We’re cooking up some of our favorite recipes! From pot pies to berry cobblers, all of these dishes include ingredients that you can hunt, fish or forage on public lands. To ensure the safety and well-being of our parks and visitors, please keep in mind the following guidelines as you use public lands as your pantry!
Hunting and fishing are outdoor activities with tasty results. Before you go after game or cast your line, check out our hunting and fishing guides so that you can make sure you’re following the rules, have the federal and state licenses you need and are keeping safe.
On many public lands, gathering natural, renewable products -- such as fruits, berries, nuts or sea shells -- is permitted, subject to certain conditions set by each location or state office. Be sure to check nps.gov, fws.gov, blm.gov or the websites of specific parks and national wildlife refuges for the most up-to-date information on availabilities and quantity limits before going to pick plants. Always make sure to properly identify plants before picking them, as some can be hazardous.
Now that you have the basics about hunting, fishing and foraging on public lands, check out public lands recipes from Interior employees for an inspiration for your next meal!
Brook Trout and Wildflower Tacos
These fresh fish tacos are an easy and delicious meal that can be made in the kitchen or on a campsite! Bureau of Land Management employee Emma Freeland recommends using brook trout for this recipe. These fish prefer small streams and ponds ranging from the northeastern United States to the Appalachian Mountains and west to Minnesota. Try casting a line at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Maine and Leopold Wetland Management District in Wisconsin to catch brook trout for these delectable tacos. We hope you enjoy this tasty treat!
3 brook trout
Mountain bluebells -- collect a sizeable handful of leaves and a small handful of flowers.
Violets -- collect a sizeable handful of leaves and a small handful of flowers
2 tablespoons butter
6 corn tortillas
4 ounces cream cheese
Handful of basil, stems removed
1 cup sweet potato, boiled, cooked and mashed with salt and pepper (optional)
1 avocado, sliced
Salt to taste
Clean the trout and salt lightly.
Pan fry them whole, skin on, in a skillet with the butter.
While the trout is cooking, assemble the tacos: layer cream cheese, sweet potato, basil, avocado, and just the leaves from the bluebells and violets on the tortillas.
When the fish are cooked through, remove from heat and delicately slide the fish off the bone. Put a small amount of trout in each taco.
Top the tacos with flowers.
Heat each taco briefly in a dry skillet to warm the tortilla.
Serve tacos open so you can see the flowers before you eat them.
Mixing sweet and savory is a recipe for success, and these duck bites do it perfectly. A sweet, juicy piece of pineapple perfectly complements the duck, and wrapping it all up in a piece of crispy bacon ties together the flavors into one perfect bite. There’s outstanding duck hunting at public lands across the country, so you can try out this mouthwatering-dish with duck from Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina or Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. These delicious bites are the creation of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee Hallie Rasmussen.
12 oz container of teriyaki marinade
20 oz can of pineapple chunks
1 - 2 packages of bacon (depending on how much duck you have)
Shish kabob skewers -- toothpicks also work but the skewers are easier to flip on the grill
Quarter your duck into bite-sized pieces and let soak in marinade -- preferably 24 hours if you have time.
Drain pineapple and place pieces into a bowl.
Wrap a piece of pineapple and a duck bite with a piece of bacon and place onto skewer. Repeat until all your duck meat is wrapped and skewered.
Grill skewers on low/medium heat until the bacon is cooked.
Remove from skewers and enjoy!
Wild Blackberry Cobbler
Indulge your sweet tooth with this dish. Blackberry cobbler is the perfect dessert to serve following any meal, and is quick and easy to make! With an abundance of berries to be found on public lands, it is also the perfect recipe to adapt for berries of all sorts. Spend a day picking your favorite berries at locations like Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana and Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation employee Audrey Rager is to thank for this wonderful dessert recipe.
4 cups wild blackberries
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
Optional: whipped cream or ice cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the stick of butter in a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Place in oven to melt the butter.
Mix berries and 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside.
Mix all remaining ingredients until lumps are gone.
When the butter is completely melted, remove dish from oven and pour batter over melted butter in dish. Spoon berry/sugar mixture on top of batter. Return baking dish to oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Aluuttagaaq - (Pronounced Aaah-Loo-Tah-Gawk)
This traditional Alaskan dish creates a savory meal that the whole family will love. Caribou is the featured ingredient, and it is served in a warm, creamy gravy over potatoes or rice. Great places to hunt for caribou are Steese National Conservation Area or Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. We appreciate Bureau of Indian Affairs employee Thomas Llanos sharing this delicious meal.
