Venison Parmesan with Fabulous Sauce

This is one of my family’s favorite recipes. It’s elegant enough to serve to company, the sauce can be made up ahead to save time, the meat can even be pounded out a day ahead, as well. When I prepared it this time, my younger junior deerslayer (bless her heart) prepared the sauce, tweaking the recipe as she went. I wrote everything down as she put it in. The sauce was fabulous and the recipe is hers!
Another thing I love about this recipe is that, if you’re having an “off” day, you can still put together a pretty darned good version of the venison parmesan by just using your favorite pasta sauce in a jar. Is it as good as the real deal? Of course not! But if you’re dangling by a thread and don’t want your family to starve, just keep this in mind.
Additional time can be saved by making this a “second day recipe”. By that, I mean that, if you used one of the larger muscles from a venison hind quarter (see instructions on my post “Bacon Wrapped Garlic Venison Roast” for how to use the different muscles in the hind quarter), there will be enough meat to pound out steaks for two meals for a family of 3 or 4. If you pound out your steaks on one day for chicken fried steak or something like that, there will be pounded steaks left over for you to use the next day for a surprisingly elegant meal. No one need know that you’re dangling precariously by your last nerve!

Venison Parmesean
For the sauce:

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olive oil, 2-3 tbsp.
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
dried Italian Herbs (or fresh if you prefer)
1/2 tsp. redpepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine
28 oz. (or so) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan
sliced, fresh mozzarella
salt
16 oz. dried fettucine

for the steaks:

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1 lb. pounded venison steaks (backstrap or hind quarter muscle*)
1/2 cup grated parmesan for coating
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp. dried Italian herbs
Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix**
2 eggs, beaten in pie plate

To prepare the sauce:
1. Saute garlic in olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add the rest of the ingredients (except parmesan and mozzarella) and allow to simmer while the meat is prepared, about 30 minutes.
2. Prepare the meat. These steaks can be made from backstrap, obviously, or one of the large muscles of the hind quarter. Of the four large muscles of the hind quarter, the rectangular muscle works best for this recipe.

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I’ve had the best luck by, after cutting away any sinewy covering and fascia, placing my steaks in a plastic zip-lock bag to pound out on a plastic cutting board.

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The plastic bag allows the meat to flatten and lengthen without meat bits flying about.

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After pounding meat, liberally season with Salt & Pepper mixture.
3. Prepare the bread crumb mixture. Mix 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup parmesan, and Italian herbs on a paper plate. Since leftover crumbs can’t be reused, the entire paper plate can be disposed of for easy clean up.

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4. Set up a “breading station” with your paper plate of crumb mixture, a pie plate with beaten eggs, and your pounded venison steaks.
5. Dip each steak into the beaten egg and allow excess to drip off. Then dredge in the crumb mixture, patting extra into the steaks. Breaded steaks can either be returned to the cutting board or set directly into a cast iron skillet heated to medium heat with several glugs of olive oil. Allow to brown on both sides, just a few minutes

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. Then place in a 9×13 baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over steaks leaving enough to serve with pasta. There should be enough sauce left over to serve with fettucine or other pasta of your choice.
6. Place in preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbling. During the last 10 minutes of baking, follow package instructions for fettucine. When steaks are done, allow to rest for a few minutes. Serve with pasta, reserved sauce and maybe a salad. Excellent!

* Instructions for using the different muscles from the hind quarter are in my post, “Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Venison Roast”
** Tommy’s Secret Salt & Pepper Mix recipe is in my post “Game Birds, Interrupted”.

Cornbread (and Beans?)

Cornbread is a wonderful thing. Beans just wouldn’t be the same without it. The smell of warm cornbread harkens most Southerners back to their youth. Many refer to the beans/cornbread combination as a single entity. “Beans & Cornbread” are practically one word. So when I take bean soup (frozen, usually) out to the hunting camp, I usually plan on cornbread, also. If I’m particularly organized (not always) when planning a camping trip, I can bake up a batch of cornbread before we leave the house. Cornbread, however, is very easy to prepare out at the camp, smells great, and can’t be beat when served hot with butter. I mix all my dry ingredients at home and transport them in a large yogurt container, zip-lock bag (as in the photo), or the like. When I get to the camp, I add the liquid ingredients, toss into a heated, cast iron skillet (with bacon grease) and bake.

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As an added note, I’ve discovered that bacon drippings can be cooled and saved in small containers like an ice tray and frozen for individual uses (like cornbread). Life is good!

