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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Happy and Blessed Easter to all!

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May all the deerslayers, pigslayers, bunnyslayers, possumslayers and their families have a very blessed and happy Easter.  If you prepared an awesome wild game recipe for your special meal, let me know how it turned out.

As my junior Deerslayers have gotten older, they have taken it upon themselves to carry on the tradions started when they were little and add a few more.

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The eggs look like they’re skiing but my junior deerslayer devised this clever method for drying the eggs after they were dyed.

 

This little guy seems a little defiant.  “No, I will not deliver eggs!”

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ImageNina,the rabbit, was a craft project that my little one worked on this week.  It’s good to be part of the deerslayer’s family.  

 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Some Days Just Scream Out for Chili-Roni

Some Days Just Scream Out for Chili-Roni

Chili-Mac with Ground Venison & Ground Pork

Everyone has his/her favorite comfort food.  My family loves chicken fried venison steaks with garlic mashed potatoes and cream gravy.  We all love venison meatloaf.  It makes the house smell great!  Any type of pasta is comforting.  But number one on my personal comfort food list is Chili-Roni.  I’ve seen it called Chili-Mac.  But it’s chili and macaroni & cheese mixed together in a wonderful conglomeration of feel good.  Recently, I’ve actually seen it on menus in restaurants.  I have to admit that I find it almost offensive to take a food that is perfect in its simplicity and try to upgrade it to gourmet status.  But foodies are notorious for that.

What makes chili-roni perfect is that it is from my childhood.  During the dawning of boxed dinners, TV dinners, and canned veggies, my mom created this snuggly blanket of a dish that always had me coming back for seconds. It, too, uses “the box”.  Boxed macaroni and cheese is perhaps the most important part! The cheap stuff!  I actually use the generic version of the store brand.  Back in the day, there was Kraft and that was it.  My mom was not the first to prepare chili-roni.  It has been passed down for generations. It’s one of those dishes that kids the world over just love.  All kids, everywhere!

 After I experienced it as a kid, I noticed that pre-packaged and various other box and pouch prepared meals came up with versions.  The fact is, chili-roni is so easy to prepare, why not do it yourself so that you know what’s going into it?  Granted, boxed mac & cheese may not be the healthiest thing on the planet, but at least the amount of salt and chemicals can be kept at a minimum if you have a hand in the list of ingredients.  You can also tweak the recipe as per your family’s preferences. 

As with most of my recipes, ad-libbing is just a given.  If you have canned spaghetti sauce in the fridge that might start growing a fur coat in a few days, use it instead of the tomato paste and water.  Different type of noodles in the pantry?  Okay, just don’t tell me!  I have to say that the packet of powdered mystery cheese in the mac & cheese box IS a pretty important ingredient.  Just so you know.

I’m gonna share the recipe, in all its simplicity.  I thought about making everyone who makes the recipe sign a promise that no gourmet ingredients would be added, no substitutions (except perhaps beef for venison).  Here it is, a window into my childhood!

Chili-Roni

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1 lb. ground venison (or 1/2 venison, 1/2 pork)

1 box mac & cheese (store brand is fine)

1 small can tomato paste

1 cup water

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

a couple splashes Worcestershire sauce

salt to taste

1.  Brown ground meat in a cast iron skillet.  I ALWAYS sprinkle in a bit of salt & pepper mix as I brown meat.  It helps with any gamey smell.

2. Boil water for boxed pasta.  Prepare pasta, reserving powdered mystery cheese for later to be added to the chili mix.

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3.  Add tomato paste and remaining ingredients to browned meat. (I’m sure everybody knows this but my secret trick for a clean extrusion of tomato paste is to open the top and bottom of the can and just push it straight through.  It saves me from scraping out the can. It saves probably 30 seconds or so that could be used to pour a glass of wine!) Stir in cheese powder and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

4.  Drain pasta and add to chili.  Done.

 

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Wild Pork Done Right/ Wild Pork Done Easy

A couple of weeks ago, my deerslayer was called upon to put together a birthday extravaganza for the patriarch of the Deerslayer clan.  The venue was a given; the family beach house near South Padre Island; rustic, grungy and the site of many, many great times had by all.  The food?  How about the whole wild pig we had in the freezer?  Perfect!  The method?  Smoked on the grill, of course!  My deerslayer worked with mesquite wood and a pit the way Picasso worked with oils.  It was pure artistry. However, it required four men and a flatbed trailer to get the pit to its destination.

The day of the party arrived.  Guests were greeted by “the traditional welcome of the deerslayer”.

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There’s nothing like a couple slabs of wild pig to welcome guests!  They (the slabs of pork, not the guests) went onto the pit and smoked all day.

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After 8 hours of snacking, storytelling, joking, beer drinking, and birthday festivities the main course was ready!

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It was outstanding.  I have to admit that I thought of my fellow bloggers at www.patronsofthepit.wordpress.com. I think that even they would be proud since they are experts of all things bar-b-qued and smoked.

An evening with family and friends, wild pork (and beer and wine), and beautiful views. It doesn’t get any better than this!

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As wonderful a time as this was, it required a lot of preparation and planning and man-hours.  There are times, however, when we just don’t feel like firing up the grill but still want the flavor of great pork.  My deerslayer processed our pigs this year so that we kept some racks of ribs.  Lots of racks of ribs to be exact because we got several wild pigs.

I decided to try something other than the traditional method.  At this point, if “The Patrons of the Pit” are reading this, or any other BBQ purists, walk away!  Just stop reading because you will shake your heads in despair.

