Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

“I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night.” ~ Lady Gaga

I am not always the best pre-planner. If I am headed on vacation, I am the one packing my bags thirty minutes before we are scheduled to leave.  I tend to forget essentials, you know, like my tooth brush.  I do not know why I have to wait until thirty minutes before our scheduled departure to start preparing for my trip, but I do it every time.  And every time, as I am realizing I don’t have any clean socks to pack, because that would require a pre-check of my dresser drawers to ensure there are socks available for my trip, I curse myself for procrastinating.  You would think I would learn my lesson.  Arriving at your destination without pants to wear can be quite unfortunate.  But every vacation, no matter what, I still find myself packing that bag thirty minutes before jumping in the car and hastily roaring away, most likely with a pair of dirty socks, no toothbrush, and pant-less.

This incredible skill of procrastination is also useful in other situations.  This past New Year’s Eve, I was invited to a late night celebration.  I was invited well over a week in advance, and was told to bring three simple things: myself, a drink to share, and an appetizer dish to share.  Guess what was ready with an hour before party time?  Nothing. Not my drink to share, not my appetizer dish, and certainly not myself.

Realizing people would probably not care if I stopped at the store and grabbed a bottle of some drink to share and that I was dressed like a slob (with dirty socks of course), I did think people would notice if I arrived with no appetizer in hand.  I contemplated buying one of those pre-made vegetable or meat and cheese trays, but I figured my fellow procrastinators would also devise this plan and arrive with the same appetizer.

I opened my refrigerator in search of something to throw together, and luck would have it, there was a pack of elk chunk waiting to become my quick, throw together New Year’s Eve appetizer.  I quickly ran the chunk through my meat grinder.  It resulted in about a pound of ground elk.  To the ground elk, I added a cup of panko bread crumbs, some fresh chopped parsley, and a little nutmeg.  I also seasoned generously with salt and pepper.  I also added in one beaten egg and two tablespoons of milk.

I find the best tactic for mixing meatballs is to just dig right in with your hands.  This gets everything incorporated really thoroughly.  Also, it allows you to test the consistency of the meatballs.  If the meatballs feel too wet and things aren’t really sticking together, add more panko bread crumbs.  If things feel to dry, add in more milk.

Since this was a quick throw together appetizer, I used what was available in my pantry to make my meatballs.  If you don’t have, or maybe you don’t like, panko bread crumbs, traditional bread crumbs will also work.  Also, I don’t always have fresh parsley on hand.  I actually never have it on hand, but for some reason on this particular evening I did.  If you don’t have fresh parsley, dried would also work.  You would only need a tablespoon of dried parsley instead of a quarter cup like with the fresh.

Roll the meatballs into balls using about a tablespoon of the meat mixture.  Place them on an ungreased baking sheet.  For easier clean-up, line the sheet with aluminum foil.  Bake the meatballs in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.  The meatballs should be slightly browned and your kitchen should smell delicious!

While the meatballs are roasting away, pull out a crockpot.  Set the crockpot on low heat.

To the pot, add 3/4 to 1 cup of hoisin sauce.  I started with 3/4 of a cup and then added more at the end of I wanted more of the hoisin flavor to stand out.  A beautiful dark amber color, hoisin is a sweet and salty sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine.  It is a pungent sauce packed with a ton of flavor, so start with less and you can always add more.

To the hoisin, add one tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame seed oil, two cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of ground ginger. To help liven up the flavor of the spices in the hoisin sauce, add a tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar.  Give everything a stir and a quick taste.  The sauce should taste salty and a bit spicy.  Now it is time develop the sweetness of this sauce.  I always taste things before I start adding my sweetener to see where things are at.  This is important with the hoisin because it also adds sweetness to the dish, and you don’t want the meatballs tasting like lollipops!  Anyway, slowly add the honey in a drizzle at a time, tasting as you go, until the sauce is where you want it.  If you desire a bit more salt, add a little more soy sauce.  If you want more hoisin flavor, drizzle some more of that in.  I ended up with about a tablespoon of honey at the end.

After the meatballs are done cooking, add them to the hoisin sauce, making sure to coat all the meatballs with the sauce, and you are ready to party!  I took the entire crockpot to the gathering with me, this way everything stayed nice and warm.  To serve the meatballs, sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top.