Preheated 425 degree oven
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted bacon drippings plus more for the skillet

DSC_0050I found this great Texas cornmeal available at a local grocer.  It worked great for my recipe, made a wonderful batch of cornbread, and it’s local!

Combine flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and bacon drippings. Mix with a whisk just til smooth. Pour into hot cast Iron skillet or dutch oven that has been coated with bacon drippings. It should sizzle a little when you pour the batter in. This ensures a nice crispy crust. I place my cast iron into the oven with just more than 1/4 cup of bacon drippings when I turn on the oven. Then the drippings are ready to be incorporated into the recipe by the time I get to that point. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Venison Roast

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One of the things I admire most about my deerslayer and his philosophy about hunting is his respect for nature, his respect for the animal, and his appreciation for the right that we have to harvest our own food. I appreciate how he taught our daughters to never hunt anything that you don’t intend to eat.  And that harvesting the deer humanely is more decent than allowing them to overpopulate and ulimately starve.  I agree with his attitude that processing meat is something that we can do at home.  By doing it at home, you know how fresh your meat is, that it’s YOUR meat, and you can package it up the way you need it for your recipes.

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This entry needs to start with a tutorial; because I’m a deerslayer’s wife, a teacher, a homeschooling mom, and a huge proponent of not wasting what God has provided for us. I also have a propensity for sharing things in a step-by-step  tutorial kind of way.   A single venison hind quarter provides my family of four with four to five meals if the muscles are separated out.  Many hunting families are not aware of the versatility of these cuts. The meat is discarded because it is considered tough and too difficult to prepare.

WAKE UP!  There’s so much more that can be done to provide deerslayers’ families with freezers FULL of meal options that are lean, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and food that YOU have provided for YOUR family!

My deerslayer and I have taken a few photos of a venison hind quarter during processing to show the various muscles that can be used and, hopefully, provide some recipes that will work for your family.

The hind quarter provides four large muscles that can be used for different types of recipes.

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The shank or lower leg meat is very sinewy and can either be placed in a vacuum bag with other like cuts of meat and frozen to be ground later or cooked all day (See my recipe for cook-all-day venison in “Come and Take It”).

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After the meat has been skinned out, place it on a large cutting board, hip-side down.  This allows you to see the different muscle groups.

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You will be able to run your hand down between the muscles and separate them from each other by gently tearing away the connective tissue.

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Follow the femur from the shank up through to the hip joint.

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By carefully cutting this bone away, the large muscles will be visible and easy to package up for labeling (this is important as you’re scrounging around in the freezer in a few months wondering what the hell this mystery meat is),  and freezing.

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From one hind quarter, I am able to put away a muscle that, when silvery skin is removed, sears up very much like a tenderloin (it’ll feed about 2 people, but you’ll get another one from the other hind quarter!),

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a muscle that can be pounded out for chicken-fried steaks, venison parmesean and the like, (It is also a good size for making whole-muscle jerky),

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and another large muscle that can be used the same way or trussed up and used in the Bacon Wrapped Garlic Venison Roast Recipe .

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The muscle that I usually use for a roast I refer to as a “football roast”.  It is shaped like a football, and approximately 10 inches long.  Unlike the other muscles in the hind quarter, it is rounded on the ends.

When making a roast, it is beneficial to leave all silvery skin or fascia intact. It will keep the juices from escaping during cooking.  Also, it is imperative that after cooking, the meat must be allowed to rest for at least ten minutes.  Depending on the meat, the fascia can be cut away after it is served and it must be served rare to medium rare, approximately 45 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Bacon Wrapped Garlic Venison Roast

with Roasted Rosemary Root Veggies

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1 venison “football” roast, approx. 3 lbs.

lots of chopped garlic,  about 1/3 cup

Tommy’s Salt & Pepper Mix*

thick cut maple bacon, 3 slices

a bunch carrots, sliced

red potatoes, one per person, sliced thin

One onion, sliced thin

2-3 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped or leaves

olive oil

more Salt & Pepper Mix

1 cup water or beef stock

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Place roast on a rack cut side up, above a pan to catch drips.  The fascia (silver skin surrounding the muscle) will hold in the juices as the meat cooks. Depending on the roast, the fascia can be eaten or cut away after serving.