2 pounds fresh caribou
¾ cup of flour (divided)
½ onion, chopped into very small pieces
2-3 cups broth or water
1 cup cold water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cooking oil or 1 tablespoon of butter
Potatoes or rice (to be served on)
Cut caribou into bite-size pieces. Season meat with salt and pepper.
Coat with ¼ cup flour. Fry in hot oil or butter until browned.
Add onion, and continue cooking until onion is soft.
Cover with broth or water, and simmer on low temperature at least 30 minutes.
Mix remaining flour with cold water to make a heavy cream. Stir into meat mixture to make gravy.
Serve over potatoes or rice.
Curling up with a cup of warm, flowery tea is the perfect way to end a day spent at public lands. Woods Tea is a mix of all natural ingredients that not only taste good, but are good for you. Full of vitamins and health-inducing elements, the following recipe will help your body recharge to take on another day of adventuring in public lands.
You can adapt this recipe to your tastes. To get a more bitter flavor, use more coneflower petals or raspberry leaves. For a more aromatic and tart flavor, use more woods rose. To sweeten things up, try adding a spoonful or two of wildflower honey. This tasty tea recipe was created by Brendan Bombaci, a Bureau of Land Management employee.
Purple Coneflower petals
Woods Rose buds
Place equal parts of all ingredients in a fine-meshed cheesecloth or a tightly woven cloth teabag.
Steep in sub-boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
Elk and Pheasant Molcajete Mixto
Elk, pheasant and vegetables in a spicy sauce and served in a traditional stone bowl? That sounds awesome! This traditional dish can use game hunted on public lands across the western United States. It takes many steps to make, but the results are bubbling hot, beautiful and delicious. Paul and Katie White of the Bureau of Reclamation sent in this amazing recipe and suggest picking up a molcajete at your local mercado or online.
1 pound elk backstrap
1 pound pheasant breast fileted
½ pound elk sausage
2 jalapeno or serrano peppers
1 medium nopales (cactus leaf) or ¾ cup zucchini or yellow squash, sliced for grilling
½ large onion sliced in thin rings
3 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
2 whole green onions
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime quartered
½ pound queso fresco cheese, sliced thin
1 large molcajete lava bowl -- 6” diameter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with molcajete inside.
On the stovetop, drizzle olive oil in a large pan and brown sausage.
Add tomato paste, cumin, chili powder and garlic; simmer together briefly.
Add beef broth and allow to thicken over low to moderate heat.
On grill, lightly char peppers and green onions; set aside.
On grill, cook spineless nopales until soft (or lightly grill zucchini/squash).
Season elk and pheasant breast with salt and pepper.
On grill, sear elk to medium rare.
On grill, cook pheasant to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop cilantro, slice onion into thin rings, slice avocado into thin pieces.
Remove molcajete bowl from oven carefully using thick oven mitts and place on heat proof surface.
Immediately add sliced onions, half of the sauce from the pan and half the queso fresco; stir lightly.
Immediately add the elk, pheasant and nopales (or zucchini/squash) and cover with the remainder of the sauce. Toss lightly to coat the meat.
Top with the remaining queso fresco, avocado slices and cilantro.
Serve with warm tortillas and lime wedges to squeeze on top.
Chilkoot Trail Mac and Cheese
This rich and cheesey mushroom mac will have you cheesing all day! Mushrooms will add a fresh bite to this gooey pasta dish, and are an ingredient that can be found on many public lands, such as Alsea Falls Recreation Site in Oregon or Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Hike Chilkoot Trail at Alaska’s Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park to gather the mushrooms this macaroni is named after. Some mushrooms are dangerous to eat, so make sure to properly identify all mushrooms before consumption. A warm thank you to National Park Service employee Catherine Stewart for this magnificent mac.
1 pound of pasta
At least 10 oz of any kind of cheese (recommended: add a little cream cheese or american cheese to make it creamy)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste
Mustard to taste
As many mushrooms as you like, sauteed
Ingredients for topping:
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 cup butter
Salt and pepper
Parsley or other herbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Boil pasta to al dente and drain.
Melt butter in pot. Add flour, whisking constantly, and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat without letting it brown.
Add milk slowly, whisking the whole time. Add mustard and hot sauce, salt and pepper, and then start adding cheese. Mix continuously so it doesn’t stick!
Once the sauce is smooth, stir in the pasta, mix well, and put it in an 11 x 13 casserole dish.
Mix topping ingredients together and spread over the top of the pasta.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is browned.
Double Cereus Cactus Bread
This twist on banana bread is sharp! Cactus fruit will give you a sweet, yet tart bread that will be just as easy to bake as it is to enjoy. Gather your cactus fruits from Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument or Saguaro National Park and start baking this tasty treat! National Park Service Employee Charles Conner is the creative mastermind behind this recipe.
