Anthony Caturano, chef and owner of Prezza in the North End, has been an avid hunter for years, particularly focusing on big game like elk and moose. While the law doesn't permit him to serve his game at the restaurant, his love of it comes through on the menu, particularly during hunting season — keep an eye out for venison, rabbit, and more. For The Five Days of Meat, here's Caturano on hunting.
How did you get started hunting?
When I was a kid, my dad took me out a couple times with some of his friends. I did quite a bit locally — New Hampshire, Vermont, a little bit in Massachusetts — when I was younger. As I got older and opened the restaurant and had a little more cash in my pocket, I was able to do some bigger trips out west — Canada, Montana, Alaska — and it just kind of grew from there. I really got into it. Being outside and the adventure of it is what's always drawn me.
What's your favorite type of game to hunt?
I used to like the bigger game, like the elk-hunting out west, but the older I get, I really just like it all — getting out there and just being able to do it. I don't really have a favorite quite as much anymore.
Do you have a favorite to cook and eat?
Definitely the elk or the deer.
While you can't sell what you hunt at the restaurant, does it influence the way you create the menu?
During the hunting season, since I'm around it a lot, we definitely buy a lot of farm-raised game like rabbit, duck, quail, venison — they always pop up on the menu in the fall.
Do you find that Boston diners are fairly interested in game, or do you feel like it takes some education to get them to try these things?
I think there are certain people that really do enjoy it, and those are the ones that always seem to order it, but as far as trying to educate people on it, it can be a little tough in Boston. People are either willing to do it or they don't really want much to do with it at all.
What are some styles of game dishes you'd recommend in the warmer weather?
Well, in the wintertime I like to do more stews, bolognese, but in the summertime, I think the steaks are better. Grilled things, sausages...a lighter style, a little more simple. Sometimes we'll go duck hunting and make duck chorizo.
What's your favorite hunting memory?
There are so many! Probably my first true experience out west. We were out there on horseback for maybe two weeks. No contact outside — no phone, no radio, nothing like that. Just you and a couple guys and a couple horses with supplies for two weeks. I think the first time I did that, I was kind of amazed that you could still get out there like that. You don't see that here — that big expansion of land like in British Columbia and Alaska.
If you were talking to somebody who had never hunted before but wanted to get started here in the Massachusetts area, what would you advise?
Well, in Massachusetts, you have to take a hunter's safety course — that's mandatory. It's a good way to start as a lot of times, those safety courses will also talk about local hunting in general. There's a lot of public land that you can hunt on. Local gun clubs are also a good way to get started, meeting people that have similar interests.
Anything else you want people to know about hunting?
Just get out there and try it before you judge it. It's a good way to get outside and interact with nature and get back to the way that things were years ago, going out and getting your own food — butchering it and taking care of it and keeping a supply of it.
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