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Cheaters’ Wild Pork Ribs

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There are days when just getting out of bed seems like a major achievement.  As I stagger to the kitchen whimpering for a cup of coffee,  a pile of bills waits for me on the table.  I wade through waist-deep laundry to get to the the freezer room (yes, we have a freezer room! My husband is the Deerslayer, remember.) to decide what to fix for dinner.  I stare, bleary-eyed, at the contents,  waiting for something to jump out at me, something so easy to prepare that I can whip it up in no time and still come out looking like a Homemaker Extraordinaire.   Do you have days like that, too?

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon something that fills the bill, if you will.  A couple of years ago, Deerslayer had a great year hunting wild pigs.  There was plenty of very welcome wild pork to fill our freezers.  We ground a whole bunch of it, and had several roasts and tenderloins.  I was a happy camper.  Deerslayer asked if he should keep the ribs.  Keep in mind that wild pork ribs aren’t the same size as the ones you get at the market, much smaller.  But, what the hell, said I!  So we packaged up quite a mess of ribs, as well.

I’d been wondering for a while if I could cook the ribs in the oven like I did in my post from March 22, 2013, freeze them, label them, and toss them on the pit just long enough to impart the smoky goodness at the last minute. I decided to give it a shot.

I seasoned the pork ribs very liberally with Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix, tossed them in my covered roasting pan with a can of Dr. Pepper poured over, and braised them for approximately a couple of hours at 350 degrees, turning occasionally, until the meat just about fell off the bone.

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I was able to pull the bones right out of the ribs.  The slabs stayed intact, however. Sorry for the bad lighting.  The meat wasn’t quite that grey.

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Then I packaged up the fully-cooked meat, labeled it, and tossed it in the freezer.

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When I was ready for a speedy, great dinner, I thawed out the meat, started some charcoal in the BBQ pit and worked on my side dishes (red bell peppers to grill, some garlic to roast, and some cole slaw).

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I put the ribs on the grill just long enough to heat them through, and slathered them with my favorite BBQ sauce.  I tossed some red bell peppers on as well after I removed the seeds, opened up the peppers to lie flat, rubbed them with olive oil, and added some Salt & Pepper mix .

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Meanwhile, back in the kitchen,  I took a slew of garlic cloves (pre-peeled from Sam’s Club), tossed ’em in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, and allowed them to roast until lightly browned and soft. Pretty damned tasty!  Most of them were eaten right out of the skillet before I could even get a picture!

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The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions (and Tomato Soup!)

DSC_0090Ah, dear readers!  My intention was to have this post ready to go in time for Lent. It was perfect for Lent (and I suppose it still is). Things came up, however, that prevented me from fulfilling my obligation to get ‘er done… too many things to mention. Sometimes we just have put our frivolous fancies on the back burner for while. That’s what I did.  I hope that no one broke any Lenten promise because they simply didn’t have the perfect tomato soup recipe.  The burden will weigh heavily on my mind (for a little while).

At this point, I guess I will simply switch gears and let you know that this soup recipe will also be perfect for a lovely  Mother’s Day treat. Perhaps a nice grilled cheese sandwith, bowl of delicious soup and a delightful fluted glass of Prosecco.  I know I’d be good with that!   Or a bowl of soup would be a wonderful introduction to a fabulous seared venison, nilgai, or elk tenderloin with balsamic glaze and some roasted asparagus. If you are a mom, point this out to your nearest and dearest Deerslayer.  If you are the Deerslayer, you know what you have to do!

Everyone needs a really great tomato soup recipe.  I’ve never been a fan of canned tomato soup.  And some of the restaurant specialties have as much cream and butter as tomatoes!  I looked through many recipes, tried a few, tweeked those a bit, and ended up with a nice tomato soup recipe that pleased all members of the Deerslayer household.  And it’s pretty darned good for you, too.  It has become my go-to recipe for tomato soup.  I believe all households should have one.  The addition of garlic and balsamic vinegar send it right over the top.  I hope it becomes your go-to recipe, as well, with some tweeking to make it your own.

Really Good Tomato Soup

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As I scrutinized my reference photo, it became apparent that other items on my counter might have caused confusion.  This recipe DOES NOT have otats, rice, beans, or fiber cereal in the list of ingredients.  Sorry about that!   

a splash of olive oil

½ an onion, chopped*

1 stalk celery, chopped*

1 large carrot, chopped*

2-3 cloves of chopped garlic*

2 bay leaves

1 small can tomato paste

2 tbs. flour

2 small cans of diced tomatoes or one big one(approx 28-32 oz. total)

3 cups chicken stock (or duck, goose,  or pheasant, etc.) You get the picture.

1 tsp. white pepper (White pepper is a whole different flavor.  It’s worth a try. Black pepper can be substituted, though.)

1-2 tbsp. sugar 

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions, celery, carrots, and bay leaves. DSC_0086.JPG

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 Stir until onions are soft and translucent.

Add garlic and continue stirring, being careful not to let garlic burn. Turn heat down to medium.

