13. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Hardboiled eggsIdeas for spicing it up:

  • Use chipotle or sriracha mayo instead of regular mayo. Just use more mayo and no mustard, if you try this.
  • Use horseradish instead of mustard.
  • Swap out half the mayo for some super ripe avocado.
  • Mince 1 stalk of celery and add it to the filling for some texture.

And no, Pixel, you cannot have any of the deviled eggs…

Hangry Pixel

Rabbit or Chicken Navy Bean Soup

Rabbit or Chicken Navy Bean Soup

Rabbit meat might not be your thing—although if you like chicken, you should know that good rabbit is like the best chicken white meat you’ve ever had—but this soup works well for both rabbit and chicken meat.

If you’ve roasted a chicken lately and want to do something different with it or have leftover meat in the fridge, this soup is easy, quick, and guaranteed to be filling thanks to the lovely navy beans.

I like to soak our beans as I think it cuts down on some of the bean…effect. But it’s up to you whether or not you want to do that step. Some people like their beans firmer than we do—we tend to like all our veggies and beans pretty mushy.

Whatever you do, don’t wimp out on the red pepper flakes. They add a subtle kick and a lot of depth to this rabbit or chicken navy bean soup.

Rabbit or Chicken Navy Bean Soup

Serves: 6-8

Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including bean soak time)

Cook Time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 16oz dried navy beans
  • Enough water to submerge beans
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 5oz can diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1-1.5 pounds cooked and shredded chicken or rabbit

Directions:

  1. Soak beans for 4 hours and then rinse thoroughly. Soak for another 4 hours and rinse again.
  2. Combine beans, 4 cups broth, tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper in a stock pot.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat and simmer for two hours.
  5. Add additional 3 cups water, corn, red pepper flakes, and meat. Simmer for an additional one to two hours.
Elk Steak London Broil

Elk Steak London Broil

The classic London Broil is one of our favorite ways to prepare meat. The combination of marinating and fast, hot cooking makes for a great way to make more affordable meat taste fantastic. This approach works well with elk steak, as well.

Unlike conventional meat, elk meat (and other types of game) can vary greatly from animal to animal since they do not grow and live in a controlled environment. And while there are things you can do in the processing stage to make your animal taste better (aging, proper butchering, etc.), you can’t really change whether you got a tender animal or a tough animal. So marinating makes sense when it comes to game meat. (Although some people think it doesn’t do anything, I feel like it does.)

This variation of a beef London Broil recipe tastes great with the rich, unique flavor of elk. Vary your marinating times and cooking times depending on the thickness of your elk steak.

Elk Steak London Broil

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (use tamari if you’re gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon course-ground or whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2lbs elk steaks

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except elk steaks into a dish that you can seal tight. I use a plastic container with a lid that locks into place. Shake the ingredients until very well mixed.
  2. Lay the steaks out in the dish and gently score both sides of each steak. Go about an 1/8-inch deep and score diagonally in both directions.
  3. Close the container, shake the ingredients around, and marinate anywhere from 6-48 hours in your refrigerator depending on the thickness of your steaks. I try to flip my container about every 6 hours.
  4. Before cooking, remove the steaks from the marinade and pat them dry. Let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. I typically let them sit longer, but if you belong to what Winslow calls “the cult of refrigeration,” that might make you nervous. Short story: cold steaks don’t cook well.
  5. You can broil or pan fry the steaks (I know, it’s not really a London broil if you pan fry it, but technically this is a beef dish anyway, so have an open mind). Either way, make sure everything is nice and hot. Throw a bunch of butter in your pan if you’re frying your steaks or spray your broiler pan with cooking oil if you’re broiling to ensure your steaks don’t stick. Cook the steaks on each side for 3-6 minutes, depending on the thickness
  6. Test your steaks for doneness by using the finger test—don’t cut them open!
  7. Let the steaks stand for a few minutes before you slice them up.

We love to eat our elk steak with mashed potatoes and green beans to keep things simple, easy, and classic! (Not to mention, really tasty!)