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Liberally season cavity in the meat with Salt & Pepper mix and garlic. (I have to admit that I use prepared garlic in a jar for this particular recipe.  I’ve prepared this recipe using fresh garlic and I’ve prepared it using the stuff in the jar. There is so much garlic needed in this recipe that fresh garlic is a little overwhelming.  Don’t get me wrong!  The intense eye-popping flavor is right up the alley of my junior deerslayers.  However, I find that the more subtle flavor of the prepared, chopped garlic allows the other flavors to come through.)

Truss roast.  Season the top of the roast with more S & P mix and add more garlic. Cut 3 slices of bacon in half and lay over top of the roast.

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Place in 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes for a rare to medium rare roast.  I’ve got to say at this point that if you don’t like rare to medium-rare meat, then don’t prepare this recipe.  It simply doesn’t work if overcooked.  The meat is tough and dry.  Just don’t.

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  Let the meat sit for AT LEAST 10 minutes to rest, otherwise, all the meat juices will run out when you cut it.  Serve with horseradish sauce.   I simply mix 2 parts olive oil mayo with 1 part hot prepared horseradish.

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Along with this recipe, in a 9×13 baking dish, toss sliced carrots, potatoes, and onions with S & P mix, olive oil to coat, and chopped rosemary.  Add a little bit of water or stock to the pan (about a cup) and cook in the 350 degree oven with the roast.  Both will be ready about the same time.

*Find Tommy’s Secret Salt & Pepper Mix in my August post.

Perfect Hunting Boots

Not too long ago, I was flipping through some catalogs and found a darlingly rugged pair of boots that would be “perfect for hunting”, which means that I would look very chic (in a rugged sort of way) strolling around the hunting camp, preparing fabulous meals and sipping wine in these boots. If you are the type of deerslayer’s wife that I am, you would be interested to know that they DO have heavy soles and are waterproof, all while looking great! This pair of awesome boots is sold at Eddie Bauer AND and Cabela’s and probably other retailers as well. They’re Clarks (Neeve Ella Leather Waterproof, $259.99 from Cabela’s ) and I’m providing a photo for everyone’s enjoyment and approval.

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As is typical for South Texas, it’s been warm enough this winter for snakes to still be out. My deerslayer became a snakeslayer the other weekend when we happened upon a six-foot diamondback rattler near our hunting campsite. I have to admit, my amazing “hunting boots” suddenly just didn’t seem to pass muster. Every stick, vine, water hose, and shadow became a snake in my eyes! It didn’t help that stories around the campfire that evening were told of even larger snakes, some that actually struck at unsuspecting hunters. We saw a total of four snakes that weekend! I had to rethink my hunting persona. Could it include clunky snakeproof boots? Damned Straight it could! Here is a photo of my New Hunting Boots for everyone’s enjoyment and approval.

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Don’t think that I’m storing the Clark’s away to collect dust. As soon as we get some weather cool enough to send the snakes retreating to wherever they retreat to, I’ll be struttin’ my stuff in my “other perfect hunting boots”.

Just Cranberry Dessert

I decided that, since it’s deer season, and since I got an awesome set of cast iron cookware for Christmas, and since MY deerslayer is the best husband (and handsomest, too) on the planet, I would bring the ingredients for his favorite dessert of all time, “Cranberry Dessert” and whip one up out at the hunting camp to surprise him. It’s always been his favorite. I got the recipe from his mom, who prepared it for every holiday during which cranberries were available. Now, because I know that it’s his favorite, I always buy extra cranberries when they’re available and toss them (in the bag) in the freezer. Cranberries freeze great and frozen ones can be used in this recipe very easily. No need to thaw first.
Now I understand that your first reaction to this dessert is…. Shouldn’t it have some catchy alliteration of a name, like Crazy Cranberry Concoction? Or Cranberry Confection? Or….. forget it! My deerslayer is not that kind of guy. He wouldn’t be caught dead requesting something like that. Just plain Cranberry Dessert. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me…and you.
I’m hoping that I can convey that preparing a full-fledged baked dessert at a hunting camp can be relatively painless and much appreciated.

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Ingredients can be measured out ahead of time.

Bring just enough cranberries, pecans, sugar, etc. for the recipe. Sandwich sized zip-lock bags are great for measuring out sugar, pecans, and the like. I personally keep a Mason jar full of flour out at the camp. I use it for breading chicken fried venison steaks also so I just keep some out there. I also keep a small bottle of vegetable oil on the shelf. Just be careful to check it periodically so that you don’t accidentally use some that might have turned rancid. My regular camping list always includes a stick of butter ( just because) and eggs. The little plastic containers that lunch meat come in have worked very well for bringing about 5 or 6 eggs depending on the size. With a little bit of planning, you can prepare some pretty impressive and much appreciated desserts not to mention that there will be less stuff to pack up and take home after the camping trip.

