Killin’, Grillin’, and Belly Fillin’

If you happen to be near Ennis, Montana on the Friday afternoon just prior to opening day, your mouth will begin to water from the savory smoke that fills the air. Follow your nose and grumbling gut right down the middle of Main Street. Once there, feast your eyes on and tickle your taste buds with some of the best wild-game dishes ever created. Creative chuck-wagon cookies and culinary craftsmen lend their touches to everything from down-home comfort food to haute cuisine. A gastronomical event of this caliber could only be Ennis’s Annual Hunters Feed and Wild Game Cook-Off.

The event originally started as a way to free up freezer space in anticipation of a bountiful season. Informal at its conception, the feed was a way for townsfolk, neighbors, and visiting hunters to swap stories, drink a few beers, and trade recipes. In recent years “The Feed” has become a full-fledged event, with local merchants doling out elk chili, pheasant with mushroom sauce, moose meatballs, and other amazing dishes from almost all of Montana’s various game species. There is a bit of pressure on the chefs as well; bragging rights are at “steak.” Diners at The Feed vote for the best overall dish, and a panel of judges selects other category winners. Although some of the purveyors of this fine wild grub are stingy with their recipes, others post the ingredients right in front of their cook stations.

This year’s Hunters Feed and Wild Game Cook-Off will be on Friday, October 19, from 3-5 pm on Main Street in Ennis. For more information contact The Ennis Chamber of Commerce at (406) 682-4388.

Wild Game Recipes

In case you are unable to attend this year’s event, here are a couple of fantastic game recipes for you to try.

Speed Goat Surprise

11/2 pounds ground antelope
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 slices Cajun-style bacon
3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Mix garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, barbeque sauce, vinegar, and pepper together. Thoroughly mix meat, salt, Cajun seasoning, and pepper together. Shape into six patties. Place patties into marinating dish and pour garlic sauce mixture over the patties. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour to 45 minutes, occasionally turning.

Remove patties from marinade. Wrap bacon slice around each patty; secure with toothpick. Place patties on greased grill at low to medium-low setting for 10 minutes each side, or charcoal grill over good coals and hickory smoking chips for 10-12 minutes each side. Flip patties only once to retain juiciness. Serve with fresh garden salad and home-fries for a complete meal.

Southwestern Marinated Elk Kabobs

1 elk tenderloin, or 4 elk round steaks, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon taco seasoning
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup cooking oil
¼ cup Cazadores Tequila
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
Cherry tomatoes
Fresh mushrooms
Onion wedges
Mini sweet peppers

Thoroughly mix Tequila, Worcestershire, ketchup, and juice. Place meat pieces into marinating dish. Pour marinade over meat and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Skewer meat and alternating veggies. Cook on greased grill at low to medium-low for 5-10 minutes each side or grill over hot coals on a charcoal grill with indirect heat for 10-12 minutes each side. Serve with cold Coronas and chips and salsa.

The Ennis Stroll: Spirit of Christmas 2007

On December 7, come experience Ennis during an old-fashioned Christmas Stroll from 3-8 pm. Merchants will stay open late and hand out Christmas treats for all. Pictures with Santa, Christmas stories for children, roasted chestnuts, live music, special gallery events—these are just some of the festive events planned. Afterward, take the family down to the Lions Club Park by the Madison River, which will be lit for the holiday season. Make a fun night of it with local hotels and restaurants, see a movie in the quaint downtown theatre, and visit historic Virginia City for their Christmas Socials. For more info, call the Ennis Chamber of Commerce at (406) 682-4388 or visit

-Kurt Dehmer