Meatballs are a great party appetizer.  A pound of meat and a few simple ingredients make a deliciously quick treat.  They can be served using only toothpicks, so there is no need for utensils or plates.  They can also be made in advance and then just added to the crock-pot to heat back up.

These salty and sweet Asian-style meatballs received lots of praise at the party, and no one suspected they were a product of procrastination.

 

Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

20-25 meatballs

Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

Ingredients

    For the Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (more as needed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For Hoisin Sauce
  • 3/4 to 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

    For Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. For easier clean up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground elk, panko bread crumbs, parsley, nutmeg, milk, beaten egg, and salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients. If meatballs seem to wet, add more panko. If meatballs feel to dry, add more milk.
  3. With around a tablespoon size scoop of meat, rolls the meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake in oven for 12 minutes, until meatballs are browned.
    For Hoisin Sauce
  1. Turn the slow cooker on low.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hoisin, rice vinegar, soy sauce , sesame seed oil, garlic, ginger, and honey. Taste to see if it is as sweet or salty as you desire. If you want it a bit sweeter, add a little more hoisin or honey. If you want things a bit saltier add a little more soy sauce. If you want more acid, add a little more vinegar.
  3. Once things taste how you want it, pour the bowl into the crock pot. Add the meatballs.
  4. Allow meatballs to cook in crock pot for ten minutes before serving so everything is evenly warm. Garnish meatballs with sesame seeds and serve using toothpicks!
  5. Enjoy!
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Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

“Sometimes hunting isn’t about hunting at all.” ~ Anonymous

Hey all! I have the pleasure of sharing a deer recipe from a guest blogger this week.  Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwiches is a recipe created by Amanda from the website Deer Recipes: Keeping it Simple.

Amanda is a “deer meat-acholic” and she created her blog with the goal of showing family, friends, and the rest of the world “deer meat is delicious.”  Amanda does all her own game processing and also creates her own recipes.

You can see more of Amanda’s recipes her website: deerrecipes.online or also through her Twitter account or Yummly site.

The Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich is my favorite creation. It’s so full of flavor your mouth won’t know what hit it! The pepper jack cheese gives it a spicy hot kick. Add spicy venison backstrap and fried onions and you have perfection.

This is one sandwich that you’ll make time and time again and the whole family will love it! This is a “whenever” sandwich–it’s great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or whenever and it’s good as leftovers, too. You can make them the night before and have a nice lunch the next day.

Just let it completely cool and wrap it well in a paper towel and then put it in a lunch bag. Then unwrap and heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds, turn it over and heat another 20 seconds. Then watch out because the smell will attract your co-workers!

Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Total Time: 14 minutes

4 Sandwiches

Serving Size: 1 Sandwich

624

30.5g

Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 lb venison backstrap or tenderloin, cut into small thin slices
  • 1 12 oz bottle of Stubb's Chicken Marinade, Citrus & Onion
  • 8 slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 8 slices of Flowers or Sunbeam white Texas Toast
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Instructions

  1. First, fix the small thin slices of venison backstrap or tenderloin. Place them in a bowl and add Stubb's Chicken Marinade, Citrus & Onion and mix it well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Then drain the liquid from the tenderloin slices.
  3. Preheat a large electric skillet to 350 F and add 1 tsp. of olive oil.
  4. Fry the deer slices for no longer than a minute per side--just long enough to be done.
  5. When done, remove them from the heat and place them on a paper towel lined plate for later.
  6. Take a few paper towels and clean the pan using your spatula.
  7. Heat the pan to 250 F and slice the onion and add 1 tsp. of olive oil to the pan.
  8. Lightly fry the onions, which should only take a few minutes.
  9. Set the onions aside for later.
  10. Again, wipe the pan with paper towels and then preheat it to 300 F.
  11. Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and once it's melted, lay two pieces of Texas Toast in the pan, making sure each piece is in butter.
  12. Next, layer the ingredients on one piece of the toast as follows: 1 full slice of pepper jack cheese, tenderloin, onions, 1/2 slice of pepper jack cheese, tenderloin, onions, and then the other 1/2 slice of pepper jack cheese.
  13. Then place the other piece of Texas Toast on top with the buttered side out and put the lid on the skillet so the cheese will melt nicely.
  14. Leave it for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula and lift up the corner of the sandwich and look to see if it is nicely browned. If so, gently turn it over and brown the other side, which should take about two minutes as well.
  15. When done, place the sandwiches in a platter lined with paper towels. This will keep them from getting soggy and will remove any excess butter.
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The good, the bad and the delicious…

  • Grilled Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich is low in sugar.
  • It’s also high in saturated fat.

