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Lovely and Delicate Wild Pork and Mushroom Quiche

DSC_0116When it comes to food and the important role that it plays in our lives,  it is not surprising that some foods seem to form connections in our minds with events and special times.  Bar-b-que and beer make most people think of outdoor get-togethers with family and friends, laughing and telling stories.  Mexican food and beer… same. Football and hot wings. Hotdogs and baseball. And for many,  quiche conjures up images of brunch… with mimosas… and ladies in hats.

No deer slayer in his right mind would be a part such a scenario. But throw some wild pork sausage into the mix, and his interest will be piqued. Suddenly quiche is transformed into a hearty and savory manly meat and egg pie. Perfect for a Father’s Day breakfast. It’s all in how you present it.

This recipe allowed me to use some of the 55 pounds of ground wild pork in my freezer.  My experimentation with wild pork pan sausage began with maple pan sausage.  Because I use my one-pound packages of ground pork for a number of recipes, I never know if I’ll want it for pan sausage, or to mix with venison for burgersmeatloaf, or lasagna, or some other new recipe.  With that in mind, I season up my wild pork sausage one pound at a time as needed depending on whether I’m in the mood for maple, traditional with sage, or Italian sausage.  That way, I’m never left with a freezer full of the wrong sausage for my recipe or mood.

I’ve had a great deal of luck with LEM brand:

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I photographed the Sweet Italian variety (which is great) but for this recipe, I actually used the “regular” flavor, with some added rubbed sage.

 

Wild Pork and Mushroom Quiche

(Manly Meat and Egg Pie)

This recipe has 3 steps; preparing the sausage, preparing the crust (or use a prepared crust), and preparing the filling.

The Sausage:

1 lb. coarsely ground wild pork (The quiche will only use about ½ of the cooked pork)

3 tsp. LEM brand sausage seasoning

1 tsp. dried sage

1 oz. water (about an 1/8 of a cup)

To start this recipe, I mixed up a batch of LEM brand traditional sausage seasoning with my ground wild pork. Although the instructions suggest 2 teaspoons from the seasoning packet, I found that 3 produced the intensity of flavor that I was looking for.

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In a small glass bowl, I mixed the seasoning, 1 tsp. of dried, rubbed sage, and about an eighth of a cup of water.

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I poured the mixture into the ground pork and worked it in with my hands until the seasonings were fully incorporated into the meat.

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Then I cooked up the newly prepared sausage in a skillet and set aside.

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Next, I prepared the crust using a recipe I got from The Lard Cookbook:

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Preparing the crust:

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1¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour plus more for dusting

 1 tsp. salt

½ cup cold and coursely chopped lard

3 tablespoons ice cold water

For the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut in the lard until the mixture is a very fine crumble, about the size of peas. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and combine just until the mixture sticks together..Form the dough into a ball and press into a disc.  Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes*.

*While the dough is chilling, prepare your filling

Prepare a work surface by sprinkling with flour, and roll out into a disc that will fit your pie plate. I always lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough as I roll it out. It gives me more control and allows me to lift the dough more easily into the dish and press it into place without tearing the crust.

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Trim excess from around the edges and place in the fridge until you are ready to add filling.

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Preparing the filling:

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  • a glug of olive oil ( about 1 tbsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • seasoned salt, a scant amount to taste (I use Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix)
  • about ½ lb. prepared, crumbled, and cooked wild pork sausage
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup half & half
  • 1 cup grated cheese    (Any good gratable cheese will do, according to your preference)

Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet.  Add chopped onion and mushrooms and a sprinkling of seasoned salt.  Use sparingly since the sausage is quite flavorful. Stir ingredients around until onions are almost caramelized.

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Spread onion and mushroom mixture over the  bottom of the prepared crust.

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This photo is actually from a previous cooking session.  The sausage is under the mushroom/onion mixture which is why the quiche is soooo full.

Sprinkle cooked sausage over that.  There will be sausage left over.  That’s okay!  Use any extra in breakfast burritos!

 

Combine eggs, half & half, and grated cheese. Beat with a fork.

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Pour over other ingredients until full.

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Place quiche on a cookie sheet and put in a 350° oven for 25-35 minutes or until set and browned on top.

DSC_0079  Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

Happy Father’s Day, Deerslayers!

 

 

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Cheaters’ Wild Pork Ribs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Corned Nilgai

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

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

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

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

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

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Promise me that you’ll try it!

 
 

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Spicy Marinara Venison Burgers

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The other day, a wine-induced conversation ensued in the Deerslayer household regarding the best of all culinary goodness . Is pasta better than pizza?  Is seared venison tenderloin superior to chicken-fried venison steak? In our family, I have to admit that pasta, cheese, bread, and garlic topped the list since junior deerslayers were voting as well (only one is old enough to partake in the wine, however). Of course, because we are a deerslayer household, wild game made it into the top 10.

One of the daughters makes a killer spicy marinara that is a favorite addition to pasta and wild game alike. With that in mind, a little brainstorming resulted in the following recipe. Beautifully seasoned venison, sliced mozzarella, fabulously flavorful marinara, crusty ciabatta, and peppery arugula came together to create the perfect combination of flavors, the consummate burger.

