Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chuck Wagon Chili

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A staple in the diets of early cowboys and pioneers, chili played a considerable role in the founding of our great American West. It's hot, spicy, and filling, making it the perfect grub for days of killer saddle sores and unrelenting cattle drives. This recipe makes a lot of chili, so make sure you have good company to share it with. 

Yep. Chili. That's how the West was won.

Servings: 12
- 1 lb ground venison
- 1 lb diced venison
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic salt; salt, to taste
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 5 tbs. chili powder
- 2 cans of red beans (15 oz each)
- 2 cans of refried beans (15 oz each)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz)
- 1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz)
- 2 tbs. molasses  
- Shredded mozzarella, for sprinkling
- Cornbread, a must!

 1. Trim and remove silver skin from 1 lb of venison stew meat and cut into small bite-sized pieces.  
2. In a large pot, heat up 1 tsp. olive oil and add in the chopped onions. 

3. Once the onions soften, add the stew meat and the ground venison and brown. While the meat browns, break up the ground venison with your spoon to prevent large chunks.
4. Once meat browns, stir in the re-fried beans and red beans, liquid and all. You don't have to cook the venison all the way through before adding the beans. It will continue to cook later.

5. Stir in the crushed red pepper, garlic salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.

 6. Stir in the cans of chopped tomato and tomato sauce. Add water and salt to taste.

 7. Then the molasses. Cover and simmer on low for one hour. If after the hour you still think the chili is too thin, take off the lid and continue to cook until thickened. Or you can do this before the hour is up. 

8. Ladle chili in serving bowls and sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top. Enjoy with some corn bread and coffee.

Mr. Gingerbread Man had an accident.... :-)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lipton Mint Iced Tea

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Sooo... it's been a few days after we made the Lemongrass Venison, and there's still a TON of mint leaves left. Here's a refreshing way to get rid of it.

- 1 Lipton black tea bag
- 5 mint leaves, 1 sprig for garnish
- Hot water
- 2 tsp. of honey
- Ice cubes

Boil some hot water. You'd only need enough to fill 1/3 of a tall glass. Crush the mint leaves with a pestle in the glass. Pour the hot water 1/3 of the way, and steep the tea bag as much as you can. Once you've finished, toss the bag and stir in the honey. Fill the glass to the rim with ice, and garnish. Yum!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Lemongrass Venison and Vermicelli Salad

Download Printable Recipe (You will go to MedaFire.) 
 (Bun Thit Nai Nuong)
Bun-Noodle; Thit-meat; Nai- deer; Nuong- grilled

In case you've been wondering, I (Jenny) owe my ethnic roots to Vietnam. I grew up eating hamburgers and french fries, like any other American kid, so it wasn't until I got older that I began to appreciate food from my home country. This is a dish my mom used to make all the time, except with beef. Lemongrass is deliciously unique, and I think it works well with the venison. You should be able to find most of the ingredients in the international section of your local grocery store (at least in California). If not, take a venture down to the Asian part of town. People may stare, but don't fret. Contrary to popular belief, not all Asians know kung-fu. Just one in every two. :-)

Servings: 2 
- 3/4 lb thinly sliced venison 
- 1 tbs. sesame oil
- 1 tbs. (to taste) Sriracha Sauce
- 4 tbs. ground lemon grass
- 3 tbs. Hoisin Sauce
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion 
- 1 bag rice vermicelli sticks, also called Bun Giang Tay (use half, most bags serve 3-4)
- Olive oil

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3 tsp. sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbs. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. lemon juice

- Fresh chopped herb/mint leaves, any kind you like. See step 8.
- Sliced cucumber/ cabbage- something with crunch
- Chopped roasted peanuts

Do steps 1 and 2 ahead of time. Rice noodles take awhile to dry. It will keep at room temperature for a day.

1. Soak half of the noodles (if serving 2) in water for about 20 minutes, or until pliable. This makes the boiling process easier. The noodles are more apt to break if boiled right out of the bag. 

2. Bring water to a boil. Cook the noodles for 5-8 minutes, or until tender but still firm. Drain in a colander and flush with cold tap water for one minute. Leave to drain thoroughly before serving. 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours.