 

Mushroom Barley Venison Stew

One of my favorites things to do on a cold winter day is what I call “freezer shopping.” With all the snow we’ve had lately, it’s hard to make it into town to an actual grocery store. But it’s not a problem because we planned ahead and stocked ourselves up well. We can go months without needing to buy any meat. So a couple times a week, I make my way to our freezer and pick out the meat for our meals.

Freezer Shopping Venison Elk Pork

A recent freezer shopping outing yielded pork we processed from a pig we bought, venison we hunted, and elk “BS” we were gifted from a friend.

We were lucky enough to get a whitetail this year, so we have quite a bit of venison stocked up, and there’s nothing like a hearty stew to warm you up after being outside working for a few hours on a sub-freezing day.

The addition of mushrooms to this stew pairs so well with the richness of the venison, and the barley takes the satiety rating to yet another level. Note: if you prefer to be gluten-free, then I suggest swapping the barley for brown rice. It would also work to make this stew with any red meat, such as elk, beef, beaver, etc.

Mushroom Barley Venison Stew

Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs venison, cubed
  • 1/4 cup flour (regular or gluten-free)
  • 2 Tbsp butter (or fat of your choice)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms (canned, fresh, or rehydrated from dry will all work)
  • 16oz can diced tomato (and juices)
  • 2 cups broth (beef is best, but whatever is in your cupboard will work)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Place venison in plastic bag or dish with flour. Shake or toss with hands to coat meat.
  2. Heat butter in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven.
  3. Make sure the pan is good and hot. Then meat to the pan and brown on all sides.
  4. Once meat is brown, add onion, celery, mushrooms, tomato, broth, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and parsley. Stir to combine.
  5. Heat until boiling. Stir everything up again, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add barley and water. Stir to combine.
  7. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.

Dish this out into a bowl, butter up some cornbread to go with it, and enjoy!

2 Confessions and My 1st Time Making Venison Tallow

2 Confessions and My 1st Time Making Venison Tallow

Confession #1: I’ve long had a fear of making soap. Lye seems scary. Chemistry feels complicated. But everyone I know swears it’s not a big deal and winds up being a lot of fun.

Confession #2: I hate wasting any part of any animal we raise, fish, or hunt. The level of obligation I feel to these animals to use and respect every part of them is pretty intense.

So, it seems like I could deal with #2 by getting over #1, right? Because to make soap, you need a fat — and that would give me a use for all the lovely fat that comes with each animal. Plus, we’re pretty committed to not having soaps here on our property with anything in them that is questionable for the environment, so it makes the most sense to make our own. (Confession #3: we don’t actually ever use soap in the shower, but we do use hand soap and laundry detergent.)

Adventures in Venison Tallow

Old-Timey Tallow Ad

Old-Timey Tallow Ad

Of course, before you can make the soap with the fat, you first need to render the fat. If you render pig fat, you make “lard.” If you render fat from beef, lamb, goat, or just about any other critter, you get “tallow.” Although apparently chicken or goose fat when rendered is sometimes called “schmalz.” I did not make schmalz. This week, we had a bunch of venison fat on hand, so I decided to use a bit of it for my first fat rendering-tallow making experiment.

First, I did a bunch of research since I didn’t really know what I was doing, other than a general idea of heating up the fat and then filtering it. Turns out that’s really the whole idea, but I didn’t know this. Some people render fat in the oven and some in the slow cooker. I found a few people doing it in cast iron pans and that’s the method I decided to try…since I don’t currently have a pot (it’s still in Washington along with other things of ours…like our HPMDU, but that’s another story) and we didn’t have enough sunshine for me to run my Instant Pot (which can be a slow cooker). So, cast iron on the propane burner it was.

Step 1:

Cutting up the fat was the only tedious part of the process, but boy did my skin end up ridiculously soft as a result! Different sources I read put more or less emphasis on the need to get the fat as clean as possible by trimming off anything with color. The concern is that leaving bits of meat tissue or non-fat tissue on the fat will lend it an unfavorable flavor or cause it to burn in the pan. That said, in all the articles I read, pretty much everyone started out really diligent in their trimming and acknowledged that they got sloppier as they went.