Spicy Marinara Venison Burgers

(1 lb. of ground meat makes about 3 burgers)

The Sauce

Balsamic glaze is a good way to add intense flavor without adding too much liquid. Balsamic vinegar can be used but you might need to simmer for a few extra minutes.

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup finely chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

1  28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

¼ red wine

a blop of balsamic glaze (about a tbsp) (I used balsamic glaze because that’s what I had.  Balsamic vinegar will be fine, too)

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a high-sided cast iron skillet, saute′ finely chopped onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes.  Add cayenne, white pepper, and oregano.  Stir around to let the olive oil work its magic on the spices.  Add garlic and continue to stir for about a minute.  Don’t let the garlic brown.

Add tomatoes, wine, balsamic glaze or vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer while you assemble the burgers.

The Burger

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1 lb. ground venison (or elk, nilgai, or wild pork)

2 tbsp. chopped garlic

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1 egg

1 tsp.dried oregano, crushed in your palms

fresh mozzarella, sliced, brought to room temperature

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Combine all ingredients expect mozzarella in a bowl.

Each burger will require two very thin patties of the same size. Place mozzarella on one patty. Leave room around the edge to seal shut.

Making the meat patties on plastic wrap allows me to shape and move them around easily.

Place one meat patty atop the other.

Press around the edges to seal the mozzarella inside.

The cooking method you use to prepare the meat is up to you. The burgers can be grilled or cooked in a hot skillet or griddle.  Because the meat is so lean, be sure to use a little oil to prevent the patties from sticking to the cooking surface.  I used a hot cast iron skillet, being sure to allow meat to sear, then lowering the heat enough to make sure that they heat through and melt the cheese.

Assembling the Burgers

Ciabatta Rolls

Olive oil

Cooked Meat Patties

Spicy Marinara

Arugula

Thinly sliced red onion (optional)

Drizzle olive oil on split ciabatta rolls. Toast under the broiler or on the grill for a few minutes.

Assemble burgers on a bed of arugula placed atop the toasted ciabatta. Liberally spread spicy marinara over the meat. top with thinly sliced onion, if desired.

 

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Goat Cheese-Filled Venison Meatballs

borsht and meatballs 075  One day, after a couple glasses of wine, I decided that I wanted to come up with a recipe that combined my favorite flavors into a single Deerslayer-worthy dish.  Pasta with a delicious sauce full of bright, fresh flavor, and venison meatballs.  Not just plain ol’ venison meatballs, though. Something spectacular, with a surprising burst of flavor!   Sounds almost scary, don’t it?  I was drinking, don’t forget!  In a sudden brainstorm, it occured to me that goat cheese would make a perfect filling.  Yup.  I pulled ingredients from all over the kitchen, raced to the freezer for ground venison, and snipped herbs from the garden.

The results were pleasing, worth sharing.  Worth preparing again… and again.  Just typing it up makes my mouth water. I hope you like it, too.

Easy-Peasy Sauce

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a splash of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

28 oz. of crushed tomatoes

some fresh or dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

a few sprigs of fresh basil

Because the meatballs are the star of this show, I wanted the sauce to be simple with a clean taste.

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In a cast iron skillet, saute garlic in some olive oil. Add tomatoes and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add basil at the end as a garnish.

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Simmer while you work on the meatballs.

Meatballs

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1 lb. ground venison (or venison and pork, or nilgai,…you get it.)

1 cup of bread crumbs, divided

1 egg

½ onion, super-finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely diced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. black pepper

about 8 oz. plain or herbed goat cheese (not crumbly)

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In a large bowl, thoroughly mix venison, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, and remaining ingredients except goat cheese.

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Use a teaspoon or cute scoopy thing to make small spherical shapes from the goat cheese. Or balls, if you must.

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A small amount of olive oil rubbed on your hands will allow you to rather easily roll the goat cheese into cute little balls.

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Go ahead and make up several so that you don’t have to mess with it later.

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Now you’re ready to begin making the meatballs.

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Take a small amount of the meatball mixture, about the size of a lemon, and flatten it into the palm of your hand. Place a ball of goat cheese into the center so that the meat can be brought around to completely cover the cheese.

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Continue until all the meat mixture has been used up. Pour remaining 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs into a small dish.

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Roll each meatball around in the breadcrumb mixture to cover.

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Place enough olive oil into a deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven to cover the bottom of the skillet. Heat to medium high heat. Add meatballs, a few at a time, to the skillet and brown on all sides. Remove to another plate until all meatballs have been browned.

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Very carefully, so as not to break them open, roll the meatballs around until all sides are browned.

