I am fortunate enough to know a few hunters in the area. Believe it or not, most of them have no idea how to properly butcher! I usually get phone calls throughout the hunting season, to come and help teach hunters how to break down the different cuts and how to get a better yield. I enjoy it. I am always happy to share techniques and ideas. After all, someone took the time to teach me. I have a couple of close friends that are butchers. If you were to ask them what muscle is their favorite, it would most likely be the neck. It has a great ratio of meat to fat. It's also very versatile. I was gifted the whole neck (and then some) for helping out a friend of mine. Some of the first ingredients that come to mind when preparing wild game, are wild edibles. There is something so natural about cooking things that reside in the same habitat. We had some dried yellow foot chanterelles from last summer that seemed perfect for this recipe. I use the term "recipe" loosely in this particular story, as it is more of something that I threw together using what I had laying around. I hope to inspire someone out there to do the same. However, I will be sharing the cooking technique of how we pulled off this beautiful roulade!
The stuffing was made out of sautéed onions, roasted garlic, thyme, rosemary, rehydrated yellow foot mushrooms, chestnuts & Madeira wine. We bought the chestnuts that were already peeled and ready to go (we usually roast our own, but we have three kids, give me a pass!). You can buy them at specialty stores or online. We seared the chestnuts in the pan in butter before we added the onions and it landed a deeper flavor to the stuffing. We then added the mushrooms and cooked for a minute or so to develop more flavor. Then we added roasted garlic and deglazed the pan with the Madeira and cooked it all the way down. After that, we added a bit of the water that we used to rehydrate the mushrooms and cooked that down as well. Then we added a knob of butter and the chopped fresh herbs. Easy as that. There was no bread in this particular "stuffing". Don't get me wrong, I am always pro-bread, we just didn't have any. It is stuffed into the neck, so it is technically "stuffing".
We used a touch of transglutaminase on the edges of the meat to adhere both the roulade to itself, as well as the bacon to the exterior. Transglutaminase, also known as TG or "meat glue" keeps the roulade from coming apart once cooked. I have used this ingredient in many professional kitchens. TG is a naturally occurring enzyme in plants, animals, and bacteria. Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts in chemical reactions; they speed up reactions and make reactions occur that otherwise wouldn’t. Confusing? Some people freak out when they here the words meat glue, because some chefs that have no idea about safety and sanitation use it to stick together scrap meats and form them into "steaks" which to me, is both appalling and uncalled for. When used properly, I see no issues with it. After all, if you love Turkey sandwiches, or cold cuts from the deli, you have been eating it your whole life. We got this product online. For more factual information on this product we provided a couple links at the bottom of the story from the International Culinary Center and the huffington post.
Back to the recipe. Pack the stuffing into one edge of the butterflied meat and roll it over onto itself, nice and tight. Make sure that the dusted edges overlap each other.
This is New Hampshire cob smoked bacon. It is a little too thick for what we needed so we stuck it in between two pieces of plastic wrap and flattened it with a meat hammer. We used bacon to this recipe, to add some well needed fat to the lean neck meat during the cooking process. It also adds a ton of delicious smokey flavor.
Roll the bacon around the roulade and lightly dust the edges of the bacon with transglutaminase.
Once you follow the instructions above, lay down a couple layers of plastic wrap, side by side, until you have enough to generously wrap the roulade. Then roll the bacon wrapped neck in the plastic wrap as tight as you can. Leave a good amount of plastic wrap on both sides of the roulade. Pinch both sides of the plastic wrap and roll the hell out of it until it is tight. Using more plastic wrap (about a 8 inch piece), tie one edge of the roulade tight with a regular knot. Then repeat the process on the second side making sure that the roulade is tight on both sides. (this is to form the meat into a cylinder so that it cooks evenly) From here, we sniped off the excess plastic wrap (as pictured above) and cryovaced the roulade in a foodsaver bag and cooked sous vide at 138 degrees F, for 36 hours. Set it and forget it! This allows the meat to break down and tenderize, while keeping the meat pink and juicy, cooked medium.
Feel free to post your questions below. The finished product was glazed and juicy. The consistency and texture of the meat was tender and delicious.
Although this is recipe is not for beginners, it is a stunning display of how to utilize the neck of any animal. We will be posting more simple recipes on neck muscles as well as other "off cuts". We just wanted to share this badass technique. We hope to inspire you! Cheers.
Here are the links for further information on transglutaminase.