#039;Joy of Cooking#039; co-author shares wild game cooking tips

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2002

Most Americans have treasured family recipes handed down from mothers and grandmothers. Ethan Becker, an accomplished hunter and outdoorsman, is no exception.

His hunting buddies' eyes light up when they talk about the meals he cooks at hunting camp. Becker, you see, is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. And those family recipes? They aren't on cards and scraps of paper in a kitchen drawer. They, and many of his own, make up "Joy of Cooking" that timeless book credited with being the most influential cookbook in American history. Chances are good that there's one in your kitchen.

"The first time Ethan hunted with us," Will Fennell of Camillus Knives said, "we thought we might be served some fancy food."

It was a normal assumption upon learning that a real chef would be doing the cooking. But Becker adapts to his audience.

"When he's in hunting camp, he cooks what he knows hunters like," Fennel said. "Meat and potatoes. Except, they don't taste like normal meat and potatoes. I don't know what he does or how he does it, but they are unbelievably delicious!"

Becker will share his wild game cooking secrets at the ninth annual Buckmasters Expo August 16-18 in Montgomery, Ala., where he will be displaying a line of his BK&T outdoorsman knives by Camillus.

A "Joy of Cooking" book signing is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 16 from 5 p.m. to

7 p.m. at the Camillus booth. Books will be available for purchase at that time. During the rest of the show, Becker will be available to autograph books that fans bring from home.

"Joy of Cooking" has become so famous that most people refer to it by its first name: "Joy." Famed cook Julia Child said it's the one book she'd keep if she could only have one English title on the shelf. National Review tapped it as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. The New York Times called it "A book so close to the hearts of Americans that it is still a perennial wedding gift, and even in kitchens stocked with vast cookbook collections it remains the smudged and sticky bible."

More than 12 million copies have been sold since Becker's then-recently widowed grandmother, Irma S. Rombauer, "Granny Rom" to Becker, wrote and self-published the first edition in 1931 during the depths of the Great Depression. Her daughter,

Marion Rombauer Becker, took over when his grandmother died in 1964. When his mother passed away in 1976, Becker became co-author.

When asked about tips for cooking venison, Becker recommends serving grilled venison back straps with a fruit and wine-based sauce.

And how about venison hamburgers?

"For hamburgers," Becker said, "I always mix one-half pound of pork sausage with each one-half pound of meat."

If you don't eat it all, don't throw it away.

"Chili from some of those leftovers was some of the best I've ever made," he explained.

There are many more tips for cooking venison in "Joy of Cooking."