Add tomato paste.  Mash it in with the veg, and allow to cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour for another minute or two. Pour in the tomatoes, stir well, then stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat.  Add pepper, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove bay leaves.  Use an immersion blender to produce a smooth soup, if desired.

Garnish with sour cream, toasted pumpkin seeds, or whatever your heart desires.

*

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Don’t forget to save all the trimmed off bits for making a delicious, homemade stock.  Put all the bits into a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and store in the freezer.  Add to the bag until it is full of carrot, celery, onion, and garlic scraps that can be thrown into a large stock pot with water for stock.  Bones can be added, too.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2016 in Recipes, Uncategorized

 

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Skip the Valentine’s Day Hype! Just Make Cherry Pie!

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Let me say this right up front.  The Deerslayer household DOES NOT subscribe to the Hallmark-induced Valentine’s Day hype.  There is nothing romantic or sweet about flowers, candy, jewelry, cards and restaurant menus that have suddenly, inexplicably doubled in price.  Puzzling, yes.  Romantic and sweet, no! Even grocers raise the price of steaks, seafood, sparkling wines.  What the hell?  I have no doubt that St. Valentine is spinning in his grave over this travesty.

To honor St. Valentine and the spirit of the day, we will sear up some nilgai tenderloin, roast some asparagus, prepare a nice salad, and finish the evening off with some homemade cherry pie….. on February 16th!  In my book, nothing says “I love you” like nilgai tenderloin done right, beautiful seared color on the outside, juicy and oh-so-pink on the inside.

Also, Junior Deerslayer had been wanting to try her hand at baking a cherry pie.  Since my New Year’s Resolutions included both branching out with my cooking AND never passing up a worthy dessert, honoring the request to try the pie was easy. Don’t get the wrong idea.  We didn’t go outside to pick the cherries, nor did we render the fat necessary to produce the lard needed for the perfect crust.  But I did purchase the (canned) cherries from our local grocer, refer to my NEW Lard Cookbook (yes, there is such a thing) for the perfect flaky-crust recipe, use some kettle-rendered leaf lard that I received as a birthday gift (really) and commence with the pie making!

I ordered mine from Amazon but it’s available from a number of booksellers.

I was able to find canned, tart cherries, packed in water. So that was our starting point. One of my intentions for 2016 has been to practice making flaky crusts from scratch for fruit pies, quiches, pot pies, empanadas and pasties (meat pies).  Hands down, people who know pies know that lard makes the flakiest crust.  Leaf lard is the prized fat around the kidney area of an animal. I found some available online.  I was surprised by how light it was and what a beautiful, smooth dough it made.

Cherry Pie with Lard Crust

3 cans tart cherries in water, drained (water set aside)
1 to 1½ cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
zest from one orange

Your favorite prepared pie crust or pie crust recipe for 2 crust pie. This one is from the Lard Cookbook:

2½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour plus more for dusting, 2 tsp. salt, 1 cup cold and coursely chopped lard, 6 tablespoons ice cold water

1½ tablespoons butter, to dot

1 egg, beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon granulated or raw sugar, to sprinkle

For the crust, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut in the lard until the mixture is a very fine crumble. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and combine just until the mixture sticks together.  Divide the dough in half.  Form into 2 balls.  Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Prepare a work surface by sprinkling with flour, and roll out into two discs to fit your pie plate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the filling, pour cherries in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add zest and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little reserved water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Brush with egg. Sprinkle crust with sugar.

Place pie on a cookie sheet in case of bubbling over.  Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

Share the love, not the hype!

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

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Wild Pork Green Chile Stew

DSC_0043One of my biggest missions in writing this blog has been to share with hunters that no wild game meat should ever be wasted.  Cook-all-day venison, elk, nilgai, or pork uses the tough and sinewy bits that most hunters either grind up or just toss out.

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Every year, I cook up about 20-40 lbs. of shank, shoulder, neck, and rib meat that I bag up in one-pound, carefully labeled packages. I also pour the rich, priceless meat broth into bags or jars to use in recipes.  This liquid is like gold to a recipe.  You have to pay top dollar for this stuff in gourmet food shops.  I use my packages of cooked meat and homemade broths in an ever-increasing number of fast, easy, satisfying, and healthy recipes.

Here is one more recipe that can be prepared in a pinch, like on a Monday evening when it’s just too damned hard to get your act together.  Or when it’s cold out and you discover that you’re gonna have a few extra people for dinner (an hour before they’re scheduled to arrive).  With little effort, you can thaw out a package of cook-all-day pork, grab some of this miracle in a jar and a few other ingredients, don your super-hero cape and impress the hell out of your appreciative family.  Go for it!

 

Cookwell & Company’s Green Chile Stew is readily available at a Texas grocer, HEB. It can also be purchased online.  Its bold flavor and chunky texture compliment the mild flavor of my cook-all-day wild pork.  I purchase several jars when they go on sale to keep in the pantry.  If we ever move into an area that doesn’t have an HEB, I’ll order it by the case.

Wild Pork Green Chile Stew

1 lb. cooked-all-day wild pork, chopped (Fatty bits make it even better!)

