cooking, cooking venison, cooking wild game, homemade, homesteading, recipes

Venison Chili The First Kiss of Wild Game

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The most popular dish at any hunting camp is always Venison Chili.  In fact, I would bet that this is the way most people have tried venison for the first time.  I suppose venison chili is like the ultimate first impression, get it right and you have a venison lover, get it wrong and a half bowl of chili goes to waste.  I guess this is what has caused us to refine our recipe over the years.  A great venison chili starts when you are butchering the deer.  We have learned the more deer fat in our ground venison, the more gamey it would be.  We make sure not to put any of the silver skin in our ground venison either, and we vacuum seal  it to keep it nice and fresh.  We also use fresh, frozen, dried, or canned  vegetables from our garden.  The result is a homestead meal that anyone would be proud to serve for dinner or at camp.

Venison Chili

2 Lbs. Ground Venison

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Small Onion (chopped)

1 Large Bell Pepper (chopped)

1 Qt. Canned Crushed Tomatoes, drained of any liquid

1 cup dry back beans, soaked overnight in 3 cups cold water

1 cup of frozen corn (optional, but very yummy!)

1 Tsp. Paprika

1/2 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste)

1/2 Tsp. Cumin

1/2 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper (more or less to taste)

1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Salt

2 Cloves of Crushed Garlic

In a large pot or cast iron dutch oven (our preference), heat olive oil on med/high heat and add garlic and saute until softened and lightly browned. Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Add venison, stirring frequently  to brown, and cook all the way through.

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Unlike beef, venison is so lean,  so no need to drain as there will be very little fat, if any.

Add green pepper, tomatoes, seasonings and beans. Stir to thoroughly combine. Bring the chili to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally for 30-45 minutes or until beans are tender and cooked through.

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Finally, add the corn and stir. Enjoy with a hearty corn bread and top with whatever you like, although we find that we like to eat ours as is!

A big cast iron pot of fresh chili looks almost as good as it tastes.  There is nothing better to bring ice fishing and share with your friends, and every time we do it is gone quickly.  The next time you make venison chili, don’t forget It may be someones first taste of venison, so make it your best.

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cooking, homemade, homesteading, Jambalaya, recipes, Uncategorized

How To Make Jambalaya in Celebration of Mardi Gras (or any other night of the week )

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We love to create traditions on the homestead.  Some of our traditions come from our families, but we really enjoy starting new ones,  especially when they involve food or drink.  We have tried mint juleps for the Kentucky derby and the seven fishes for Christmas Eve, we even made a trout out of lights and drop it from a pole every New Years Eve.  One of our favorite traditions is celebrating fat Tuesday (AKA: Mardi Gras) , by making jambalaya.  We may or may not celebrate other Mardi Gras traditions, use your imagination!  Like so many other dishes, jambalaya recipes vary greatly, but we have come up with one the whole family enjoys.  We always use our cast iron pot, which has never produced a bad meal.  Jambalaya is one of those dishes that when being cooked fills the whole house with a mouth-watering aroma.  Our jambalaya is kicked up a notch by our own homemade hot Italian sausage.  Traditional recipes use andouille  but this is the homestead version that uses ingredients we have in the pantry and freezer.  We also use green pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper, and canned tomatoes from last years garden.

Jambalaya

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 lb sausage links, we use hot Italian, but can substitute andouille, cut into 3 pieces each

1/2 lb raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tbsp olive oil

salt

pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp oregano

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 small onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, finely minced or crushed

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a cast iron dutch oven on med/high heat,         heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Brown the chicken in 2 batches. No need to cook through, just browning at this time. Remove each batch to a plate and set aside. In the same pot, brown the sausage pieces (if using andouille, skip this browning step) and set aside with the chicken.