2-3 cups fruit pulp from several saguaro and organ pipe cactus fruit
1/4 cup of light vegetable oil
1 cup agave nectar
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup mesquite flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into bread pan.
Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Pheasant Pot Pie
This pot pie is a warm homestyle dish that the whole family will enjoy. A creamy sauce with savory pheasant and tender vegetables all contained in a flaky crust is best served hot out of the oven. Go hunting for pheasant at places like Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania, Schnell Ranch Recreation Area in North Dakota or Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, and get your oven preheating for dinner! Kathy Van Ningen, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, is the chef who came up with this wonderful recipe.
Ingredients for Crust:
2/3 cup shortening
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons celery salt
4 tablespoons water
Directions for Crust:
Cut shortening into flour and salt until mixture is crumbly.
Add water, a little at a time, tossing with a fork until moistened.
Gather pastry into a ball.
Roll out 2/3 of the dough to fit into a deep dish pie plate.
Reserve 1/3 of the dough for the top crust.
Ingredients for Filling:
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon chicken soup base
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ¾ cups water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cooked, cut-up pheasant
10 oz frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup cheddar cheese
Directions for Filling:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat butter/margarine over low heat until melted.
Stir in flour, onion flakes, soup base, salt and pepper until smooth.
Add water and milk, stirring constantly.
Heat to boiling and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
Stir in pheasant, vegetables and cheese.
Remove from heat and pour into prepared crust in the pie plate.
Roll out reserved dough and place over the top of filling, crimping edges.
Cut five slits in the top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until browned.
Venison Korean Bulgogi Wraps
Bulgogi means “fire meat” and is a traditional Korean dish. Often made with beef or pork, this recipe calls for venison. Wrapped in lettuce or cabbage, bulgogi is a wonderful combination of flavor and texture. Deer hunting is a popular activity on public lands in the fall and early winter. This tasty meat treat recipe comes from Todd Wynn in the Intergovernmental and External Affairs Office.
2 pounds venison backstrap sliced into thin medallions
2 tablespoons Asian plum sauce
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 cloves of garlic, mashed and chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
3 hot chiles, chopped finely
½ cup mirin or rice wine
½ cup soy sauce
Large head of lettuce or cabbage
Mix everything except the venison and lettuce/cabbage in a bowl and stir together to make marinade.
Place venison in a gallon freezer bag and pour in the marinade.
Seal the bag and leave in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Grill meat on both sides until lightly browned on the outside.
Use lettuce or cabbage as wraps.
Feel free to add chopped red peppers, cilantro and sriracha for more flavor.
3 pounds salted salmon (Flush salmon with fresh water three times a day for two days before serving, keeping cool)
48 fluid ounces virgin oil
2 cups fresh onions
1 cup fresh garlic or 2 cups of minced garlic
½ cup oregano
1 cup chopped Jalapenos
1 cup jalapeno juice
Crackers for serving
Cream cheese for serving
Dice salmon into small pieces.
Mix all other ingredients in bowl, mixing salmon in slowly.
Marinate (recommended: 12 hours).
Spread cream cheese on crackers and top off with a dab of salmon.
Wild Turkey Fresh Spring Rolls
Turkey spring rolls are a healthy and delicious option for your next meal. Fresh vegetables and turkey are ingredients that can be found on public lands, and are incredible together when wrapped up in these spring rolls. Join in on the spring turkey hunting season at places like Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana, Buffalo National River in Arkansas or Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in New York. Thanks to Daniel Ryan, a Bureau of Land Management employee, for cooking up this recipe!
12 round sheets rice paper
3 lettuce leafs, quartered
3 cups fresh broccoli sprouts or alfalfa sprouts
36 small julienne-cut carrot strips
36 small julienne-cut cucumber strips
36 small julienne-cut yellow bell pepper strips
2 pounds shredded roast turkey breast
36 fresh mint leaves
Optional: soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
Add hot water to a large, shallow dish to a depth of 1 inch.
Place 1 rice paper sheet in dish; let stand 30 seconds or just until soft.
Remove and place rice paper sheet on a flat surface.
Arrange 1 lettuce piece in center of sheet. Top with 1/4 cup sprouts, 3 carrot strips, 3 cucumber strips, 3 bell pepper strips, 3 mint leaves and handful of shredded turkey.
Fold sides of sheet over filling; roll up jelly-roll fashion.
Gently press seam to seal.
Place spring roll, seam side down, on a serving platter. Serve with side of soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.
These mouthwatering recipes showcase just a few of the many tasty resources our public lands have to offer. What public lands ingredient will you bring back to your kitchen?