I was moderately diligent, but not obsessive by any means and experienced zero bad taste in the final product and zero burning. I do wish I’d been more diligent about cutting the fat into equally sized pieces, though. That would have been valuable in having it render evenly and is why I think my cracklins didn’t get crackly (more on this later).

2 Confessions and My 1st Time Making Venison TallowStep 2:

Since I did the cast iron pan method, I had to hang out with the fat the whole rendering process so I could check it and stir it. A lot of people write about how the fat smells bad and you want to do this outside. But I didn’t think this fat smelled bad at all. It makes me wonder about how these people sourced their fat and what those animals were eating, as that can make animals and in particular their fat taste very different.

Anyway, the most important part in this step is to not burn the fat. Everyone says that results in a very bad taste, too. So I monitored the temperature and moved things around regularly. Over time, you’ll see your bits begin to change color and shrink up while the pan fills with clear liquid.

2 Confessions and My 1st Time Making Venison Tallow2 Confessions and My 1st Time Making Venison TallowStep 3:

Once your bits look crispy, then they are known as “cracklins.” The trick is to render as much fat as possible out of them so they are nice and crispy without burning them. I chickened out a bit early since this was my first time. Once my cracklins cooled I could see there was still an obvious amount of fat in them. They also didn’t really look very “crackly” or appetizing, so they went to the chickens (who loved them). Next time, I’ll try them myself!

Venison Tallow CracklinsStep 4:

Once the cracklins are out of the pan, you’ll have a beautiful pond of liquid fat! Now you need to strain it to get all the bits out. I used a wide mouthed Mason jar as my receptacle and strained the fat through a silicone filter and a couple layers of cheesecloth. I had a tiny bit of sediment that made it into my tallow, but it really was just specks. Some people really obsess over this filtration procedure, too. Just go slow and filter more than once if you need to or with more than one layer of cloth.

Venison TallowVenison TallowVenison TallowStep 4

Once you’ve filtered your rendered fat, you let it cool! While mine was a golden color when hot, it cooled down to a beautiful clean cream color. You can keep this on your counter just like butter since you’ve filtered out all the bits that can potentially spoil quickly on you. Or if you think it’s strange to keep butter on the counter, you can also refrigerate this and have a not-very-fun time putting this or your butter on any soft foods.

Venison TallowStep 5

And of course the final step (and test) is to eat it! I decided to dice up an acorn squash, toss it in warmed up tallow, sprinkle a little salt and garlic powder on it, and put it in the oven to roast. And wow — it did not disappoint! The squash caramelized beautifully and there was no funky taste to the tallow at all. It almost made the squash taste like sweet potato fries. I was not sad!

Venison Tallow

I’m really happy with how this first batch turned out and the cast iron method was ridiculously simple. Next time I think I’ll give the oven rendering method a shot since it seems very hands off and easy, too, and I’d like to do a much bigger batch.

I’m currently working on acquiring more fat, in particular leaf fat (the best quality, cleanest tasting fat that is around the kidneys and other organs in that area) to work with so I end up with enough to make soap. But it turns out it’s pretty hard to purchase leaf fat in this area no matter the animal you want it from — it gets snatched up really quickly and isn’t very affordable.

Once I get that part figured out, then the next two steps will be making soap, and then taking that soap and making it into laundry detergent. Also known as fun with lye, borax, and washing soda! I will be sure to update you on this adventure, don’t worry.

Articles I used in my research that you may want to read:

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Rabbit Soup

As much as I love cooking, one of the essential aspects of minimalizing is also minimalizing your kitchen and your food. A gourmet kitchen and a tiny home are just not all that compatible. That said, you don’t have to give up eating good food and there are simpler ways to create it. So really, in the end, it’s a win – you can still create fantastic food, but in less time and with fewer (expensive) gadgets.

