Venison, it’s what’s for dinner

Posted on: October 14, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Shaw 2Hank Shaw is a chef who became a hunter.

You never know how things are going to turn out.

Hank Shaw was a fisherman and a forager when he started working at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He’d never hunted, though, until a friend there got him started.

“Let’s say he created a monster,” Shaw said.

All those who enjoy the taste of wild game skillfully prepared have benefitted since.

Shaw no longer covers politics for the newspaper. Instead, he’s a chef and food blogger, and an outstanding one at that.

He’s twice been nominated for James Beard awards – considered the Oscars of the culinary world – and won once for his blog, Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook.

His most recent project is one every western Pennsylvania sportsman should be able to appreciate. Shaw recently published “Buck, Buck, Moose,” a cookbook full of recipes applicable to whitetails and every other form of venison on the planet.

The cookbook – his third, and most successful to date — is the culmination of two years worth of exploration. Shaw calls himself a “chef who hunts.”

“So I did a lot of research about how other countries cook their deer,” he said.

The result is recipes not only for traditional dishes, like chili, lasagna and backstraps, but others with ties to Pakistan, South Africa, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and other far flung locales.

“You can get as exotic as you want to,” Shaw said.

“There are a lot of dishes in there that never crossed my mind until I discovered them. It was like, ‘they do that?’”

All of the recipes are ones that home cooks can recreate, though, he said. He tests them with readers of his blog to be sure. That’s why some recipes include possible substitutes for hard-to-get ingredients, so that anyone anywhere can make them.

“It’s very important to me to have recipes that work in a normal kitchen,” Shaw said. “After all, there are only so many backstraps on a deer. You don’t want to mess up something you worked so hard to get.”

Shaw’s book is available on Amazon here and at his website here.

Foodies can also get a signed copy and enjoy a meal of venison prepared by Shaw at 6 p.m. on Sunday at Eleven, the restaurant located at 1150 Smallman St. in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Details are available by clicking here or by calling 412-201-5656. Reservations are required.

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Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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