Deerslayer’s Favorite Cranberry Dessert
enough fresh cranberries to cover the bottom of a pie plate (about 1 1/2 cups)
enough pecan pieces to cover the cranberries (about 1 cups)
about 1/4 cup of sugar
Batter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tbsp. shortening ( or shortnin’)
1/2 cup flour

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Grease pie plate well.

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Spread cranberries over the bottom, then nuts, then 1/4 cup sugar over both.

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In a bowl, beat egg well, and add 1/2 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly. Add flour, melted butter and shortening (or shortnin’). Beat well.

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Pour batter over the top of cranberry/pecan/sugar layers.
Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes.

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I’ve included the recipe to accommodate a round pie plate. A disposable aluminum one will work just fine. One less dish to wash. One of the things that I love about this dessert is that it is very easily adapted to a 9 x 13 baking dish for larger crowds, larger appetites, or the desire for leftovers (we love this for breakfast with coffee). It’s only important to cover the bottom of the surface with cranberries, pecans, and a sprinkling of sugar. Exact proportions aren’t necessary. The ingredients in the batter can easily be doubled. The cooking time, from my experience, remains the same. Keep in mind that cranberries are acidic and react with aluminum cookware, leaving marks on baking pans and such, but will not affect the flavor. I wanted to use my new cast iron skillet so I used that.
My deerslayer was surprised and pleased. We gathered around the new skillet and dug in. Fewer plates to wash! We were roughing it, after all!


Wild Thing

Wild Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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Now, you need to know that the sandwiches are not wild, the pork is. The pork is not pulled in a wild way, either. Unless you particularly feel like it. Of course, you probably could make these from grocery store pork, but why would you? Wild pork has all the flavor, a little less fat, none of the added antibiotics, hormones, or artificial colors. The thrill of eating meat that you’ve harvested yourself can’t be beat.
This recipe is very easy to prepare for a camping trip (or at home) because the meat is roasted up ahead of time. Basically, you just have to pack

1 to 1 1/2 pounds roasted pork*
about 1/2 cup beef or pork stock as needed
1 cup of bar-b-que sauce of choice (I used Skipkenny Whiskey BBQ Sauce) plus more for pouring
Hamburger Buns
about 2 tbsp. Butter
Hamburger Dills
Onion slices
*Check out my recipe for preparing slow roasted wild meats in my entry “Come and Take It”

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Shred slow roasted meat into a skillet. Add a small amount of stock and enough Bar-B-Que sauce to coat. I used Skipkenny Whiskey BBQ Sauce.
I discovered this amazing sauce at the Farmers’ Market in San Antonio. The company is actually based out of New Braunfels, TX. You can reach Skipkenny BBQ at 830-214-5722 or e-mail at skipkennybbq@yahoo.com. The flavor of the sauce that I purchased really pops and enhances the the flavor of the meat. It got thumbs up from every member of my deerslayer family. There are so many BBQ sauces on the market, it’s not often that one really stands out. This one, however, is my new favorite! Since I don’t live in New Braunfels, I’ll be ordering a case to fill my all my BBQ needs.

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Allow the liquid to reduce slightly. Meanwhile, liberally butter a cast iron griddle and toast the hamburger buns.

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Serve up this super easy meal with hamburger dills and onion slices. Offer potato salad and beans as a side. You’ll be held in high esteem by your camping family.

How to be the Queen of the Hunting Camp

(Percolated Coffee)

Things just aren’t the same as they used to be. In the old Westerns, the beautiful leading lady would ride up on a horse, her make-up fully intact, hair perfect. She’d slide off the side of said horse into the arms of John Wayne. He’d grasp her 18 inch waist and whisk her off to the camp site where she’d roll her own cigarette and make a pot of percolated coffee on the fire. Wow! Hold the phone! Everything else was lost on me. Percolated coffee? How the hell did she do that? Where did she plug that thing in? Surely camera magic was in play! Women used to be so amazing! (Sure, before I start getting hate mail, I know we’re still pretty damned amazing. We do more than percolate coffee. But you have to admit that there was something about those women…)
After years of apologizing in advance every time I arrived at any campsite for my embarrassing lack of knowledge of all things campy, I decided to take the bull by the …uh… horns, Master the campsite. Yes, I decided to become the “Queen of the Hunting Camp”.
The 18 inch waist was there (plus enough to make a few more leading ladies). I could master the make-up and a cute cowgirl hat covers a multitude of sins. I don’t smoke and rolling your own really leans toward the 70’s. Don’t want to give away my age.
However, I learned that any camp-goers will cheer and make a queen of anyone who will produce coffee in the morning! If that coffee is percolated, heads will reel, people will fall to their knees in awe and praise, everyone will want to have their pictures taken with the “chick who can make coffee in a percolator”.
It is within your grasp to don the title “Queen of the Hunting Camp”.