1 jar of Cookwell & Company’s Green Chile Stew, 32 oz.

1cup of cooking broth from the meat or stock depending how soupy you want it

1 ear of roasted corn kernels (or 3/4 cup canned corn, drained)

1 tsp. comino (cumin)

a plop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for the top, if ya want

grated cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, cilantro or whatever you like as a garnish

1.In a dutch oven, combine pork, contents of jar, cooking juices or stock. and comino.

2.If using roasted corn, cut it from the cob and add to stew and simmer.  Or add canned corn. Canned corn can be spread out on a cookie sheet and roasted under the broiler, as well. Just toss it around a bit as it browns.  Before using in a recipe, remove any kernels that might have burned.

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3.Heat through.

4.Add a plop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.  Add a sprinkling of grated cheese.  Serve with crusty bread.

Tuh Duh!  Too easy not to love!

 

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Corned Nilgai

DSC_0311I was so excited when I read Hank Shaw’s post on Corned Venison!  I’m a huge fan of corned beef and a big fan of Hank Shaw, as well.  There are few things better than a corned beef sandwich on rye bread (except perhaps corned venison or corned nilgai) served up like a reuben with saurkraut and beer mustard.

Hank did a very thorough (and beautifully photographed) job of describing the process of making corned venison so I didn’t bother putting my own spin on it except that, this most recent time, I used half of a nilgai roast instead of venison and I threw in a deer heart just to see  how it would turn out. (Really well!)  I’ve prepared the recipe three times now.  The first two times, I used venison football roasts. The recipe turned out great.  Flavorful and tender.

The Instacure I ordered from Amazon Prime.  I followed Hank’s directions to a “t” except that I used brown sugar rather than white for the brine.  I just like brown sugar better as a general rule.  My biggest challenge came when I was looking for a container to place my meat in while it brined.  I settled on a plastic cylindrical container that 4 lbs. of potato salad came in. It sealed nicely and was just the right size for a 1/2 nilgai roast plus a deer heart (just cuz) and could be slid into the back of the fridge.  The same container (after it was thoroughly cleaned) was perfect for storing the cooked meat which needs to be kept in the cooking liquid so it doesn’t dry out.

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Nilgai is pretty dense, sinewy meat so I punctured it pretty liberally so that the brine could penetrate all the way through.  For the heart, I just cut off about the top ½ inch, rinsed it out well and tossed it into the brine with the other meat.

Our favorite way to eat the corned meat is on a sandwich which has been toasted, panini-style, with my George Foreman Grill. I find the best rye bread that is available in the Rio Grande Valley, slather it with beer mustard, a slice of swiss cheese, and some saurkraut.  I spray the outside of the sandwich with olive oil cooking spray and grill it on the ol’ George Foreman.  The same effect could be accomplished with an actual panini press or in a cast iron skillet.  The result is crisply toasted bread, melty cheese, and fabulous corned meat that I prepared myself for my Deerslayer Clan!

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Promise me that you’ll try it!

 
 

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New Year, New Outlook!

It’s New Year’s Day, rainy, and cold.  Deerslayer has to work so I’m able to snuggle up, reflect, and plan for the future.  It’s the time of year when everyone resolves to be a better, healthier, more exercise-conscious, Zen-like person.  I’m old enough to realize that it’s a waste of time and energy.  It’s a recipe for disappointment.

My resolutions are leaning more toward doing more things that I love.  I will drink more hot chocolate and wine (not together necessarily), never pass up a worthy dessert, be a little bolder in my cooking, delve into the art of charcuterie (curing meats), blog more often, and enjoy my family more.

It’s going to be a great year!  Enjoy it with me.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving and Tradition

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The week of Thanksgiving in the Deerslayer household brings forth favorite recipes, some on yellowed splattered paper from years of use. Another is scrawled on the back of a discount coupon from the year that SeaWorld opened in San Antonio.  A couple are from old newspapers.  I enjoy seeing the articles and headlines from way back when.

Of course, we’re having a turkey.   I plan to use Ree Drummond’s recipe for whiskey maple brine for the first time. I’ll take a vote before I commit, however. I’m almost as excited about the stock that I will make after the holidays, though!

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We’ll also have Cornbread Dressing with Pecans and Apricots.  It will allow me to use some of my Maple Wild Pork Breakfast Sausage.

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Cauliflower with cheese sauce and Junior Deerslayer’s broccoli/rice casserole will also be on the menu.  She will add some garlic mashed potatoes, too.

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The Garlic Mashed Potatoes will be made using my great-grandmother’s potato masher.  A little more tradition.

The whole family agreed that there will be chicken hearts thrown into the turkey pan.  Some will be chopped and added to the turkey gravy.  The rest will be nibbled while the turkey cools.

The meal will conclude with Deerslayer’s favorite Cranberry Dessert and  I’m hoping to try Ree Drummond’s  Gingersnap and Pumpkin Cheesecake with caramel sauce. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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It will be a wonderful day of foods that remind of our many blessings:

Family, freedoms, full freezers, friends

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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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