Please read below, after the nutrition facts, to learn how to make this recipe more diet-friendly.

Pepper Jack Venison Steak and Onion Sandwich

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Grade: D+

 Yields: 4 Sandwiches  Serving: 1 Sandwich
 Calories 624  Calories from fat 275
 % Daily Value*
 Total Fat 30.5g  47%
 Saturated Fat 16.6g  83%
 Trans Fat 0.0g
 Cholesterol 76mg  25%
 Sodium 758mg  32%
 Potassium 58mg  2%
 Total Carbohydrates 41.5g  14%
 Dietary Fiber 2.8g  11%
 Sugars 5.6g
 Protein 42.0g
 Vitamin A 16%
 Vitamin C 4%
 Calcium 35%
 Iron 12%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

To make this recipe more diet-friendly…

  • You could use less cheese. Instead of two pieces of cheese to each sandwich, use only one.
  • You could use a healthier, thinner bread, such as Sara Lee® Delightful™ Healthy Multi-Grain Bread, which only has 45 calories per slice.
  • You could use a butter substitute or completely omit the butter.
    • This would create a toasted sandwich.

All of the changes above would dramatically reduce the bad points about this sandwich and make it a diet-friendly sandwich. The calories drop to 248 instead of 624, calories from fat to 92 instead of 275, total fat to 10.2g, saturated fat to 4.8g, cholesterol to 23mg, sodium to 129mg, carbs to 3.5g and Sugars 1.6g. The nutrition grade would still be D+ but that’s because of the lack of essential vitamins.

This recipe can be viewed on Amanda’s own site at Deer Recipes: Keeping it Simple

 

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Whiskey Elk Backstrap Steaks

henrymountainswebsize“You know what my drink is? Jack Daniel’s. Yes, that is a wild man drink. That should come with bail money, you know what I’m saying? Because on Jack, you don’t know where you’re going to end up, but you know when you get there, you won’t be wearing any pants.” ~ Dave Attell

You know that wonderful feeling when you pull out a coat or pair of pants you have not worn in a really long time and find money stashed in the pocket? You can pull out a $20 and you are on top of the world, or even pull out a $1 and think, “It’s gonna be a good day!” I love that feeling. I can’t accurately put into words how excited I get finding money in long forgotten places.

I had that feeling last week.  But it wasn’t evoked by a crumpled old bill hiding in my pocket. It was from the freezer. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out something to make to eat. Sometimes that happens. I am in the mood for something different, but nothing quite seems right or everything sounds too hard to make. I usually end up getting flustered and in a frantic attempt to pull myself out of my indecisive state end up making grilled cheese. That didn’t happen this time. Instead, when I opened the freezer sitting on the top shell, somehow forgotten, was a pack of elk back strap. I could not believe it had been missed! I thought all that was left was roasts or large chunks suitable for sausage or stews.

It was exactly like finding that $20 bill in a pair of old jeans.

And instead of having a dinner of canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, I sat down to a fantastic, on-top-of-world feeling, perfectly marinated and cooked elk back strap steak dinner. It was a good day!

I was lucky to find my hidden elk back strap to use for this recipe, but deer or antelope would also work for this dish. Also, if you don’t have back strap on hand, probably because you are like me and ate it all immediately, other cuts that would work great for this recipe include: tenderloin (if you have that on hand, which I never do because it is always my first meal after my harvest and I always make a simple steak and eggs meal to share with everyone who helped me during the hunt), top sirloin (which is found in the hind quarter of the animal), and the flank steak (which is also called the infraspinatus muscle, and I think is greatly under-utilized).

