Call of the Wild: 11 Wild Game Dishes to Try Now

As the leaves transition from green to a fiery array of blazing reds, electric yellows, and intense oranges and winter looms, the season for wild game is on. From ducks and pheasant to elk and venison, chefs showcase the bounty of the backwoods (including those at the 2015 100 Best Restaurants in America). These rusticated ingredients resonate with diners at this time of year because they evoke America’s pioneer roots and deep culinary traditions while being the kind of hearty, heartwarming fare that helps ward off the increasingly chilly days. Here are 11 wild game dishes to try now. 

Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.
It takes a full week for chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy to prepare his show-stopping roasted Rohan duck. He begins by drying the fowl and coating it with housemade Worcestershire sauce before cooking it for a day and finishing it with a spicy honey glaze. It arrives at the table whole, so you and your guest can ooh and aah, and then the succulent meat is carved for family-style service.

Wild Game Dishes Blue Duck Tavern

Sepia, Chicago, Illinois
You know the old saying: two birds on the plate are worth four in the bush. Or something like that. Chef Andrew Zimmerman offers pheasant two ways: simply seared and tucked into a pot pie. You could call it a tasting flight if you were so inclined to employ such bad puns.

Wild game dishes

The Wine Kitchen on the Creek, Frederick, Maryland
Time to sharpen your tusks. Executive chef Jeff Beard char-braises a wild boar shank, which comes out tender, but still toothsome. It’s served on a brushstroke of parsnip gratin with rounds of smoked pear and collard greens.

Wild Game Dishes

Two, Chicago, Illinois
Looking for a beef break? Elk tastes similar, but the flavor is richer. To highlight this superior protein, executive chef Kevin Cuddihee offers a grilled loin accompanied by bacon-roasted turnips, chanterelle mushrooms, and dollops of herb butter that melt over the meat for extra oomph.

Wild game dishes

Bastille, Alexandria, Virginia
Trust the French to do a très magnifique canard. Chefs and spouses Christophe and Michelle Poteaux offer a pepper-crusted breast in a piquant long pepper sauce. The spice is balanced out by a sweet mélange of roasted pears, figs, and grapes, along with a soothing swipe of earthy celeriac puree.

Wild Game Dishes

Et Voila, Washington, D.C.
It doesn’t get more autumnal than this. Chef-owner Claudio Pirollo makes a wild boar stew enriched with chestnuts and chanterelles and served with Jerusalem artichokes. Try not to make too much noise as you scrape your spoon along the bottom for the last drop.

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Get Stuffed: 12 Super Thanksgiving Stuffings from Top Restaurants

Sure, turkey is the de facto star of the table on Thanksgiving, but let’s face it. Most of us live for stuffing or dressing as it’s also called. We’re not talking about week-old bread crumbs tossed together with a predictable poultry spice mix and some high-salt chicken stock here. No, this is about the unforgettable, too-good-to-line-your-leftover-sandwich stuffing. The dish that makes you completely forget there’s a gobbler in the middle of the table awaiting your attention. White or dark? Who cares! Pass me the stuffing. Again, please. Here are 12 super Thanksgiving stuffings that will have you ordering seconds.

Mercat a la Planxa, Chicago, Illinois
Meet the Catalan version of classic New England oyster stuffing. Razor clams dot saffron spiced squash bread pudding finished off with a splash of sherry pan jus. As they say in the northeastern Spanish region, “Déu n’hi do!” (Translation: Wow!)

Best Thanksgiving Stuffings

The Lambs Club, New York, New York
Cornbread forms the backbone of chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s stuffing. He accents the side dish with pork sausage and ground fennel seed, as well as the usual suspects: onions, carrots, celery, and plenty of garlic. The results are sweet ‘n’ savory – and sure to linger long in your memory even after Thanksgiving is a distant dot in your rear view mirror.

Best Thanksgiving Stuffings

Filini, Chicago, Illinois
You could make a meal out of this stuffing. Chef Carolina Diaz incorporates ground beef, dried cranberries, chestnuts, and walnuts into the mix, which gets an herbaceous boost from rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Try to remember to save some room for the actual turkey.

Best Thanksgiving Stuffings

Oceana, New York, New York
You’ve never had a gobbler quite like executive chef Ben Pollinger’s Cape Cod turkey. That’s because it’s completely poultry-free. He uses roast cod instead, which he packs with a über-rich crabmeat stuffing that’s so good you’ll be clacking claws with your dining companions to get seconds of it.