Here’s what you need:
A GOOD percolator! I bought 2 different cheap ones before I invested in a good quality model. It really doesn’t pay to buy a super cheap one because they have a multitude of problems that might make you want to give up and head for the nearest Starbucks. (Don’t do it. Your reputation is at stake!)

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Look for these things:
stainless steel construction throughout (including the insert) – I’ve seen some really nice enameled percolators. These are fine but usually don’t have an insulated handle, glass button top, or sturdy construction of the insert. If you find a great enameled one, look for these elements (and let me know)! They’re really cool and retro. I just haven’t found one that has everything I need.
a sturdy insert that doesn’t wobble, and (this is really important) a lid that fits securely on the insert basket so the grounds don’t spill out

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an insulated handle – It gets pretty hot. Mine is made of wood. Keep in mind your heat source. If you are intending to use a campfire or the like, you won’t want any plastic or rubber parts. By the same token, medal handles will require you to have a pot holder or cloth nearby.
a glass button on top – This allows you to see how your coffee is progressing as it perks up through the stem.
When purchasing a percolator, you also need to consider how many cups of coffee you will be preparing. When we go to Wyoming for the family camp trip, there are usually 40 to 50 people at any given time. I was tempted to get a huge honkin’ percolator from Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, or Army Surplus to accommodate them all. When we head out to the hunting camp, however, there’s usually just my immediate family, only two of whom drink coffee. I came to the conclusion that I can always make several pots of coffee for a larger crowd and that most of my camping during the year is for just a few people so I decided on the average sized percolator. Some of the larger models can, of course, do double duty as a hot tub.
Making percolator coffee
You will need:
coarsely ground coffee – I’ve made it countless times with regular canned coffee. The problem for me (maybe it won’t bother you as much) is that the grind used for automatic drip coffeemakers is slightly too fine for the basket of the percolator and grounds will inevitably end up in the coffee. By letting the coffee rest for a couple of minutes after it’s perked, and removing the insert before pouring, you can minimize the fiber from your coffee!  Most grocers have a “grind your own” section now. If grounds in your coffee bother you, you may consider going this route. Adjust the grind to “Coarse” and it will perc a great cup of coffee sans the stuff in your teeth!  My new favorite coffee of choice for the hunting camp is roasted right here in the great state of Texas, Brenham to be exact.  Jet Fuel is the variety. Deep, rich flavor. Independence Coffee Company (www.independencecoffee.com) is worth looking into.  I love to endorse local businesses!  I’m planning on a field trip to check things out (at Blue Bell Ice Cream, too, while I’m in the area)

good water – Bring several bottles of good drinking water just for your coffee. It really does make a difference in how the coffee disperses throughout.
a heat source – Know ahead of time what type of heat source you will be using; grill over a campfire, a camp stove, or a camper cooktop.

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Remove the insert from your coffeepot and fill the pot with water, using the coffee mugs from which you will be drinking to measure. Be careful not to fill so full as to reach the insert basket. Keep in mind that most coffee mugs are NOT 8 ounce cups. So a percolator that holds 10 cups will not fill 10 coffee mugs. My ruggedly cute enamalware mugs each hold 2 cups, for example.

Place coffee pot on your heat source so that it will begin to boil while you fill the insert basket.
Remove the lid from the insert basket and fill with one tablespoon of coffee grounds for each 8 oz. of water. Replace lid and place insert carefully into the percolator (it will be very hot at this point). Allow water to continue to boil for about ten minutes depending on how strong you like your coffee.* If using a camp stove or cooktop, once water begins to boil, turn down heat and continue to boil for ten minutes for strong coffee. You can check the progress of your coffee through the glass button in the lid.
I’d like to apologize for what may be considered unnecessarily drawn out and complicated instructions. Before I finally figured out how to be the hunting camp queen, I surfed the web and found many single paragraph descriptions for the perfect cup of camp coffee. They each seemed to leave out some important bit of info. Could it have been a conspiracy instigated by OTHER camping queens? Something to think about!

