Ben Lubchansky is at a disadvantage as a hunter, but has a clear advantage preparing a Thanksgiving meal using wild turkey or venison for and with his family.
“Everyone helps out, including my wife, Kate, and our three children, especially River Penn, who has killed a turkey, but I missed mine,” Ben said.
Ben has been hunting fewer than 10 years, but he’s been a chef preparing and delivering meals in the Madison area for 10 years and many more in other areas well before that.
Their company, 608 Community Supported Kitchen, is a subscription, meal delivery service where families purchase monthly meals out of Mazomanie in Dane County. It is similar to CSA, Community Supported Agriculture in that regard.
Members get two different delivered meals a week, on Tuesdays, packed in returnable containers costing about $30 per week.
Now the hunting and Thanksgiving dinner connection. Chef Lubchansky and his family alternate Thanksgivings at home and with Kate’s family. On odd years, such as 2021, Ben zeros in on wild turkey or venison, both of which he and the family hunt.
If it’s turkey, Ben roasts the turkey and takes the meat off the carcass and makes a stock, turns that into a gravy, shreds the meat and eventually has turkey and gravy over dressing and potatoes, usually sweet and white. Making the stock may occur in May with the meal in November.
The venison is sometimes bone-in rack of venison.
“I butcher the deer, bone-in, with the bones protecting the meat from excessive heat,” Ben said.
It blows Ben’s mind that hunters will throw away half the wild turkey.
“All of it is exceptionally good. I go out of my way to use every part of the bird,” he said.
The children all help out in the kitchen.
One of the best venison meals is a young of the year deer, Ben says.
“I take a leg of lamb type of cut off the hind quarter and roast it rare like lamb. I have some bias toward small deer for this meal. With older deer, we wouldn’t roast an entire leg at one time,” he said.
Ben takes the tenderloins out of the carcass immediately. In this case, less is more.
The process is to season the loin, cook it hot and fast in a cast iron skillet, cooked whole, about 3.5 minutes per side, and then rest the meat, and cut off half inch medallions.
Venison or turkey Thanksgiving dinners are not exactly hunt the turkey or deer in the morning and eat at 6 p.m., but they could be close. Both are available during gun deer season, which is where Thanksgiving always falls.