While this is an easy meal to throw together, it does require a little bit of pre-planning in order to properly marinade the meat.  The meat needs at least four hours to sit in the marinade. To make this sweet and smoky whiskey flavored marinade, grab a medium-sized bowl and whisk together 1/2 cup of your favorite sipping whiskey, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a heaping tablespoon of Dijon style mustard (I always cheat and add a little more when I use Dijon mustard because I love that tangy flavor it adds), a quarter cup of honey, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and some fresh cracked black pepper.

whiskeysteakmarinade

Lay the steaks into a large shallow pan and pour in the marinade. Throw a little plastic wrap over the dish, and toss that baby in the fridge. After two hours, flip the steaks over so both sides can enjoy equal time bathing in that delicious marinade.

whiskeysteakmarinating

Once the steaks are done marinating, pull them out of their soaking bath and let them rest on a plate for ten or fifteen minutes. This creates a little more even cooking of the meat if the temperature of the steak is consistent throughout. Also, I like to let the marinade dry out a bit on the surface of the meat, as it creates a bit more of a sticky or somewhat crunchy texture to the outside of the steak.

Get the grilling pan nice and hot. You want the steak to make that beautiful sizzling sound when it hits the pan. You know that sound, that sharp crackling sound when the steak hits the pan and then steam immediately flows off the steak. (Love that moment!) I usually test if my pan is hot enough by sprinkling a little bit of water on the pan. If it starts to sizzle upon contact, I know the pan is hot enough.

whiskeysteakcooking

Drop the steak into the preheated pan and allow it to cook for six to eight minutes on the first side. Try not to move the steak immediately after it first touches the pan. In that first minute or two, the meat tends to grab onto the hot pan and will tear if you try and move it. Once the first side of cooked, flip the steak and cook the second side an additional six to eight minutes. This should result in a medium rare steak. If you are more of a medium to well-done steak person, add a few minutes to each side. If you are a fan of the rare steak, subtract a minute or two per side. Transfer the steak to a plate and allow it to rest before slicing for about five minutes. Allowing the meat to rest is important because it creates a juicier and tastier slice of meat. Also, when it is piping hot and you cut into the steak it really just tears the whole thing up and makes things look not so pretty.

whiskeysteakfinalplate

Well, that is it for this super amazing meal! I served my steak with a side of grilled asparagus. Other fantastic sides would include potatoes, green beans, corn, a simple salad, crusty bread, wild rice, or whatever else your imagination can come up with.

Happy Hunting!

Whiskey Elk Backstrap Steaks

Whiskey Elk Backstrap Steaks

Ingredients

  • 4 elk back strap steaks (about eight ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup favorite whiskey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In large, shallow dish lay out steaks.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together whiskey, soy sauce, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and pepper. Pour over steaks and cover with plastic wrap. Allow at least four hours in the refrigerator, flipping the steaks half way through.
  3. Remove steaks from marinade and allow to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes.
  4. Heat grilling pan over high heat.
  5. Add steaks to pan and cook 6 to 8 minutes per side.
  6. Let meat rest for five minutes before slicing.
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Elk Steak and Eggs: A Four Ingredient Breakfast!

ElkSteakandEggsIngredients“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
~ Julia Child

Family traditions come in many forms. Some traditions are large and noisy, like everyone in the family gathers at a certain aunt’s house every year for Thanksgiving. And the table is always filled with ten different varieties of pie, and everyone eats until they can’t breathe. And then uncle so-and-so turns on the football game, but no one watches it because they are too full to stay awake. So the entire family sleeps through Thanksgiving Day football while grandma washes the dishes in her very special, no one can help, way. And then everyone awakes from their post-turkey slumber to eat the rest of the ten pies.

Then there are the small, more simple family traditions. One of my family traditions was tenderloin steak and eggs the morning after a successful deer or elk hunt. My dad would remove the hide, quarter up his animal to hang, and then put the tenderloin and backstrap in the fridge. In the morning, he would fry thinly butterflied steaks of tenderloin with medium eggs. I always loved that tradition, and shared it with my extended family once I married.

Now, at our house, we keep around about ten bags of those thinly sliced butterflied tenderloin steaks for a quick Saturday morning breakfast, or a quick Monday night dinner. I always think of it as my go-to meal when I don’t feel like cooking, but every time I eat it I wonder why I would consider it a go-to when, even in its simplicity, it is one amazing meal.