*Every heat source is different, as is each person’s preference for coffee strength. Sadly, this is really a trial and error endeavor. Don’t give up, however! After several tries, you will have perfected the process!

This Little Piggy…

.. ended up on our dinner table. It was delicious.

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This past weekend we participated in the South Texas version of autumn hunting. It was 80 degrees during the day and in the 60s at night. There was no bundling up against the cold, sipping hot chocolate. We did, however have a great campfire in a very nice fire pit. There was a constant gulf breeze that made the evening and nighttime very pleasant. There is nothing that compares to sitting around a campfire, leaning back in a camp chair and watching the stars!
My deerslayers harvested some wonderful wild pig. It is not the same as javelina. Wild pork is heavenly meat that doesn’t have the added fat from force-feeding, or the hormones, dyes, or antibiotics that commercially raised pork could.
These pigs are feral hogs that escaped domestic life about 400 years ago when the Spanish were trapsing across the country looking for gold. These wild pigs reproduced with abandon and have taken over much of Texas. Farmers and ranchers alike are eager to be rid of the animals because they root up the land about as much passion as they reproduce. Right! With abandon! They can decimate entire areas in little time. Anyway, the point is that the ranchers and farmers are as pleased to have us harvest the pigs as we are to do so.

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I love to prepare this meat. Even more, I love having it in the freezer. As I’ve mentioned previously, my freezer was bare for the first time in 28 years so I was very excited when my deerslayers dragged in some of God’s bounty. With the hams, shanks, fore-quarters, backstraps, tenderloins, and soup meat, I can prepare any number of great meals. It makes me feel “self-sustaining”. I’m even going to take a walk on the wild side and prepare the liver and heart tonight. I’ll get back to you on that one. If any of you have recipes for pork organ meat, let me know!

Our first celebratory meal from our pig harvest was a seared pork backstrap with balsamic reduction, steamed broccoli and (gasp) Velveeta cheese sauce. Don’t scoff until you’ve tried it. The cheese sauce is a nod to one of my mentors, Christine Friesenhahn of Texana’s Kitchen in her entry, “White Trash Wednesday”.

Seared Pork Backstrap with Balsamic Reduction and
Steamed Broccoli with Velveeta Cheese Sauce of Awesomeness
Serves about 4 people
1 wild pork backstrap
salt & pepper mix
olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (I recently found the BEST Texas balsamic vinegars and olive oils at a farmers’ market in San Antonio. What a great variety of interesting flavors. Ya gotta try ’em.Texas Olive Ranch.) I used the pomegranate balsamic vinegar for this recipe! Wow!
broccoli florettes

Velveeta cheese sauce of Awesomeness
1/4 brick of Velveeta, cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
a scant sprinkling of cayenne

I’m going to start this recipe with a tutorial on cutting a backstrap in preparation for cooking.

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The backstrap is a pretty long muscle.

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First, I use my favorite filleting knife to remove the white layer of “skin”or fascia.

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Then I cut it into three pieces of equal length that will fit easily into my cast iron skillet.

Liberally season the meat on all sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder mix.

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Sear the backstrap in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.

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Then place the browned meat in a 9 x 13 oven-proof pan and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The time will vary slightly depending on how long you seared it, how hot the pan was, etc. Because we’re cooking pork, it’s important that the meat be adequately cooked through, but not dry. Since the muscle is thicker on one end that the other, place the thinnest 1/3 between the other two. This will prevent the skinny piece from overcooking.

Twenty minutes usually is enough time for a medium sized wild pig. My daughter wants everyone to know that it’s important that the ovenproof pan NOT have a plastic cutting board under it when it’s placed in the oven. ‘Nuf said.
While the meat is resting for the required 10 minutes, steam some broccoli and pour some balsamic vinegar into the skillet in which you browned the meat.

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Use a whisk to scrape up the crusty yumminess that was left behind.

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If you’re using a balsamic glaze, you’re ready to go with an elegant sauce for your meat. you’re using balsamic vinegar, heat the sauce until it reduces and thickens. (Don’t forget the great olive oils and balsamic vinegars that are available from Texas Olive Ranch. I bought six!)

After you slice the meat, add the remaining meat juices to the sauce.

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Sometimes, I prepare a side of quinoa, also. Very elegant, kid-friendly, and super fast. Hunter-friendly and fabulous, too!

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.

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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