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. On med/high heat, saute the pepper, onion and garlic until slightly softened. Add the cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika and oregano to the pot with the vegetables. Stir to combine and warm seasonings. (I find that doing this is a trick to “wake up” dried spices)

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and rice. Stir to combine. Add the chicken and sausage back to the pot, and don’t forget to include all those yummy juices that have accumulated on the plate. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer and set a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn off heat, uncover, add shrimp and stir to combine. Re-cover and leave covered for 5 minutes with the heat off. (trust me, your shrimp will cook!) After those 5 long minutes have passed, give the jambalaya one more stir and serve!

There are so many wonderful traditions out there, and not all of them require beads.  It is always exciting to try something new, so why not start a new tradition, we are always glad we did.

 

 

cooking, gardening, homesteading

Making Crushed Red Pepper, just like when life gives you lemons…

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We have all heard the saying ” when life gives you lemons make lemonade “.  Well Last growing season life gave us peppers, lots of them.  We had so many peppers in fact that we couldn’t really keep up.  Every night we were cutting up bell and jalapeno peppers and freezing them.  We were also canning tomatoes.  Harvest time is always busy and inevitably we miss a few things.  This year we missed the Anaheim chili peppers we had planted in pots by the pool.  By the time we got to them, they were past their prime.  Life had given us wrinkly rubbery peppers, now we just needed to find a way to make them into “lemonade”.  Our first thought was to freeze them and put them into dishes where they would be cooked down.  Then our “lemonade” moment came, we could dry them just like you see in all of those pictures of the old country.  So we found a spot, used a needle and thread, and hung them to dry.  They became a beautiful piece of art hanging in our kitchen.

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They looked so much like decoration that people would ask if they were fake.  After about 4 months, we felt they were dry enough for the next step.  We were going to make them into our own crushed red pepper.  We started by crushing them by hand, wearing gloves of course.  We had made the mistake of bare handed pepper handling in the past,  and let’s just say it didn’t just burn our hands.

Once the peppers were crushed, we decided that a quick run through the spice grinder was in order.  We wanted it to look like the real thing.

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   We finished it off by putting the finished product in a small mason jar.

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You can even see the flakes in our delicious soup .

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We had made “lemonade”, and now we had a delicious new home grown and chemical free spice to use in our food.  So often we are discouraged in life,  it would have been easy to throw these peppers away.  Instead we took a chance on a them and developed a new skill.  When we ordered our seeds this year, we ordered peppers specifically to dry and crush.  We will be making this batch of “lemonade” for years to come.

cooking, cooking venison, cooking wild game, homemade, homesteading, venison

Sausage and Kale Stuffed Venison

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At any given time, if you ask us what is in our freezer right now, we can give you a pretty accurate inventory. For those of you who live a similar lifestyle to us, you understand that it is essential to know what you have, what you are running out of, what needs to be used ASAP, and what you might need.

That being said, we have to figure out daily, the answer to “what’s for dinner?”, in a different way. Today while thinking of what was in the freezer, we decided it would be a venison night (we eat venison at least once a week, if not more). Then comes the inventory….what else do we have to make a simple venison roast spectacular and how are we going to prepare it?

The answer came in the form of a Sausage and Kale Stuffed Venison with an Onion Dijon Mustard Sauce. Who ever said homestead eating was boring???

The Recipe

Venison Roast (2-3 lb.)

1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage, sweet or hot

1/4 cup frozen cooked kale

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/3 cup Vermouth or white wine for de-glazing pan

1 cup chicken stock

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Butcher’s twine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a cast iron pan lightly coated in olive oil, over med/high heat, brown the sausage. Once browned, toss in the kale and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, butterfly the roast. Slice the roast in half as if you were going to filet it, but do not go all the way through. Open the roast like a book. Then on the left side, working from the middle crease, filet the roast again, also not going all the way through, open the flap you just created, then repeat on the right side. (I will confess here, I learned this technique years ago from a youtube video, so feel free to look that up) You will end up with a relatively flat quadruple sized roast. Lay a gallon sized freezer bag over the meat and pound out to about 1/2 inch uniform thickness.

Using about an 18″ piece of butchers twine, make a loop in one end and slide under the roast as shown. Spoon the sausage/kale mixture over the meat and spread out leaving about 1/2 around the edge. Set your cast iron pan aside as you will use it for the sauce.