As an example of this, I am sharing with you today my personal split-pea soup recipe. While for all my life I have hated, and continue to hate, peas, I for some reason love split-pea soup. In my mind, it tastes nothing like peas and there are few better things to eat on a cold, rainy day. (Unless we add a good grilled cheese sandwich and an Irish coffee to the scenario, that is.)

The Device

The technology I use to minimalize my kitchen includes an Instant Pot countertop electric pressure cooker. It’s pretty much the coolest kitchen device ever invented. It also functions as a rice cooker, slow cooker, and (in newer models than mine) yogurt maker. It’s the bomb.

Instant Pot Pressure CookerThe caveat is that the instructions are entertainment at best. Hence, it took me quite some time to figure out that the “sauté” button was a super useful thing. Maybe other people would figure that out sooner. Please, don’t judge.

My instructions are written with this device in mind, but could just as easily translate to a regular old-school pressure cooker. You could also go super old-school and do this in a pot for the afternoon on your stovetop. I simply prefer to walk away from my food sometimes. And, as an added bonus for the future, I could do this outside our RV-house and have zero worries as long as I place the device on a stable surface.

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Rabbit Soup

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20-22 minutes for soup, varies for meat
  • Servings: ~8 bowls

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter (or fat of choice)
  • 150g onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200g carrots, diced
  • 40g celery, diced
  • 400g yellow sweet potato
  • 1lb split peas (green, yellow, or a combo)
  • 5-6 cups broth (chicken or rabbit)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1.5lb rabbit meat (or your meat of choice)

pressure cooker rabbit soupDirections:

  • Put the butter/fat-of-choice in the pressure cooker and hit the sauté button
  • Once the butter is hot, add the onions and garlic. Sauté for a couple-few minutes, until translucent.
  • Add carrots, celery, and potatoes. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until starting to soften.
  • Add peas, broth, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Stir ingredients together.
  • Turn off the sauté option.
  • Close the top of the pressure cooker and hit the “soup” button.
  • Cook for 20-22 minutes.
  • Once soup is done, release the pressure and stir the ingredients around.
  • Pull out the bay leaves while you stir.
  • Grab your immersion blender and blend until about half smooth. I like to leave some chunks for texture and aesthetic appeal. The veggies will all be soft enough that you could achieve close to the same effect by mashing around a bunch in the pot with a big, sturdy spoon.
  • Mix in the rabbit meat (or meat of your choice)
  • Serve!

Note: I use my own homemade rabbit broth for this, but you could also use homemade or store-bought chicken broth or vegetable broth.

pressure cooker split pea soup

Preparing the Rabbit Meat

Typically, I cook the rabbit right before I make this soup. The process goes like this:

  1. Pressure cook rabbit – put the rabbit(s) in whole with some poultry spice, salt, and pepper, along with a few cups of water, and cook for the time prescribed by the number of pounds you’re cooking, typically in the 20-30 minute range. I normally do two rabbits for about 24 minutes.
  2. Pull rabbit out and let it cool.
  3. Prepare ingredients for the soup and get it going in the same pressure cooker (saves a whole cleaning cycle).
  4. Dismantle rabbit and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Soup is done; rabbit goes in.

With a little practice, it all times out just right. And even if it doesn’t, it’s just soup. Nothing bad will happen. On the other hand, if you hurry, you’re going to burn your hands trying to shred the rabbit while it’s still hot. Of course, you can also cook the rabbit or whatever meat you’re using the day before, or even days before, and it still works just fine.

rabbit4I wrote this recipe for rabbit (since you know, rabbits breed like rabbits), but you could easily substitute the rabbit with ham, turkey, or any sort of diced or ground lighter meat. Sometimes, instead of pressure-cooking the rabbit, I smoke it to get a smokier taste in this soup. It just depends how much time you want to dedicate to the whole process.