There really isn’t much to say about this meal other than it is delicious, simple, and always a crowd pleaser. I often prepare deer or elk in a way that enhances the flavors of the meat, but while enhancing those same tactics can somewhat simultaneously camouflage the flavors of the meat. When I make meals covered in sauce or cheese or some other delicious topping or wrap bacon around the entire thing, I pick cuts of meat that sometimes can’t handle being served solo. They might be a little too tough and need some tenderizing or breaking down. They might really have that “gamey” flavor going on for one reason or another. But tenderloin is tender and exquisite enough to stand on its own, and I truly appreciate a beautifully cooked slice of elk or deer tenderloin. It is ripe with the natural juices of the meat, melt in your mouth tender, and very lean. It is a true treat, and one you should feel incredibly lucky if someone will share with you.

For this simple, four ingredient breakfast, you simply need a couple of thinly sliced, butterflied tenderloin steaks. I should add that backstrap is great this way too, so don’t go throwing that away! Anyway, you will also need a couple of eggs for frying up, some steak seasoning, I personally LOVE Montreal Steak Seasoning and put a dash of it on everything, and some butter.

ElkSteakandEggsMeatTo thinly butterfly the tenderloin, I use a very sharp filet knife and cut slices about a half to three quarter inches thick. I then butterfly those pieces, meaning I cut the thin slices in half almost all the way through. Leave a small section of the meat slice still attached and “butterfly” the steak open. I freeze three or four steaks in a vacuum sealed bag, which is a perfect meal size for two people. Having a couple of bags of the thin sliced steaks is great for several reasons, with two of them being they stack and store great in the freezer, and they also thaw extremely quick. You can pull a bag out and throw it under running water in the sink and have dinner meat ready to use in about five minutes.

Liberally season the tenderloin steaks. There is no need to add salt when using steak seasoning, because the seasoning is a blend of coarse salt, black and red pepper, garlic, coriander, and dill seeds. Preheat a non-stick pan to medium-high heat, and once the pan is hot, drop the steaks in. As with cooking most steaks, you should let the meat come to room temperature before starting, this will ensure even cooking of the steak, and also remember to not disturb the meat once you set it in the pan.

The steaks cook extremely quick! I am talking, like 45 second here if you like a medium-rare cooked steak. Many people say to not overcook your wild game steaks, and I am a big promoter of that as well. I remember ordering buffalo in a restaurant, and at that point in time I was definitely a beef girl and not super adventurous on the culinary front. The waiter suggested I order my meat medium rare, at the most! I was incredibly weirded out, and slightly uncomfortable. I always ordered my meat well-done. The waiter explained that with meats like buffalo, venison, or elk being so lean that they were especially dried out when cooked above medium-rare, and therefore lost most of their flavor and juiciness. I reluctantly followed his suggestion, and haven’t gone back since. So, my suggestion on this steak to you is a cooking time of 45 seconds per side.

ElkSteakandEggsCookingOnce the steaks are cooked, let them rest for a few minutes while the eggs fry. Drop a pat of butter in the pan, this will help keep the eggs from sticking, and drop the eggs in the pan. I use the same pan I cooked my steaks in for the eggs, because I like the flavor the steak juices add, but you can get a new clean pan too. Sprinkle a dash of the Montreal steak seasoning on the eggs (see, I told you I put it on everything!), and allow the eggs to cook. Everyone likes their eggs cooked differently, it is probably the number one question you get at a diner, “How would you like your eggs done?” So, for sunny-side up eggs, cook the egg for a minute, reduce the heat, then cover with a lid and cook an additional four minutes. The steam will finish the egg tops. Four minutes will result in a runny yolk, five minutes will give a medium finished yolk, and six minutes yields a hard yolk. For over easy eggs, start the same as the sunny side, but after the minute of cooking you flip the egg instead of covering with the lid. Cook for a minute more, resulting in a very runny yolk, and then, as before, the longer you cook the egg the more solid the yolk will become. I like a runny yolk for dipping steak slices in, but that is just how I “like my eggs done.”

And…well, that is it. Steak and eggs breakfast in just four ingredients. Enjoy

Happy Hunting!