Wild Pork Ribs (Done Easy)

I seasoned some pork ribs very liberally with Salt & Pepper mix, tossed them in my covered roasting pan with a can of Dr. Pepper, and braised them for a couple of hours at 350 degrees, turning occasionally.

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 Then I removed the lid, slathered them with my favorite new BBQ sauce, Skipkenny’s Whiskey BBQ Sauce, from New Braunfels. (It’s now available on Amazon!  I bought a case!)  I stuck them back in the oven for another hour until they began to fall off the bone.

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The ribs were ready for dinner with beans and potato salad.  They didn’t have the characteristic smoky flavor and smell of pit BBQ, but neither did I.  While I love BBQ as much as the next person, I have to admit (as do my deerslayers) that this is a pretty decent alternative to no ribs at all!  I’d be willing to prepare them this way again and my deerslayers said that they’d be willing to eat them!

 
 

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Not Always the Cat’s Meow (Venison Marsala)

Not Always the Cat’s Meow (Venison Marsala)

Like every other deerslayer’s wife on the planet, as hunting season winds down, I come to the realization that, as much as I embrace my vocation, being the wife of a deer slayer isn’t always all that great.  Don’t get me wrong!   There’s no title I’d rather hold, except perhaps “Empress of Deerslaying”.  However, when the time comes to clean out the camper, wash the camo for the last time, and clean the coolers, I find myself starting to dwell on the negative.

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  I generally start feeling sorry for myself as I begin the cleaning and packing ritual that signifies the end of the season. I may even become, dare I say, cranky.  My sense of humor is lacking.

“How many times have I told you to get the pig tusks off the kitchen counter?  What are they doing in the dishwasher?”

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“Can I have my roasting pan back now?”

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It’s important to keep in mind that Deerslayers’ wives encounter situations unique to the title.  For example, I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I returned home to discover a box from UPS on my front door step.  I always get pretty excited about deliveries.

This time, however, much to my horror, I discovered that the package had been ordered by my Deerslayer.  It seems that we had become the proud new owners of a “buck boiler”, a contraption used to aid in the creation of a DIY variety of European mount.  For the novice deerslayer’s wife, a European mount is not a Kama Sutra position, but a trophy that hangs from the wall and includes only the bleached skull and antlers of a trophy buck, usually mounted on a polished medallion of wood.  With that background information, it’s no wonder that I reeled at the sight of the “buck boiler”.   I understood the implications immediately.  Boiling a buck’s head until no meat remains brings up the immediate questions, “Where is this going to be done?” and “How bad will it smell?” and “Should I throw in some carrots, onions, and celery?”

Now, this is where a deerslayer’s wife differs from the norm:  I was grateful, at this point, that one of the deer heads currently wrapped in a garbage bag and duct tape and occupying my extra refrigerator would find a new home.  Just as a side note, we DID ask an unsuspecting guest to go get a beverage out of the above mentioned fridge during a recent visit just to see his reaction.

Outside.  The boiling would take place outside.  Good.  Out of sight, out of mind.  My deerslayer promised me that the process would not upset my normal routine of homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and the like… except that the junior deerslayers and I needed to keep constant watch to ensure that the water level of the electrically charged and vibrating bucket did not drop below the antler line of the deceased.  It vibrated away all day, and all night.  The neighborhood cats came to watch the proceedings.   The entire process wasn’t as thorough as I had hoped, however.  I envisioned pulling a beautifully bleached trophy from the foamy mire ready to display proudly.  Not!  Without going into too much grizzly detail, suffice it to say that there was more “internal cleaning” that had to be done.  This required the use of my roasting pan and lots and lots of hydrogen peroxide… in my kitchen… on my counter! Continued soaking, bubbling, and bleaching in the sun resulted in a trophy that even a deerslayer’s wife would be proud to display.

Such is the life of the deerslayer and his family!  On the upside, we have three freezers full of fabulous meat that will provide us with wonderful, healthy recipes such as the following:

Venison Marsala

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1 lb. pounded venison steaks

Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix*

A couple scoops of flour on a paper plate for dredging steaks

4 tbsp. butter

¼ cup olive oil

10 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms (crimini)

½ cup Marsala

½ cup beef stock

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 package fettuccini or linguini

Finely chopped chives or garlic chives

Pound out venison steaks and season with salt & pepper mix*.  I always place my steaks in a zip bag and pound them out on a cutting board placed on a kitchen towel.  They seem to keep their shape better and the process is less messy. The kitchen towel provides a buffer between the cutting board and counter top.   Dredge with flour and set aside.

Begin boiling water for pasta. Follow package directions for pasta.  It should be ready about the same time as the sauce.

Preheat large cast iron skillet with olive oil on the stovetop.  On medium high heat, brown steaks.  Set aside in an ovenproof pan.  Place in warm oven, about 200 degrees.

In same cast iron skillet, sauté mushrooms in butter, scraping up crusty bits.  Combine Marsala and stock in a measuring cup.  Add to mushrooms in hot skillet, reserving about ½ cup.  Combine reserved mixture with cornstarch.  I usually pour my cool liquid and cornstarch into a jar, secure the lid, and shake until combined.  Add to mushrooms and liquid, turn heat to medium and stir constantly until thickened.  Return steaks to sauce mixture.

Pour pasta onto large platter.  Place steaks on pasta.  Pour sauce over.  Sprinkle with chives or garlic chives.  Serve.

*Find recipe in “Game Birds Interrupted”

 

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