Variations and Options

  • Use white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes
  • Add more broth for a thinner soup. We like ours thick.
  • Used diced ham, shredded chicken, or browned ground turkey instead of rabbit
  • Add more meat or a variety of meats for a heartier soup and a higher protein count
  • Add a step at the very beginning of the directions – fry up some bacon using the sauté option, then pull the bacon out and use that fat to cook your onions and garlic in. When the soup is done, crumble the bacon in.
BBQ Rabbit Recipe

Easy & Subtle BBQ Rabbit Recipe

The joke about rabbits is no joke. If you have a couple rabbits, you have a lot of rabbits. And when you raise rabbits for meat, you start getting really creative about how to prepare it.

One of my favorite ways to prepare rabbit is a simple smoking method. You do have to pay attention and do some work. It’s not as easy as a slow cooker or a quick as a pressure cooker, but the results are well worth it.

BBQ Rabbit Recipe

Tips on Smoking Rabbit

This recipe is different from many that you will find on the Internet for BBQ rabbit in that it was designed for domesticated meat rabbits, not cottontails or hares. That is why there is no brining step in this recipe. A good homegrown meat rabbit is like the best white meat off a chicken that you’ve ever had and it doesn’t require brining. You can brine if you want, but you definitely don’t have to.

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees. You will drop this to 200 when you put the rabbit in, but I like to get a good smoke going and really heat things up first. I recommend using either hickory or applewood, but you can experiment with different woods.

We have a combo roaster-smoker from Oster that I love. It’s simple, easy to clean, and does double-duty in our household. This is something I demand from pretty much all our appliances. I’ve even baked bread quite successfully in this thing! That said, even though it’s a “countertop” device, you absolutely do not want to smoke anything in your house.

oster smoker roaster

Subtle BBQ Rabbit Recipe

  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2 hours
  • Servings: ~20 4-ounce servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 rabbits (~5 pounds total)
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • BBQ sauce of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees
  2. Mix all spices together
  3. Pat rabbit dry and coat evenly with spice mix
  4. Drop smoker temperature to 200 degrees
  5. Place rabbit in the smoker
  6. After 15 minutes, paint the rabbit with BBQ sauce
  7. Repeat every 15 minutes until meat hits 160 degrees

This will take approximately 2 hours depending on the size of your rabbit and the ambient temperatures affecting your smoker and its ability to maintain 200 degrees. I learned the hard way that a windy day can make a mess of your intentions when it comes to smoking meat. So be alert to the weather and adjust your smoker temperature accordingly.

At the half-way point, flip the rabbit over in the smoker so you’re not just slathering the BBQ sauce on one side.

I personally hate when recipes say things like “serves eight” when there’s only one pound of meat involved. So, I always calculate “servings” based off four ounces of meat. So if you start with five pounds of rabbit, you’ll get twenty servings of meat. If you’re hungry or just love the taste, you’ll have fewer than that.

rabbitcollage1

Keep It Simple to Keep It Versatile

We are a low-salt household and typically make our recipes with half of what any recipe recommends. So if you are a salt lover, you’re going to want to double what I recommended.

If you like your BBQ flavor more intense than just use one rabbit or double the spices. For me, I like to reuse the meat in a variety of ways over the subsequent days. This is why I do multiple rabbits and keep the flavors subtle. Also, smoking multiples seems more energy-conscious than running the smoker for hours for a singular rabbit.

This recipe could also be used for chicken, since good domesticated meat rabbit and chicken are pretty interchangeable, and, honestly, quite indistinguishable. You could feed this recipe to just about anybody and they’d swear it was chicken.

IMG_0069

Special Note: If you’re like me, you will never ever remember to not have your face an inch from the smoker when you open the lid. For your own sake, do your best to stand back and not be downwind. Unless you want to go blind and burn your lungs, which is pretty much what I do. Every. Single. Time.

Simple Smoked Trout Recipe

When I was a little girl, I used to go fishing with my dad on a regular basis. Mostly, I remember him waking me up at 4am so we could go sit in a tiny boat, in the cold, in the dark, just off the shores of Lake Michigan. While my dad caught many fish, I don’t remember catching a single one.