ElkSteakandEggsFinalPlate

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Venison Bourguignon: A Twist on a Julia Child’s Original

VenisonBourguignon“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ~Julia Child

You know what Meryl Streep movie I love? Julie & Julia! You know the movie, right? Meryl Streep plates up an amazing performance as the queen of cooking, Julia Child. And Amy Adams is Julie Powell, a struggling New York writer who challenges herself to complete a 365-day cook-off covering every recipe in Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking? If you are a blogger, I am sure you know the movie because it centers around the idea of using blogging to create self-growth and potentially a little income. Right?

Anyway, who can forget the scene where Julie Powell cooks boeuf bourguignon. Editor Judith Jones, credited for greatly assisting in the publication of Julia Child’s cookbook, is scheduled to be Julie Powell’s guest for the evening. Powell decides she will cook the exact same dish Jones’ first cooked when she was testing out the cookbook, boeuf bourguignon. As Powell narrates the story of Jones and Child meeting, we watch her order beautiful beef cuts from her local butcher and lightly brown them in a silver pan. Powell fills a heavy ceramic dutch oven with brightly colored vegetables and pours a bottle of red wine over the meat and vegetables. The dutch oven sizzles and steams. Every time I watch that scene, I immediately want to make boeuf bourguignon. The colors and the sounds and textures just make me so hungry! I can’t be the first person who watched that movie and then tried making boeuf bourguignon. I know for a fact I am not, because my brother-in-law did just that.

Powell’s bourguignon actually ends in disaster. She falls asleep on the couch and misses her alarm. The dish is charred black and completely inedible. And to top everything off, Judith Jones cancels her meeting with Powell. It is a tragic end for Powell’s bourguignon. However, when I decided to make bourguignon I used venison, and the result was anything but tragic!

BourguignonBaseIf you want the most flavor possible from this dish, and trust me you do, the meat needs to marinade over night in a bath of vegetables and red wine. First, cut your venison into bite size chunks. Since the meat shrinks down a bit during the cooking process, I tend to make my bites oversized. Add your meat cuts to a large bowl with a large quartered onion, a few stalks of celery and carrots, chopped into fairly large pieces, whole cloves of garlic smashed, and a couple bay leaves. Pour in an entire bottle of red wine. You can use whatever type of red wine you would like, but I like the light-bodied somewhat fruity and floral pinot noir. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. When you are ready to start cooking, pull out your meat and strain the wine marinade through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid because you will add it back into the dish, and discard the vegetables.

DutchOvenBourguignonDust the meat with flour, just a light coating, and start heating a heavy bottomed ceramic dutch oven. You want the pot to be decent sized because this will be the only dish used for the entire meal. In the dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and start frying the meat. You might have to do a couple batches. You don’t want to overcrowd the pot. You want the meat to develop a nice light brown coating and if you do too many pieces of meat at one time the oil will drop in temperature. You will end up with steamed meat instead of browned. The meat only needs to cook for a few minutes per side.

VegetablesbourguignonNext, dice up a few slices of bacon and cook them in the dutch oven. There is no need to drain the drippings from browned meat. It only adds more flavor to the dish. Once the bacon is crispy, drop in carrots, celery, and pearl onions. Season with salt and pepper and allow the vegetables to soften for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add in some minced garlic and tomato paste. Cook for an additional two or three minutes.

Remember that wine marinade you reserved? It is time to add it back to the pot. Pour in about two cups of the reserved wine. Add in the browned venison and bring the pot to a very light boil, almost more of a simmer. Allow the liquid to reduce by half and then add in your beef stock, a few bay leaves, and some fresh thyme. Bring the pot back to a boil before you cover it and toss that baby in a 350 degree oven.

Set your timer for two hours, and try not to fall asleep like Julie Powell did. At the two hour mark, add in your diced potatoes and mushrooms. Cook for an additional thirty minutes.

The process is definitely a long one, but this meal is worth the wait and the effort. The flavors are very deep and rich, and even with all that depth of flavor the venison is still able to shine as the star of the show. Well, in the words of Julia Child: “Bon appetit!”

