Serving Game for the Holidays

Serving Game for the Holidays
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Many families traditionally serve wild game on or around the holidays. I remember living on our farm when I was a child and eating pheasant, rabbit and venison. If you have a hunter in the family you might serve game often, or it may be a special dish only served on special occasions.
Whatever your tradition, we found these recipes from 1940 through 1960, as an alternative to the classic roast turkey.

Roasting Birds

A simple technique for roasting game birds is as follows: Clean, truss and stuff the bird. Place in a roasting pan in a moderate oven (350 degrees) until meat is tender and bird is well browned. Baste every half hour with butter, or wine. You can stuff the bird with a traditional stuffing, or place fresh herbs and garlic in the cavity without a stuffing. The bird will take longer to roast if stuffed. Another option is to lay bacon sliced across the top of the bird before roasting. Basting is important however, to keep the bird from drying out.

Pheasant with Wild-Rice Stuffing


3 pounds prepared pheasant

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup diced celery

1/4 cup diced onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp. dried

1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (button mushrooms work fine, or other varieties can be used)

1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (if you can substitute white or brown rice)

2-3 bacon slices

Rinse pheasant; pat dry. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slowly melt butter in medium skillet. Add onion, celery, mushrooms and parsley. Sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients, except the bacon., tossing with a fork. Spoon stuffing into the cavity of the bird and truss (see note). Place on rack in shallow roasting pan; place bacon slices over the top of the breast. Roast 2 hours; basting occasionally with pan drippings. To serve: Remove pins and twine. Spoon stuffing into a serving dish. Cut pheasant in half or quarter; arrange on platter. Serves 3-4.

Note: To truss a bird you can tie a piece of kitchen string to the end of the neck skin and pull it over the back. Slip the ends of the wings over the back and press them close to the body. Press the thighs close to the body, draw ends of the twine back on each side and up over the thighs. Cross the twine between the legs and tie it down under the tail.

Braised Rabbit


2 One pound Rabbits, prepared and sectioned

3 bacon slices

1/4 cup thinly sliced onion

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 sprigs fresh parsley

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. dried basil, or 2 tsp. fresh

1/2 tsp. dried oregano or 2 tsp. fresh

1 cup canned tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup red wine

Rinse rabbit pieces well and pat dry. In large heavy skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, sauté bacon until crisp. Drain well on paper towels , crumble and set aside. In same skillet, in the drippings, sauté the rabbit until nicely browned on all sides. Remove from the heat. Add remaining ingredients, along with bacon; mix well. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 45 minutes to one hour, or until tender. Remove to heated platter. Spoon pan juices over rabbit. Serves 6-8.


There are so many recipes for venison, and everyone has a different preference. Some people soak the venison in salted water for 5-6 hours and drain, to remove the "game" taste. Others cook as is, and love it that way. This recipe can be used regardless of preparation.

Venison Steaks


2 venison steaks

2 cups flour

salt and pepper to taste

One large can tomatoes, undrained

2 medium onions, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

oil or fat

Place two cups or so of flour in a pie tin, season with salt and pepper. Coat each steak with flour. Place oil or bacon fat in skillet; brown steaks. Add tomatoes, onions, parsley, and garlic. Simmer for 45 minutes, until done and tender. 4-5 servings.

More venison tips

Venison steaks can also be grilled or broiled. I have run across several recipes and tips. A 1942 cookbook advised that venison takes about 3 minutes longer than beef steak. If the taste of venison is too strong it may help to marinate in oil mixed with lemon juice. I think garlic would be a good addition to that too. One serving recommendation was to use a mixture of equal parts of butter and current jelly spread on steaks.


Back to The Holiday Index!


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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