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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Deerslayer’s Venison and Guinness Stew

I bought this awesome cast iron dutch oven with a lid. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while. With deer season in full swing, I was looking forward to trying it out. This recipe pretty much happened by accident. My junior deerslayers and I had slow-cooked some stew meat. (Check out my easy recipe for preparing moist, tender venison from just about any cut of meat. It’s in my “Come and Take It” section.) We threw together some ingredients and it tasted really great. The real challenge was remembering what was in it! Luckily, the three of us were able to put our heads together and recreate the awesomeness!  This recipe is just as amazing with wild pork!

Deerslayer’s Venison and Guinness Stew

1 1/2 lbs. slow-roasted venison
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
8 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
4 tbsp. butter
Splash of olive oil
Tommy’s salt & pepper mix
1 cup pearl onions
1/2 cup canned peas
32 oz. box of beef stock
6 oz. Guinness beer (Drink the rest!)
3 tbsp. cornstarch
Kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper
1-2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
2 cups any awesome cheddar, grated

In heavy cast iron skillet, saute mushrooms in butter & olive oil. Season with Tommy’s salt & pepper mix.

In another sauce pan, bring beef stock to a boil. Add carrots, celery, and fresh, peeled pearl onions (or frozen). Cook until tender. Using slotted spoon, transfer veggies to skillet with mushrooms.

                                                                                                    Toss in peas and shredded venison. Return beef stock to heat, reserving 1/2 cup. Add the 1/2 cup and cornstarch to a jar, seal and SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE.

Add Guinness and stock-cornstarch mixture to remaining beef stock. Boil on medium heat until thickened. Pour all into cast iron skillet and heat through. Season with kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper.

Stir in grated, awesome cheese, reserving a little to sprinkle over the top. Serve with crusty bread and extra Guinness..

Variations:
Pot pie——–350 degree oven. Pour mixture into pie plate. Stir in grated awesome cheese. Cover with a prepared crust. Brush crust with cream or egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes.
Shepherd Deerslayer pie——– Same as pot pie but with mashed potatoes on top.

 
 

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The Empty Freezer! Lentil Soup Time

I guess there comes a time in the life of every deerslayer’s wife when she wanders up to the freezer, the bastion of sustenance for her family and gazes upon the vast emptiness in dismay. The question of what to have for dinner is usually only as far away as an arm’s reach into the depths of the freezer. For the first time in my married life, our well-spring has run dry. In my exuberance, I cooked up every last morsel of gamey goodness, not frugally and carefully rationing it out prior to the onset of the next season. There IS whitewing dove. Lots and lots of it. But none of the 4-legged yumminess that I need for most of my recipes that I want to prepare and share with you. I’m dying to prepare the Guinness Stew, Venison Parmesan, Venison Marsala, and so many others. You’ll just have to wait. I’m also very eager to prepare my wild pork recipes. Wild Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce, Wild Pork Roast, Wild Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Once again, you’ll just have to wait.

This entry is about what the deerslayer’s wife must do when the freezer is empty. I haven’t bought meat at a grocer for so long that I just wandered around for quite a while before blindly picking up some tenderized steaks to substitute into some of my venison recipes. It was very sad.

Going through my recipe pile, (and, yes, it is a stained, spotted, well-loved pile), I found a recipe that I think you might enjoy. It’s for lentil soup and is very dear to my heart. You see, I got this meatless (but very hearty) recipe from my friends at the Carmelite Hermitage near Christoval, Texas. http://www.carmelitehermits.org. They are a group of men who devote their lives to God, supporting themselves by growing their own food and by selling wonderful baked goods, fudges and candies. Their goods are available for sale at their website and certainly worth a look. The treats make wonderful gifts. Check them out and check out this great recipe.

Lentil Soup

olive oil                                   1/2 bunch greens, chopped w/stems removed

1 onion, chopped                     2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced             1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 1/2 cup lentils                       1 red potato, small cubed

2-3 qts. chicken stock              1 cup tomato sauce

1 celery stalk, finely chopped     salt and pepper to taste

Pour olive oil into a soup pot and gently saute the onion. Add garlic and continue to saute for 2 minutes.
Wash and rinse lentils and add them to the soup pot. Add the stock, cut vegetables, and the rest of the ingredients (except salt & pepper). Bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 1 hour.
Add salt and pepper and simmer for a short while longer. Remove bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 6-8.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Recipes, Uncategorized

 

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Goat Cheese, Just Because!