3. Remove silver skin from venison, slice thinly.

 4. In a bowl, combine the venison, Hoisin sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil, onion, and 3 tbs. of the ground lemon grass. Reserve 1 tbs. for later. 

Note: You can buy lemon grass and grind it yourself. Here is a video on how to cut into lemon grass. Or, if available, frozen pre-ground lemon grass works great and saves a lot of time. It's sold in the frozen section of Vietnamese/Asian supermarkets.

  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let the venison marinate for at least two hours in the fridge. 

 6. Meanwhile, crush chili peppers and garlic cloves into a pulp using a mortar and pestle. Add sugar, about a tsp. or more, to keep the juices from splashing.

 7. In a small bowl, combine water, fish sauce, garlic and chili pulp, 2 tsp. sugar, and lemon juice. If you have the pickled carrots/daikon, put some in there too. Note: This recipe actually makes more nuoc mam than you will need for two people.

8. Before cooking the meat, slice up some cucumbers or cabbage. Chop herbs/mint leaves. 
 Here's a list to help you.  Vietnamese Herb Primer.
Typical herbs that I often see served with this dish are mint (both kinds listed), Vietnamese balm, and purple perilla. 

9. Arrange noodles and greens in bowls.

Vietnamese people have a thing for herbs. I only used mint (Mentha x gracilis) here, but this dish is traditionally served with all kinds of herbs and mints mixed together. It's up to you, how much you want to go crazy with it. Rick's not fussy, and will eat just about anything. Like pigs feet.... Sometimes I wonder... But I'm a little more particular. When I was a kid, all I ate was meat and noodles. Nothing else. But you really lose the whole point of the dish if you do that. This is supposed to be something fresh, cool, and herb-y. Lots and lots of greens!

THE VENISON IS BETTER GRILLED. This dish is traditionally grilled. If you have access to one, please do so!

10. Heat olive oil in a wok, and sprinkle some of the remaining lemon grass. Wait until it browns and becomes aromatic, then add 1/2 of your marinated venison. Cook about 1 minute each side. My mom has always said that the key to making good food is to make it in small batches, not all at once. 

12. Place the cooked venison on top of your noodles and greens in the first bowl. Repeat for the second bowl.

13. Dress with Nuoc Mam (to taste), chopped roasted peanuts (optional), chili paste (to taste), and pickled carrots/daikon. Mix together and eat like a salad. It's a cool meal for a hot summer's day, or any day! Iced tea is good with everything. 

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Venison Cottage Pie

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Hearty and delicious, shepherd's pie has always been a favorite. We thought we'd try using venison instead of lamb. If you don't use lamb, the right terminology is "cottage" pie. I've stumbled across a few forums  about this... let's just say, some English people get a little hostile if you don't use the right word.

Servings: 4
- 2 tsp. olive oil, extra for drizzling
- Sea salt and black paper
- 1-1/4 lb venison, diced small
- 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely grated
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbs. tomato paste
- 2-3 tbs. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 a shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
- 1-3/4 cup beef stock 
- Worcestershire sauce, a few splashes

Mashed Potato Topping:
- 1 lb red potatoes
- 4 tbs. softened butter
-  2-3 ounces grated Parmesan
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tbs. Italian flat-leaf parsley

1. Peel and cut potatoes into equal sized pieces. Boil in salted water until tender.

2. Trim venison, removing all silver-skin. Dab with paper towel. Cut into small cubes. Note: I have small hands. 

3. Season venison cubes with sea salt and pepper to taste.

 4. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a deep 10-12 in. pan, preferably a dutch. Cook the shallots just until they're about to turn color. Add the venison and brown.

5. Add onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until veggies soften, stirring frequently. You can add peas if you want. But don't add it now. We should've waited. See step 11.

 6. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and rosemary. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
 7. Pour in red wine and let it boil until nearly completely reduced.

8. Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. This cooks out the flour taste. Then, slowly pour in beef stock while stirring and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the venison is tender and sauce thickened.

9. Meanwhile, drain potatoes well and return to hot pan. Mash in butter, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.