Recently, Winslow and I acquired a tiny little boat of our own, and the other day we ventured out onto a local lake with it. We’ve fished this lake before – Lake Leland – but only from the dock. But I did catch a lovely giant brown trout on one of those outings, and for a while Winslow was limiting out on a daily basis, bringing home five rainbow trout each time he went to the lake.

But, without a boat, there are things you have to deal with. The dock is only so big and at certain times of the day becomes very crowded and noisy. And overrun with children. And as glad as I am that they are all learning to fish as I did, it doesn’t mean I want to be next to them when they ask their own dads every five minutes if they can reel their line in.

So our little boat adventure was both a mental reprieve and an investigation of what might happen if we could fish anywhere in the lake that we desired. And it turned out to be a rewarding investigation. We came home with five trout – three rainbow and two cutthroat – and were free of noise and distraction from nature the entire time. (Although at one point we were being stalked by two osprey, and that was a little anxiety inducing.)

Lake Leland is stocked by the state of Washington and they recently put a few thousand trout in there. They are not big, but they are plentiful and the combo of where our new boat could take us and the bait/lure combo we used worked beautifully. We plan to get out there again as soon as we can. We can limit out at five fish a piece, so next time we plan to come home with ten.

Since the fish were small, we decided to smoke them whole. Typically Winslow handles the butchery and I handle the cooking, so that’s how the fish were handled this time, as well. But it was much easier on both of us than in the past when we’ve tried to filet the fish. Winslow gutted them and cleaned them, I marinaded and smoked them. Once they came out of the smoker, I flaked all the meat off the bone in just a short time, and we wound up with a pile of lovely looking and fabulous tasting trout meat. We ate some as is for dinner and will likely use the rest up in our breakfast scrambles throughout the coming week.

troutcollage1

Fresh-caught trout, marinade, and fish in the marinade.

Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from various things I found on the web and adjusted to our personal taste. It’s ridiculously easy and allows you to get every bit of meat off each fish. It’s simpler than filleting or even steaking out a fish, too. And the process of smoking them whole is easier than smoking filets since the skin acts as a “foil wrap” to hold all the moisture in. I was impressed at how easy this was to do, and how much meat we were able to glean compared to other methods I’ve tried in the past. And oh yeah, it tasted great!

Ingredients:

  • 5 whole trout, skin on, head on, tail on, etc.
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cut tamari
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

We tend to keep our salt intake pretty low, so I let the tamari do the salt work in this recipe. If you prefer to TASTE your salt more, then either use garlic salt in the place of garlic powder (and increase the amount) or add some salt.

troutcollage2

In the smoker, out of the smoker, and as a pile of lovely meat.

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the trout) together and whisk.
  2. Cut slits in the sides of your trout if you can so the marinade soaks. This is easier said than done depending on the type of trout you have (the cutthroat we had defied slitting) and you will need a sharp knife.
  3. Place the the fish and the marinade in a sealed container and marinate for 2-4 hours. The longer you marinate the more flavor you get. I also make a habit of flipping the container over every hour to make sure everything gets exposed to the fish. I set a timer to remind me to do this.
  4. Heat up your smoker or BBQ. I use a standalone smoker/roaster so it’s super simple. I used apple wood for this recipe and heated it up at about 200 degrees to get the smoke going.
  5. Once the smoker is hot, turn it down to about 190 and place the fish inside the smoker. Don’t crowd the fish and use multiple racks if necessary.
  6. It will take 2-3 hours for the fish to be done. Since you are smoking the whole fish, you will have a lot of leeway when it comes to “doneness.” Strictly speaking you’ll probably want a thermometer to read about 145 degrees, but if the fish is starting to fall apart and look flaky, it’s probably plenty done.
  7. Once the fish is done, remove it from the smoker and set it on a cooling rack. Don’t set it in a dish or it will be harder to peel the skin off.
  8. Once the fish cools a bit, you should be able to peel the skin of pretty easily and flake the meat off the bones. If you’re careful, you’ll wind up with no bones at all in the meat.