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Tag Archives: Venison

Successful Hunt? You decide!

2014-11-12 21.06.10

Okay, it was the first day of deer season in South Texas.  For the first time in quite a few years, Deerslayer headed out alone since the girls and I were had a previous commitment.  At daybreak, he scored this very nice ten-point, which weighed in at 185 pounds.

Within the next  24 hours, he added (you better sit down for this!) 6 wild pigs.  There were two pigzillas and 4 succulent, tender, I mean cute, little wild porkers.  What is it they say about too much of a good thing?

It’s important to remember that ranchers in these parts are always grateful to have the feral hogs eradicated from their property.  Wild pigs do lots of damage to crops and land, rooting for grubs and such.20141102_103016

Over the years, as all of you know,  I’ve become a huge fan of wild pork.  The more I use it, the more I appreciate the mild, lean, sweet meat.  The roasts, cook-all-day spicy pork butt and the resulting pulled pork sandwiches, tenderloin, steaks, bbq forequarter, and pan sausage. And don’t forget the fabulous smoked pork shanks!  Nowadays, I couldn’t live without them in beans, split pea soup, etc.   I will always make room in the freezer for some wild pork.  But SIX?

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Look at the tusks on that middle pig.

As fate would have it, Deerslayer’s brother was visiting from Dallas that weekend and was lamenting the fact that he had completely depleted his wild game stores.  His freezers were bare!  And with three big, strapping boys, it was a real issue.  Problem solved.  Brother went home with two of the pigs, leaving us with four pigs to process and package up.  Yay!  I say this a little sarcastically.  While I love wild game and thoroughly enjoy experimenting with new recipes, a project such as this monumental task left me a little less than enthusiastic.

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While the pig looks like it’s backlit and in the shadows, it’s pretty well blackened from the flame thrower.

Deerslayer (a.k.a. pigslayer)  had a few monumental tasks of his own before he even had a chance to “bring home the bacon”, as it were.  Hee hee

Down in this neck of the woods, these wild pigs have a tendency to have their fair share of ticks and fleas, which makes skinning them pretty unpleasant… unless you enjoy that whole primal ritual of checking each others’ nooks and crannies for the little critters.  I do not.  Neither does Deerslayer or the juniors.  “Necessity is the mother of invention”, ya know.  So Deerslayer created a device that seared the hair off the pigs while providing a pyrotechnics show of sorts.  Using a flamethrower and propane tank,(yeah, baby!) he was able to burn the hair (and any offending fleas and ticks) off the carcasses.  In the picture, you can see the propane tank and the hose that attached to the flamethrower.

Granted, the smell, I’m told, was less than pleasant but the pigs were hair- and critter-free.  A quick squirt with a hose and brush made the process much less worrisome.  The junior pigslayers and I were greatly disappointed that we missed the “show”.  Apparently, it was a sight to behold.  A display of genius!

We excitedly await the next opportunity to head out to the ranch so that I can do a video tutorial on the “flaming pig” process.  Perhaps it will go viral!

 

 
 

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If I Could Save Time in a Bottle…

the first thing that I’d like to do … is buy several cases and hide them under my bed!

This little hint has turned into a real time saver.  Every so often, I slow-cook up a roasting pan full of venison and/or wild pork (Check out how to do it in my entry, “Come and Take It”).  About a week ago, I cooked up about 10 pounds of wild pork.  I divided it into one-pound portions, bagged it up, and froze it.

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 Zip-lock has a product that sucks the air out of the special bags. (The glass of wine is optional but present in most of my kitchen ventures.)

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Most of my recipes use about a pound of meat.

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This little gadget is so much faster than pulling out the vacuum-sealer.  The special bags are available in two sizes.  I always stock up right before hunting season.  As I cook up meat later in the year, however, I also use these bags for packaging up portions of cooked meat for recipes such as Wild Pork and Guinness Stew, Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Venison Pot Pie, and many others. It’s so easy to thaw out a bag of meat in a bowl of water while I grab the other ingredients.  Hope this saves you some time, too.

 

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Waste Not Want Not

Waste Not Want Not

Venison Bolillo Tortas (Sandwiches)

I’ve said before that, when it comes to hunting, it’s important to me to use as much of a harvested animal as possible. While my part in the hunting process is limited to preparation of the meat, I feel strongly about not having any waste.  If an animal is harvested, we should use every bit.   My recipes reflect this philosophy as much as my family’s choice to process our own meat, making use of every possible cut.

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Previously, I’ve shared my recipe for bacon-wrapped garlic venison roast.  It’s a favorite with my family.  Often, we will have leftovers.  I created the following recipe to use any leftover slices of roast. The slices should be rare to medium rare.  Any end bits are too overcooked for this sandwich recipe and can be thrown into a zip bag and frozen for later use in soup, stew, or pot pie

*On a separate note, it has been brought to my attention by an unnamed junior deerslayer that sometimes my recipes have not photographed as appetizingly as they are in real life.  Apparently, I will be editing some of my previous posts (this one, included) by producing some more visually-appealing photos.  Stay tuned.

Venison Bolillo Tortas (Sandwiches)

pronounced bo-lee-yo

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Thinly sliced venison (leftover from a roast), nice and rare

Bolillos (Mexican Rolls)

1 large onion, sliced

Approx. 20 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced (2 bags)

1 1/2 sticks of butter

Tommy’s Secret Salt & Pepper Mix

Sliced avocado

Thinly sliced Swiss or cheddar cheese (enough for each sandwich)

Spicy, stone ground mustard and/or

Horseradish sauce w/ mayo

(You may notice that there is no avocado in the photo.  I make no excuses.  Sorry, I forgot.)

  • 1.  Thinly slice leftover rare venison roast, carefully removing any sinewy and gristly   bits

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2.  Sauté onions in butter in a cast iron skillet until caramelized.  Season with Salt &    Pepper mix.

3.  Because I have a junior deerslayer who isn’t a devotee of onions, I set the onions aside in a bowl while the mushrooms sauté in the same pan.  Apparently, it’s okay for the mushrooms to benefit from the flavor of the onions as long as ne’er the two shall meet.  If you’re okay with sauteed onions WITH the mushrooms, the mushrooms can be added to the caramelizing onions in the skillet.

4.  Slice bolillos in half. Place, cut side down,  on a hot, well-buttered griddle.  Smear around to coat cut edge with butter and toast until nicely browned.

5.  Assemble the sandwiches.  Start with mustard or horseradish/mayo spread.  Top with venison, sautéed onion (if you can stand it), mushrooms, avocado, and a slice of cheese.

Place sandwich bottoms (assembled part) on a cookie sheet and broil until cheese melts.

Add top of toasted bolillo, slather with extra spread if desired, and enjoy.  Delicioso!

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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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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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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.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Hunting, Recipes, Venison

 

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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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