This past weekend, I trekked eight hours up to San Angelo, Texas with one goal in mind; to replenish my supply of goat cheese.  I could’ve just ordered some on the internet, but I’d heard that my “goat-cheese lady” had gotten some “new stuff”.  I just had to try the new queso fresco!  Dr. Hinkle makes the best goat cheese that I’ve ever tasted.  There’s absolutely nothing to compare from a regular grocer.  I use her cheeses exclusively in my venison neatloaf with goat cheese recipe as well as my goat cheese-filled venison meatballs  (recipe to come).

This time, I purchased the garlic & herb, rosemary & garlic, Vietnamese Chili, feta, and of course, the queso fresco,  I don’t mind really stocking up since these cheeses freeze beautifully.  As I mentioned before, all of these varieties plus several others are available online at  www.elcaminodelascabras.com.  This is not a paid advertisement.  I really love to promote locally made products and have a special place in my heart for a Texas A & M graduate woman who has established a successful business that creates stuff that I love!

Don’t pass up an opportunity to check out the website and try the calamata olive cheese and the others, as well.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get some crackers!

 

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Opening Weekend… With Bacon

This is OPENING WEEKEND of deer season and, needless to say, we’ll be out at the hunting camp. It’s surprising how much I’m looking forward to it, the cooking, planning, packing, and the trip to the camp. My deerslayer seems like a different person at this time of year, happier, more kid-like. He likes to plan, too. But he really likes BEING out at the hunting camp with the family. He grew up with several generations of deerslayers pulling campers into a circle around a great campfire like covered wagons in an old western. When the deerslayer and I met and had been dating for a while, I was invited to participate in this ritual. I have to admit that I hated it. It was totally foreign to me…. and wayyyyyyy too rustic. I moped and was sucked dry by mosquitoes. I was not willing to be seen in clothing that would keep me warm enough to enjoy the experience and keep the bugs at bay. My sinuses exploded and I was a virtual sneezing, dripping mess. Flexibility was not my middle name. Looking back, I’m surprised he was willing to marry me.
Over the years, my attitude has changed. Hunting is such a huge part of who my deerslayer is that I had to make some changes in the way I looked at the hunting experience. I realized that I had to put up a good front so that our future deerslayers would grow up to be exactly that. It would break my deerslayer’s heart if his daughters were as wimpy as their mom! After a few hits and misses I discovered that it’s all in the planning. For example, if an allergy sufferer heads out unprepared (­no meds, no tissues) all is lost regarding a positive experience. Bringing plenty of books, magazines, games, journals, yummy snacks (and wine) and well-planned meals can ensure a great hunting experience even for the “hunting challenged”. I made sure that my girls were appropriately clothed and snacked. It seemed to work. I discovered that there were foods that could be prepared ahead that would provide a wonderful, home-cooked environment. I’ve already mentioned in my last entry that Bean Soup and Fresh Cornbread will make any deerslayer’s wife the “belle of the ball” if you will. I learned how to percolate coffee with the best of ’em. (If any of you would like a tutorial, just hollar!) A steaming pot of coffee and real cream can’t be beat. Cream is much more do-able now that Land-o-Lakes has come out with “Mini-Moos”; individual serving sizes of half-and-half that don’t have to be refrigerated. Another trick that I have learned is to cook thick-cut, maple bacon ahead of time and toss it in the skillet at the camp to heat and crisp it up. Talk about wonderful smells wafting from the tiny kitchenette of the camper! The veritible Chanel #5 of hunting camp.

Camp Bacon

I always prepare my bacon on a cooling rack set over a foil-lined cookie sheet. I can usually cook as many as 10 slices at a time. I put the cookie sheet in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the oven and the thickness of the bacon. The bacon doesn’t even have to be flipped over. Sometimes, though, I lay strips of foil over the ends of the bacon to prevent them from cooking too quickly. After I’ve cooked up several batches of bacon and left them to drain on paper towels, I place them in gallon-sized plastic zip bags and refrigerate until the trip. When I’m ready to prepare the bacon, I simply heat a skillet and warm the bacon. The camp smells great and everyone is happy! Don’t forget that Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches are easy and wonderful, too.