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To the original deep-sided skillet or dutch oven full of sauce, add as many meatballs as will fit. Leftover meatballs can be frozen for later use. Using a spoon, cover meatballs with sauce. Water, tomato sauce or broth can be added to produce extra volume.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

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Serve over the pasta of your choice with some fresh basil. Hope you love it. Let me know.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Cheese Enchiladas with Nilgai (or Venison) Chili Con Carne

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Let it be known, here and now, that the Deerslayer’s wife loves Tex-Mex food.  I always have and I always will. The evolution of the mix of traditional Mexican cuisine with what was available in Texas in the early days of our great state resulted in nothing short of heaven. The many variations of this particular style of cooking are as limitless as the families who have passed the recipes down and the regions from which they came.  I’ve adapted many of my favorites to work with the wild game that fills my freezer.  Thus far, I’ve shared wild game recipes for faux barbacoapicadillo, carne guisada, venison and wild pork enchiladas with creamy poblano sauce, beans with wild pork shank, and others.

cheese enchiladas 003My all-time favorite Tex-Mex recipe has to be cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, though.  The melted cheese, and, ohhhh, the chili con carne.  The rich flavor of comino (cumin) in a spicy gravy combined with carne (meat, in this case, ground) poured over sharp cheddar cheese wrapped in corn tortillas has to be what St. Peter will have waiting for me in heaven!

While I appreciate a shortcut as much as the next person, I draw the line at canned enchilada sauce.  I can always tell when it’s used at a restaurant and I promptly scratch the offending restaurant from my list of haunts.  For several years, I’d thought about adapting my carne guisada recipe to use over cheese enchiladas.  Last week I tried it and it was a huge hit, a new addition to the Deerslayer clan list of favorites.

Cheese Enchiladas with Venison or Nilgai Chili Con Carne

1 lb. ground nilgai or venison (or wild pork)

2-3 Tbsp. bacon grease (Most venison recipes require the addition of some extra grease or fat since the meat is so lean and, let’s face it, everything tastes better with bacon!)

1/2 large bell pepper, diced

1/2  onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes (with or w/o chilies, like Rotel,  to taste)

2 tsp. garlic salt

½ to 1 cup water

 In a cast iron skillet, brown ground meat.  There won’t be any fat to drain off if you use venison or nilgai.  Remove browned meat from skillet.

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 Heat bacon grease in same skillet.  Saute’ onion and bell pepper in bacon drippings.  Add garlic and stir around for a minute or two.

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  Sprinkle flour over sauteed veggies and incorporate. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered.

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  With an immersion blender, create a relatively smooth sauce.

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 Add ground meat back into the skillet and simmer for an additional few minutes.

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To make the cheese enchiladas:

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I like to keep it simple!

In a skillet, heat enough corn or vegetable oil to cover the bottom about ¼ inch.  You can tell the oil is hot enough when you see small ripples on the surface.  Using tongs, lightly dip a corn tortilla in the oil until soft enough to roll.  Dipping the tortillas in oil keeps them soft through the baking.

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I found these rubber-tipped tongs that don’t tear up the tortillas.

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Sprinkle a nice thick line of sharp cheddar cheese of your choice down the center of the softened tortilla.

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Roll enchiladas and arrange in a 9×13 oven-safe pan.

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Arrange, seam-side-down, to fill the pan. The great thing about this recipe is that you can prepare as many or as few enchiladas as you need. At this stage, you place additional enchiladas in the freezer, in zip bags.  Pour chili con carne over enchiladas to cover and sprinkle with extra cheese.

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until cheese melts and chili bubbles. Add to your favorite recipes!

 
11 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Nilgai, Recipes, Uncategorized, Venison

 

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Chinese Venison with Broccoli and Sugar Snap Peas

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No, this is not an authentic recipe. No, I don’t know if the Chinese eat venison at all.  I DO know that this is a recipe that uses venison in its purest form, seared and deliciously rare. It also incorporates Asian flavors like fresh ginger, garlic, sesame, red pepper flakes and soy sauce that compliment the meat.  That is VERY important. Like most of my dishes, this one has evolved.  It started out as a recipe from a friend who prepared it using beef for her family.  It required the dredging of beef strips in flour and flash-frying.  If you prefer it that way, go ahead.

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You will need:

one venison tenderloin, cleaned of sinew and fashia

salt & pepper mix

oil

1 bunch broccoli crowns

2 handfuls sugar snap peas

1 bunch chives, green parts chopped in 1 inch slices (cut on the diagonal if you want it to look pretty and if you’re O.C.D. like I am)

2 tbsp. chopped garlic

Preheat oven to 350°.  Season tenderloin liberally with salt & pepper mix.  Add oil to the bottom of a deep cast iron skillet.and heat oil on high.  Sear tenderloin on all sides until beautifully crusted.

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 Place in oven-safe dish and bake for 10-15 minutes. While meat rests, steam broccoli and sugar snap peas just until tender crisp, about 15 minutes.

In the same cast iron skillet, saute′ garlic and chives.

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For Sauce

In 2-cup jar, combine and shake:

1 3/4 cups beef stock

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp. corn starch

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Add later:

Sprinkling of red pepper flakes

Sprinkling of sesame seeds

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Pour all but 1/2 cup into skillet.  To the remaining 1/2 cup, add cornstarch and shake.  Add to skillet and stir. Turn on heravioli, chinese venison 013at to medium high.

Add steamed veggies and red pepper flakes . Continue stirring until sauce thickens.  Add  sliced tenderloin. Stir to coat with sauce. Add red pepper flakes and sesame seeds.  Serve over rice. Enjoy.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Hunting, Recipes, Venison

 

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