Venison Bourguignon: A Twist on a Julia Child’s Original

Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 14 hours, 30 minutes

Venison Bourguignon: A Twist on a Julia Child’s Original

Ingredients

    For Marinade
  • 4 pounds venison
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2-3 stalks celery, large chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, large chopped
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bottle red wine, I used pinot noir
    For Bourguignon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 to 10 slices bacon, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups pearl onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, minced
  • 1 pound fingerling or red potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups cremini or shitake mushrooms
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. The night before, in a large bowl add venison, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Pour in the entire bottle of wine. Cover and refrigerate over night.
  2. When ready to start cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Remove the venison from the marinade. Pat dry and dust with flour. With remaining marinade, pour through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve the wine liquid and discard the vegetables. You will need the wine to add back into the pot.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large ceramic dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the venison in small batches, being sure to not overcrowd the pan. Brown the meat on each side for two to three minutes. This could require four or five batches. Set the meat aside.
  5. Add the diced bacon to the pot and crisp. Once bacon is ready, drop in the carrots, celery, pearl onions. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the vegetables to soften for 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stir, and cook additional three minutes.
  7. Return the venison to the pot and pour in cups of the reserved wine marinade. Bring to a light boil and reduce the liquid by half.
  8. Once reduced, add the beef stock, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring the pot to a boil and place the lid. Pot the entire pot in the preheated oven for two hours. Check occasionally to ensure there is enough liquid in the pot.
  9. After two hours, add the potatoes and mushrooms. Allow to cook an additional 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and enjoy!
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Recipes: Deer Tenderloin Topped with Gorgonzola Cheese!

BrandonDeer“They run like deer, jump like deer, and think like deer.” -Charles Barkley

I would love more than anything to have a prologue to this blog post. The prologue would be this great adventure of how I went out and hiked several miles, bow slung over my back, and I crossed creeks and hid in brush. After a long, exhausting day I would fall asleep in my chair at the campfire and have to be nudged to go crawl in my sleeping bag so I would be ready at 5:00am to cross more creeks and hide in more brush. I would love to say how I did that for three days before tracking down my buck, and then explain all the anticipation and nerves and adrenaline rushing through my body as I got my first buck. I would love to tell that story before posting this recipe.

I would also like to have a blog post on how to clean and store all the meat from that big buck I got. But there are two problems. First, I did go out this past fall for my first mule deer season. I did cross creeks and hide in brush and fall asleep in my chair. But I didn’t see anything. The second problem is if I waited until deer season to post this blog I would be waiting a long nine months. And I wanted to eat this deer tenderloin now! This recipe is incredibly simple and soooo delicious!

So, before I get started on the food, I guess I will share the less exciting, for me anyway, story about my husband and his buck. My husband landed this desert mule deer along the banks of the Colorado River. In Utah, you can apply for a special license called the Dedicated Hunter. With the Dedicated Hunter program, you have to complete so many hours of community service and pay the license fee. In return, your license allows you to hunt for three years and harvest two mule deer bucks in that time frame. You also get to hunt all three general seasons: archery, muzzleloader, and rifle.

My husband struggled this season. Our very unsuccessful archery hunt, which was the season I had a tag for, was disappointing. It was a very quiet season. We didn’t see or hear anything. The muzzleloader season was also very similar for him: unsuccessful. This was the second year of his permit, and his first year had also ended with him not using his tag. He went out after work for the rifle season along the Colorado River and started following some tracks. The tracks entered a large bunch of tamarisk and Russian olive trees. This buck and another small male were lying down in the covering. He was very excited with this buck, which measured around 190. I will admit, I was very jealous. But I love deer meat and now I get to share this very wonderful recipe with you!

Steaks We cut our tenderloin into very thin, 1/2 inch butterflied filets. We do this for two reasons, you get to have a lot more tenderloin meals! And cooking up these little filets is super easy. I always let my steaks sit out on the counter for a bit before I start cooking. You want to take the chill off your meat. Letting them sit on the counter for 15 minutes or so will help them to cook quicker, more evenly, and they will take the seasonings better. I season my steaks up with just a little bit of salt and pepper.

Before you start cooking, you want to prepare your gorgonzola cheese topping. These steaks are going to cook up in mere minutes, and you want your cheese topping to be completely prepared so you can drop those big spoonfuls of cheese on at just the right time. To make the cheese topping, start with your crumbled gorgonzola cheese in a big bowl. You could also use blue cheese if you are not a huge fan of gorgonzola. CheeseToppingWith me, the stinkier the cheese the better. Mince your herbs and add them to your cheese bowl. I like to use sage, rosemary, and thyme. You could try adding other herbs if you like. I go with sage, rosemary, and thyme because I think they have real earthy flavors and that pairs well with the flavor of deer.

