Generosity of Heart is What Great Food Is Made Of

A common misconception is that amazing food needs fancy cookware and the latest kitchen technologies. The appearance of a kitchen does not necessarily dictate the quality of the food coming out of it. Don’t think that a makeshift kitchen with an oven door that doesn’t close quite right is less capable of producing restaurant quality food than a kitchen full of trained chefs. Sometimes meals cooked over a simple campfire are the most delicious. It is the ingredients, love, respecting and honoring the food every step of the way and good company that makes for the most memorable eating experiences.

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The equipment used in said kitchen does not need to have the fanciest All-Clad or Le Creuset cookware to make awesome food, even if cooking shows might have you believe otherwise. I prefer cooking with cast iron pots because they provide even heat distribution, a non-stick surface and are significantly cheaper than other brands of cookware. A good pot will serve you well and last a lifetime. Instead of spending money on the latest kitchen gadget or technology, put that money aside to invest in quality cookware. Until then love the pots and pans you have and value their role in your kitchen. Simple ingredients, simple kitchen setup, basic tools with lots of love, equals amazing food.

There have been numerous cookbooks published about one-pot meals. They speak to simplicity and convenient recipes for delicious home cooked food. This Valentine’s Day will be the first in many years that I will not be cooking in a restaurant kitchen. Service industry workers often work these holidays when others are spending time with their loved ones. It is important to always appreciate the time we have with loved ones and be grateful of the many working hands that bring food to our tables.

This past week a hunter from Six Nations gave me a deer to share. This Valentine’s Day recipe is inspired by his generosity of heart. I wanted to share something deep in flavor and a bit unexpected. Chocolate isn’t only for dessert. Cooking with chocolate can add depth and richness to a dish. When paired with game meat, the warm and slightly bitter taste of cocoa pairs well with the earthy notes of deer.

Chocolate Deer Ragù

This dish can be served on its own or with a flavor carrier of your choice (spaghetti squash, rice, pasta). This time of year I’d likely serve it with squash gnocchi. If you’d like a recipe for the gnocchi please email me at


  1. Cooking oil
  2. Deer shoulder or leg meat on or off the bone
  3. Onions
  4. Canned tomatoes
  5. Bay leaf
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Bitter Dark chocolate or cocoa powder (28g or 1oz per pound of meat)


  • Season and sear the meat as you would for a braise (see article on how to braise on
  • Remove meat and add more oil if necessary
  • Add diced onions and bay leaf and cook until onions are translucent
  • De-glaze the pot with a small amount of water (or vegetable/meat stock) and add canned tomatoes
  • Add cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Place meat back in pot, cover 3/4 in liquid adding more stock or water as needed, cover and cook on the stove on medium-low or in a 350F oven until tender to the fork
  • Remove bone if you have it bone on
  • Let cool slightly and stir in the desired amount of chocolate
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste


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