As the years went by, I discovered that my deerslayer genuinely appreciated my effort, no matter how pathetic it seemed. I also discovered that it really didn’t matter if I was freshly coiffed, my attitude was what made the difference.
I also discovered that a person’s threshold for pain and grossness increases with each child one bears. Now, I will sit around the campfire wrapped in a tablecloth or quilt, or dirty tarp with a scarf encircling my entire head except for a small opening for a sip of wine periodically. I know that my deerslayer loves me no matter what. Perhaps even a little bit more if I’m not quite as concerned about my appearance and can laugh at the often-told stories and jokes since I’m comfortable and warm in front of the fire. Don’t get me wrong! I’m very excited about some awesome new “hunting” boots that my deerslayer bought for me. When I told him that they were going to be “my new hunting boots” he knew better than to laugh, but he smirked pretty visibly. These new boots are damned cute and I do, in fact, look like I just stepped out of an Eddie Bauer catalog. I may have to dedicate an entire entry to them!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Hunting, Recipes

 

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To Bean or Not To Bean

christmas 2013, apricot cake, pan-fried heart 045Cool weather is finally making its way to South Texas. It’s about freakin’ time. We’ll be bundling up and drinking hot chocolate in temperatures that we’re hoping will range from 78 to lows in the 50s. Brrrrrrr.
Whenever it starts to get cold in this neck of the woods my thoughts turn almost immediately to beans and cornbread. A huge, honkin’ pot of beans and a cast iron skillet full of crisp, fragrant cornbread (made with bacon drippings). Isn’t there a time when everyone’s thoughts turn to beans? Is it just me? In Texas, when beans are referenced, it’s a given that pinto beans are the thing. The beans that my deerslayers love are more of a bean soup than just beans lying without much purpose on a plate. Beans need to be served in a bowl. I throw in lots of veggies and ham or wild pork and lots of broth. My latest batch was made with wild pork shank (shin and forearm bones). It was one of the best recipes I’ve prepared in recent memory.
Beans bring people together. A huge pot can be prepared just as easily as a small amount. It only takes as much forethought as sorting, rinsing, and soaking the beans a day ahead. I always prepare more than I need for a meal (and yes, I serve them as a “one bowl” meal) since they freeze so nicely.
Beans that have been frozen are perfect for taking to the hunting camp. I pack the beans in one-gallon bags which I lay out on a cookie sheet in the freezer until ready to stack. The frozen, flat packages of beans will easily thaw and reheat. Don’t forget to take a nice big soup pot to the hunting camp. Cornbread can be prepared ahead or baked fresh and hot if you have a cabin or camper. There are even ways to prepare it using the campfire (I’m not there, yet!). I’ll include the recipe for the beans but the wonderful thing about this dish is that you can use many combinations of veggies and meat to create a hearty, healthy meal.

Bean Soup with Wild Pork Shank

christmas 2013, apricot cake, pan-fried heart 043

1 lb. of dried pinto beans
2 chopped onions
2 chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chopped, fresh jalapenos
1 can diced tomatoes
2 32oz. boxes chicken stock
2 wild pork shanks
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped, stems removed. Reserve some for sprinkling.
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt (added at the end to prevent beans from being tough)

If you’ve never prepared pinto beans before, you need to know that all dried beans must be sorted through to remove any rocks, dirt clods, and nasty beans. (You’ll know them when you see them!) Then the beans should be thoroughly rinsed, placed in a large pot, and covered with twice as much water as will cover them. Let them sit overnight. The beans will expand, absorbing a good  deal of the liquid.

The next day, rinse the beans, add enough water to cover the beans and bring to a boil. Add all veggies except cilantro, add chicken stock to cover, return to a slow boil and leave on heat for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir and add pork shanks at this point, add additional chicken stock to cover if necessary.

christmas 2013, apricot cake, pan-fried heart 044

Return to a boil until pork falls from the bone, about 1 1/2 additional hours. Add salt and black pepper to taste and chopped cilantro. Serve with hot cornbread. Sprinkle with extra cilantro. Enjoy your new favorite comfort food, hunting camp food, autumn food.

*Just as a side note- Many things affect the cooking time for beans. Altitude, age of the beans, differences in cook-tops, length of time the beans soak all can make a difference. Within the past year, I discovered that adding salt early in the cooking process will result in tough beans. This is a bigger issue if you decide to use bacon or salt pork in your recipe, both of which I sometimes do.
Once, my deerslayers and I headed to Colorado for a family ski trip. There were approximately 40 extended deerslayers in attendance. I volunteered to make a huge honkin’ pot of beans (my specialty) for all the in-laws. Sadly, the beans I purchased were old (I presume), we were at a frightening elevation, and I apparently added all kinds of salty goodness to my beans early on in the cooking process. The beans were not ready in time for dinner, nor were they ready the next day after cooking overnight. Someone ended up taking them home, cooking them for an additional 24 hours and reported that the beans were delicious. Strangely, with all the delectible recipes that I am able to prepare, the “bean debacle” is still mentioned at family gatherings after 10 years. Go figure!

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Hunting, Recipes, Side Dishes, Wild Pork

 

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