12
Dec
2015
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Marsala Or Piccata For A Different Twist On Fish Or Game

As an avid fisherman and hunter for most of my life, I was long ago taught that if I was going to kill something it was my responsibility to make the best use of it by eating and preferably sharing it at the table with others.  In the course of that experience, I found that some I might have shared that bounty with, were predisposed to not like the taste of fish or game.

A little investigation as to why, found that some had never really tried fish or game, or if they had, not much care had gone into the preparation of the dish.  On a trip to the prairies a few years ago, a long-time hunter opined that sharptail grouse are “inedible,” but when I prepared some breasts in piccata sauce, he became insatiable.

I think most would agree that just about any dish prepared poorly isn’t likely to be very edible, while most dishes prepared well are likely going to please the palate – which brings this conversation to a couple of dependable and basic sauces common to Italian dishes that are easily made.

Marsala sauce – best known for its use in veal dishes – brings a rich flavor that goes particularly well with game dishes ranging from venison steaks to dove breasts.  Piccata sauce – also commonly used with veal dishes – complements both game and fish dishes with a more striking flavor.

Taking the little extra time it takes to create these sauces can make a big difference in how you and your guests will enjoy many different fish and game dishes.  The recipes that follow were first borrowed and then tinkered with to suit my taste, such as including brown mushrooms and sliced sweet onions in the marsala sauce.  Best of all, they are simple and easily prepared in a few easy steps.

Marsala Sauce
Step 1 – For approximately one pound of meat, mix approximately 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp paprika in a seal-up bag and set aside; Step 2 – Slice as much sweet onion and brown mushrooms as you care to add and set aside;
Step 3 – Add 2 tsp of the flour and seasoning mixture to one cup of marsala wine, mix and set aside;
Step 4 – Heat 2 tbs butter or olive oil to medium heat in a large frying pan;
Step 5 – Saute onions and mushrooms in pan and set aside;
Step 6 – Add meat to seal-up bag, shake, remove coated meat and add to frying pan, lightly browning one side and then the other before placing on dish in warm oven;
Step 7 – Pour off any excess oil/butter, return pan to burner;
Step 8 – Stir wine and flour mixture, add to pan and scrape bottom of pan with spatula;
Step 9 – Return meat to pan, turn to coat, add onions and mushrooms as sauce thickens;
Once sauce has thickened, remove pan from heat, garnish with sliced parsley or chives and serve.

This version of marsala sauce can be used with most meat, whether domestic or game.  I find it to be particularly good with veal and venison cutlets as well as duck, grouse and dove breasts. If preparing a large quantity of meat, you may want to experiment by using an envelope of mushroom gravy mix with the wine before adding to the pan.

Piccata Sauce
Step 1 – For one pound of meat or fish filet, mix approximately 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp paprika in a seal-up bag and set aside;
Step 2 – Add 2 tsp of the flour mixture and 1 tbs of lemon juice to 1 cup dry white wine and set aside;
Step 3 – Heat 2 tbs butter or olive oil to medium heat in a large frying pan;
Step 4 – Add meat or fish to seal-up bag, shake thoroughly and add to frying pan, lightly browning one side and then the other before placing on dish in warm oven;
Step 5 – Pour off any excess oil/butter, return pan to burner;
Step 6 – Stir wine, lemon juice & flour mixture, add to pan and scrape bottom of pan with spatula;
Step 7 – Return meat/fillets to pan, turn to coat, add 2 tbs of capers and allow sauce to thicken. Garnish with sliced lemon, chopped Italian parsley and serve.

This version of piccata sauce can be used with most meat and fowl and is particularly good with veal cutlets and the breasts of chicken, pheasant, grouse and fish fillets.

As a final note, I would add that it is important to take good care of your fish and game in particular.  I generally like to soak wild fowl with dark meat (like ducks, doves and grouse) in saltwater overnight, though I’m not sure why.  It is just something I was taught to do and never questioned.  Others use milk, buttermilk, Italian dressing or elaborate concoctions of one sort or another.

I’m no chef, but I like to cook.  No, make that love to cook.  Measurements are more general than specific when I’m in the kitchen and vary from one day to the next.  I like these sauces equally, but they are quite different.  In my opinion, the marsala sauce tends to be more subtle and complementary in a comfort food sort of way while the piccata sauce with its lemon and capers overtone brings a much more striking flavor to dishes.

Everyone’s taste is different, so experiment in order to make things suit your taste.    

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