10. Beat in egg yolks. It's important to do this last, to let the potatoes cool a little. You don't want scrambled eggs in your mashed potatoes.Stir in parsley. Set aside. 
11. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. 60 seconds before the venison mixture reaches the right thickness, stir in the peas. Don't worry if you're using frozen peas. It will get plenty of heat in the oven. Spoon mixture into a baking dish. 

12. Spread mashed potatoes over the venison mixture, starting from outside to middle. With a fork, fluff peaks into potato. Sprinkle with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. 

13. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbling and top turns golden brown.

14. Enjoy with ice cold beer. :-)

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Venison Steaks with Balsamic-Boysenberry Sauce

This is a quick and easy recipe that will impress and satisfy anyone. (Even those who say they don't like venison.) It's inspired by Hunt Fish Cook Chef Scott Leysath. We changed things a little bit and broke it down for you here. It's so easy that we even made it over a Coleman stove while out camping. It doesn't get any better than that. 

Servings: 2
- 1 lb venison tenderloin, cut against the grain into 1-1/4 inch pieces
- Garlic pepper seasoning
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs. boysenberry preserve
- 1-1/2 tbs. butter or margarine (salted)
- Crumbled blue cheese

TIP: Make sure that the venison reaches room temperature before you start cooking it. This goes for any kind of meat that is going to be pan seared. Over cooking or burning a steak because it’s still cold inside is a no-no. Trust me. I have done it plenty. 

 1. Remove as much silver skin as you can from the venison. The most complaints I hear from people is that  venison tastes "too gamey" and "too tough." Silver skin is what gives the meat that nasty taste. On top of that, if not removed, the skin will tighten up while cooking and make the meat curl.
 2. Cut up the venison against the grain into 1-1/4 inch thick pieces. Then pat dry with a paper towel. Wet meat will not sear, so you won't get that nice caramel color.
 3. Rub the steaks LIBERALLY (Rick hates that word. Hah!) with garlic pepper seasoning. If your seasoning doesn't have salt in it already, then sprinkle salt over the venison as well. I like to taste the seasoning before I use it, just to get a good idea of its intensity.

4. In a 10-in pan, or so, heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat. If it's non stick, you don't need that much. Just enough to brown the meat on both sides.

5. Make sure the pan is super hot before putting on the meat. (TIP: You can check by sprinkling a couple drops of water into the pan. If it sizzles and disappears immediately, the pan's ready.) 

6. Brown both sides of the venison, 30 sec - 1 min on each side. DO NOT COOK THE VENISON ALL THE WAY THROUGH. I think venison is best eaten medium-rare. It's juicy, and you can really taste it's full flavor that way.  Just don't go beyond medium, which contributes to the "too tough"comments. Venison cannot be cooked like beef.

7. Reduce heat to low. Quickly pour in balsamic vinegar, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan (about 1/4 cup), and then add the boysenberry preserve, 2 good spoonfuls. Balsamic vinegar is one of those things that's difficult to buy, since there are so many kinds. I really like the brand Delallo. You don't have to spend too much money, but don't skimp out. It does make a difference.

 8. Remove the venison immediately and keep warm. I would even recommend taking the steaks out once they brown on both sides, before adding the balsamic vinegar and preserve. Remember, no eating shoe leather. The meat will continue to cook while it rests.

9. Let the balsamic vinegar and preserve mixture simmer and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn.  Always taste while you are cooking. You want a balance of sweetness from the preserve and acidity from the vinegar. Add more of either until you're satisfied. 

10. Once thickened, whisk in chilled butter or margarine. Cut the butter into smaller pieces so it will easily dissolve. I like using salted because it adds to the sauce. Taste.

11. Drizzle the sauce over the steaks. Crumble blue cheese on top. (TIP: Let cheese reach room temperature before serving. You'll get more flavor out of it .)

12. ENJOY! 
Wine suggestions:
- Merlot
- Cabernet

We served this dish with Sauteed Leeks and Easy Baked Garlic and Parsley Potatoes.


Just to prove we did make this while camping. It was freezing!

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