Now the fun part. Start to roll up the roast as tight as you can, rolling away from you and keeping the twine underneath. Once rolled, place the seam side down. Grab the loose end of the twine and feed it through the loop. Wrap the twine around the roast and when you come back around, feed your loose end under the twine and repeat until you get to the end of the roast. Tie off in a knot and cut off any excess.

Season the outside with salt and pepper and roast on an olive oil coated rack on a baking sheet. 60 minutes for med rare, adding additional time for more well done meat.

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While the venison is roasting, add a drizzle of olive oil to the cast iron pan you cooked the sausage in, and heat to medium. Once heated, add the onion and cook until the onion is caramelized and yummy. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vermouth or wine. Return the pan to the heat and stir with a whisk, picking up all of the leftover sausage bits. Once all of the bits are off the pan and combined, and the vermouth is reduced by about 1/2, add the mustard and chicken stock. Stir to combine and heat through. Turn the heat off.

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After the roast is cooked to your liking, remove it to a cutting board. Let the roast rest for 10 minutes. Carefully cut and remove the twine and slice your stuffed roast. I like to cut it on a bit of an angle, it just looks so pretty! Arrange the slices on a plate, quickly heat the sauce and pour over the sliced roast. Enjoy!!!

NOTE: This recipe also works great for pork loin, or beef roast. Feel free to substitute spinach for the kale. Also, if you are not a fan of cooking with alcohol, simply go straight to the chicken stock. Which, by the way is  another item always in the freezer since all of our roast chicken (homestead raised, of course!) meals end in a beautiful stock for future for soups, sauces and gravy.

 

 

 

 

cooking, gardening, growing corn, tortillas

Homemade Blue Corn Tortillas

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An important part of homesteading for us is enjoying what we do.  Sometimes homesteading can seem like all work and no play.  Often we only grow things we know we can put up for the winter, or enjoy fresh.  A great way to make the homestead more enjoyable is to try growing something new and make use of it.  It doesn’t even have to be in your future homestead plans, it is just for fun.  A great time to make these decisions is when you are looking at your seed catalogs in January or February.  One of the fun crops we chose this past year was blue corn from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.  We wanted to make our own blue corn tortillas.  We grow several types of corn already, and they need to be separated to prevent cross pollination.   We had no room in our usual gardens,  so after a bit of argument, we planted the blue corn in the front yard.  It was just a little 8×8 patch and didn’t take up too much space.  It was sort of fun to watch the corns progress whenever we left the driveway.

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Soon it was time to harvest.  We had done some research (the fun part ) and found out that we needed it to dry if we wanted  to make flour.  So we found a nice dry place in the garage and hung it to dry.

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After a few months, and after all of the harvesting on the homestead was over, we ground the corn into flour.  We didn’t have a flour mill so we just used a spice grinder.  It was a slow process but in the end we had our own blue corn flour and corn meal.

 

Now it was time for the fun.  We tried a few different recipes and finally found one that worked.

Blue corn tortillas

1/2 cup of blue corn flour

1/2 cup blue corn meal

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1/3 cup of warm water (110 degrees)

Mix all dry ingredients then add oil.  Slowly add water until mix comes together. Knead dough for 5 to ten minutes then roll into a log and cut into equal pieces. Put in covered bowl and let rest for 15 min.  Then put in tortilla press or roll into circles then cook on hot griddle until brown.

 

We had made our blue corn tortillas.  We found that even after pressing twice they still needed to be rolled thinner.  The wax paper helped us keep them from tearing and sticking.  In fact we could have even made them thinner and we will next time.  We decided to fry some of them in oil to make blue corn chips, again they should have been a bit thinner.

 

The chips were a bit thick but went excellent with some salsa.  We had accomplished our goal and had a wonderful time doing it.  And watching the big game eating your own chips is kind of cool, right?  So this year when you start making homestead plans be sure you don’t forget the fun.