Wild Food Foraging: Hunting Wild Game and Wild Game Recipes

James E. Churchill shares his food foraging tips for hunting wild game and recipes for wild greens, pigeon, deer, and snapping turtle.

| November/December 1971

Late fall can be a busy time for the wild food forager. This is the season for walnuts and many fruits and is the time that I plant dandelions and chicory in boxes to be brought inside for the winter garden. Then I'll find and use whatever green plants are still around while I lay in the winter's supply of meat.

One good "greens" that probably is still harvestable is purslane, (Porlulaca Oleracea), a vine-like, always-tender plant with small elliptical leaves. Purslane was originally grown in India for a vegetable and was introduced to this country by the early settlers. It's quite fond of growing in cultivated soil and is found in almost every garden here in Wisconsin. I frequently find all the purslane I want in a field corn row where it quite happily adapts to the rich soil.

Harvest the plant by pulling it up and cutting off the roots and dead leaves. Wash the purslane then, and use scissors to trim the small branches and leaves away from the large central stalk. Discard the stalk or save it for pickles.

Purslane Wild Greens Recipes

Purslane is one of my favorite "frying greens." After I've trimmed and washed the plants as outlined above I drop approximately a double tablespoon of bacon grease in a frying pan and turn the heat to medium. When the grease is melted and sizzling slightly I stir in the greens. I then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the purslane is well wilted and some of the smaller leaves are turning brown. I remove the pan then and set it aside under a cover so the purslane will keep warm until I'm ready to eat.

Fried purslane like this will make a complete meal. The dish is even more nourishing and hearty tasting with some hickory nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or toasted soybeans sprinkled into the greens as you fry them. You may even want to toast the nuts for a few minutes in the bacon grease first before you add the purslane. I can make a lunch of this nut-and-fried-greens combination and it will sustain me very well until the evening meal, even when I'm working hard.

Purslane has the ability to thicken soups in somewhat the same way as okra and I would like to outline a hearty "early winter soup" that will warm body and soul during this brisk season of the year.

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