Alright, we are on to frying those bad boys up! To start, heat your pan over medium high. You can add a tablespoon of oil to fry your steak in, if you want. I prefer to not do that with deer tenderloin because I don’t want the meat to absorb any of the oil flavor. Like I said before, I just season them up with a bit of salt and pepper and enjoy the taste of the meat.

SteaksinPanOnce the pan is heated up, drop the filets in. There are two very important steps you are going to perform here. First, lay that meat down and then DON’T touch it! If you try and move the meat once it has touched the hot pan you will rip your steak. You want to let the meat fry up and get that beautiful, slightly brown color. Second, DON’T walk away! These filets are thin, and they will over cook faster than you are prepared for. Don’t leave this meat unattended. It will overcook and you will be sad. I let mine go for about a minute, sometimes a minute and a half on the first side and then flip it. It should release easily. If the meat won’t let go of the pan, don’t force it. Give the meat a few more seconds until it is ready.

Once you flip your meat, let it cook for about thirty seconds and then start piling on your cheese mixture. I am greedy with the cheese mixture. I usually put a GIANT heaping spoonful on mine. I drop a regular spoonful on the other steaks. After you have covered each of the steaks with the cheese mixture, and added the leftovers to your steak because, like I said, I am greedy with the cheese and I get the most in this case, you want to cover the pan with a lid. It doesn’t even have to be the lid for this pan. You just want something to hold the steam in for a bit while your cheese melts. I usually let my cheese melt for another minute. You have to watch this closely though, you don’t want to over cook your steaks.SteakswithCheese

After the cheese is melted, pull your steaks from the heat and let them rest for just a minute. They don’t need to rest like a thicker steak because you don’t want them to over cook. Just a minute will let them get right to where they need to be. So delicious!

brusselFor the side on this meal, I made brussels sprouts. As a side note, until this exact moment in time, the moment where I typed the word “brussels” into the computer, I always thought they were brussel (singular) sprouts. I stand corrected. They are brussels sprout. Huh, you learn something new everyday I guess.

Anyway, I would start this side before I actually cooked my steaks. The steaks cook so quickly and are best eaten warm that you would want to prepare your side before cooking your steak. I made a very simple brussels sprout side. I think with this meal, any green side would be fantastic. I would definitely recommend asparagus, kale, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, carrots, corn, or anything else your heart desires. I even have a small confession to make here. I thought I would love brussels sprouts with this meal. I actually found it to be a less than satisfactory side. Brussels sprouts have a very buttery flavor. They just did not pair as well with the deer as I feel asparagus would. Lesson learned.

FinishedProductSteak

For these brussels sprouts, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and then covered the sprouts in olive oil. I sprinkled in some salt and pepper, gave everything a good stir with hands to ensure proper coating, and tossed everyone in the oven. I let them go about 20 minutes. I like my brussels sprouts to be very dark on the outside leaves. I like how crunchy they get. You might want to let your sprouts only go for 15 minutes if you don’t like them quite as dark as I do.

Beverage Pairing

I knew what wine I wanted to pair with this meal the moment I started planning it. I knew I wanted the oaky, earthy flavor of Cline red zinfandel. Cline has a very strong flavor, and I can always taste the black cherry and strawberries. ClineIt is a very bold wine, especially for a zinfandel. I knew this would taste so great paired with the deer meat and strong taste of gorgonzola cheese. This is a bold meal and it needs a bold drink. That being said, the Cline was AWFUL with the brussels sprouts. AWFUL! They paired together so horribly that it almost ruined my meal. Brussels sprouts are definitely a white wine vegetable. The deer and gorgonzola were EXCELLENT with the wine though! So, my recommendation for the day is this: don’t make brussels sprouts like I did!

Cheers and I hope you enjoy!

Recipe

* five to six 1/2 inch butterflied deer steaks
* four ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese (you can only use half the container if you don’t like HUGE amounts of cheese, like me)
* 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
* 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
* 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

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