Best Thanksgiving Stuffings

Acadiana, Washington, D.C.
Stuffing done the Bay way. Chesapeake-sourced oysters and their briny liquor enrich this T-Day standout by chef Jeff Tunks. The dish is finished off with plenty of butter in order to…actually, no reason required. #buttermakeseverythingbetter

Best Thanksgiving Stuffings

Dino’s Grotto, Washington, D.C.
Here’s something we’ve never seen before: stuffing soup. Turkey stock-based Italian bread soup features hearty plugs of turkey sausage floating in its dark depths. Remember, it’s not polite to pick up the bowl with both hands and loudly slurp up its contents.

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They Can Pickle That: 6 Picks for Restaurant Pickle Programs

Autumn is a great time of year for a foodie. But a bountiful harvest is also the first sign that winter is coming. So, how do you hold onto that bounty through the lean months? By pickling, of course! Many OpenTable restaurants have mastered the simplicity and economy that comes from making their own pickles, giving diners a range of newfound textures and flavors. Here are six picks for restaurant pickle programs that bring you harvest-time veggies all year round.

Miller Union, Atlanta, Georgia
“There are three basic ways of putting up pickles,” says chef Steven Satterfield of Atlanta’s Miller Union. “Natural fermentation, vinegar brine, and quick pickles. We do them all.”

Satterfield, author of the Root to Leaf cookbook, makes his Hilda’s Icebox Pickles based on his grandmother’s recipe using cucumbers and a cold vinegar brine. He uses a hot brine solution for sunchokes and radishes, and a full vinegar solution for pungent items like sweet Vidalia onions and shallots. [Photo by Kelly Blackmon]

Best Restaurant PIckle Programs

Jacob’s Pickles, New York, New York
In New York City, Jacob Hadjigeorgis has brought the Lower East Side pickling tradition to the Upper West Side, brining up everything from traditional dills to Thyme Jalapeño and Candy Red Beets pickles. The restaurant is host to a seasonal “Pickle Lab Series,” which currently features pickled fall vegetables, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, and okra.

Best Restaurant Pickle Programs

Brick & Bottle, Corte Madera, California
The Michelin Bib Gourmand-recommended eatery incorporates pickles into many of its dishes, from a diced pickled cabbage and onion, used as a topping for its hamburgers, to a composed pâté plate with multiple cured and pickled components. “We do not try to reinvent the wheel,” explains general manager Brandon Parkhurst. “Many of our cured dishes are takes on classics. However, what we do in our kitchen is take high-quality ingredients and treat them with the utmost care.”

Best Restaurant Pickle Programs

Iron Gate, Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, chef Anthony Chittum serves a tasting menu in their historic carriage house dining room, where the first course is a series of small tastes from the kitchen that always features something from their pickle pots. These can vary from bread and butter sunchokes, green beans and bird chilis, and zucchini, to name but a few. Many of the pickles are displayed in the dining room in jars that frame the open kitchen.[Photo by Samer Farha]

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National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day: Comfort in a Bowl Around the Globe

It’s no secret chicken soup is good for the soul. The nourishing broth, nutrient-dense veggies, and hearty noodles always do a body good, particularly at this time of year when cold and flu season is ramping up. So in honor of National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, we’re putting a fun twist on the expressive holiday and rounding up five kinds of chicken soup from around the world, upping the ante on canned Campbell’s — you can even find these soulful soups right here in the States.

Japanese Ramen
When most people think of ramen, their minds drift toward the cheap packets they ate during their college dorm days — or, if they’ve experienced authentic Japanese ramen, then likely to steaming bowls of noodle soup spiked with tender pork. But there’s also a version that relies on chicken stock—it’s called shio and shoyu ramen. And one of the best spots to try this curative soup is in Decatur, Georgia, at Makan, where the miso-based broth is simmered overnight for maximum depth of flavor. Each bowl is laced with Sun Noodles and topped with a soft poached egg, roasted pork belly, and seasonal vegetables.

National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Jewish Matzo Ball Soup
Though not technically from one specific country, the Jewish culture relies on restorative matzo ball soup around the world particularly on Passover or when a hint of a cold comes on (see penicillin, Jewish). Their version is a light chicken broth peppered with dumplings (they’re made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water and fat) and often veggies, such as onions, carrots, and celery. In San Francisco, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen simmers their broth for 12 hours with thyme, browned onions, vegetables, and chicken bones, adding schmaltz’d up matzo balls at service.

National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Thai Khao Soi
In Northern Thailand, street vendors throughout the region dish out a Burmese-influenced chicken soup called Khao Soi around every corner. The coconut curry-esque base (it’s similar in flavor to yellow or massaman curry) is brimming with fresh chicken, boiled egg noodles, pickled veggies, and shallots, and it is finished with crispy fried egg noodles, lime juice, and ground chiles. Head to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, New York, where James Beard Award winner Andy Ricker serves an authentic Khao Soi made with a from-scratch curry paste and house-pressed fresh coconut milk, alongside chicken, house-pickled mustard greens, and roasted chili paste.

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