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

How to Make Corned Venison Move Over Corned Beef

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Every Year when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around everyone thinks of corned beef, but here on the homestead we do it a little different.  We make corned venison and it has now become sort of a tradition, which we love.  We have no illusion that this is some sort of  long lost traditional Irish meal. Much like Rome was not built in a day, neither is corned venison.  Planning for this dish starts when we are butchering the deer in the fall.  We always set aside the roast that looks most like brisket for our corned beef and be sure to label it as such.  About a week before we defrost the roast, and then the magic happens.

Corned Venison 

1 venison brisket, about 3-4 lbs (feel free to substitute beef, also delicious!)

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

The Brine

1 quart of water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

In a sauce pot, combine all the brine ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once dissolved, set aside to cool. I am kind of impatient, so I use a little trick I learned from my grandma, pour the hot brine into a heat proof glass measuring cup, then put the measuring cup in a metal bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally and your mix will be cool in no time.

 

 

 

Place your brisket and garlic in a large gallon size freezer bag and pour the brine over it. Seal the bag, place the bag in a baking dish and refrigerate for 6-7 days, turning once each day.

 

 

 

After those very long days, remove your brisket (don’t be alarmed by its color, the “cooking” process has already started from the vinegar and salt) and thoroughly wash off the brine under cold water.

 

 

 

Place the brisket in a large pot, add one beer and enough cold water to fully immerse the brisket and cover. Bring the liquid/brisket to a boil, turn down to a simmer and allow to cook, covered for about 2 hours, or until the brisket is cooked through. In the last 20 minutes or so, add cut up potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

 

 

 

Just for comparison, the sliced meat on the top of the plate (darker in color) on the left is the corned venison, the other is a flat cut store-bought corned beef. The venison is much leaner and you won’t believe how great it tastes, you may never go back to that store bought one!   Whenever we treat venison like other meats we are pleasantly surprised with the results.  Having so many delicious recipes for venison allows us to make full use of our yearly harvests, and having another versatile source of protein makes us more self sufficient, even on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

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

These Are Not Your Mama’s Venison Meatballs

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There are a many ways to prepare ground venison.  Ground venison is very flexible and by adding a few spices you can really change its flavor profile.  One of our favorite ground venison dishes is venison meatballs.  Over the years, this recipe has evolved.  In the beginning, we treated the meat as if it were beef, but it still tasted a bit too gamey.  So over the years we added ingredients until we came up with these amazing gourmet venison meatballs. A tradition Italian meatball is made with veal, pork and beef.  With that thought in mind, we combined venison with beef and pork to make a spectacular meatball.

Venison Meatballs

1 lb each of ground beef, pork and venison

1/2 cup of plain bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp dried parsley

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried basil

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

olive oil

Marinara Sauce, waiting patiently on your stove

In a large bowl, combine the 3 ground meats. Add the bread crumbs, parmesan, egg and seasonings. With clean hands (or I sometimes use gloves) mix all of the ingredients together until well combined.

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with olive oil (I personally hate to scrub dishes, so I also line the baking sheet with aluminum foil). Shape into meatballs that are about 2″ in diameter. Don’t mind those few sausages that joined the meatball party, they were just waiting to be used in the freezer!

 

Place on baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, turning once during the baking time. After 30 minutes, remove the meatballs from the pan and place directly into the sauce. Simmer in the sauce for another 30 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly cooked through and absorbed some of the sauce.

 

Serve over your favorite pasta, or if you want to take it to the next level, put the meatballs and a little sauce in a 13 x 9 baking pan, cover with mozzarella, and pop under your broiler for a few minutes. After the cheese is melted and lightly browned, you will have made an amazing meatball parmigiana!

 

 

When we make a dish for the first time, we always spend time talking about what changes need to be made.  We can spend an hour after a meal thinking of the right changes to make.  We enjoy the conversation and usually the wine as much as the food.  A great meal is always more than a sum of its parts.  It is the hard work that went into the harvest,  The time spent cooking, and the great company that we enjoy.

cooking, fishing, homemade, homesteading

How to make fishcakes and memories

If you have read our blog before, you know that we love to start new traditions.  Several years ago my sons and I started one of my favorite traditions.  Every year during the ice fishing season we try to catch enough fish to feed us through all of the Fridays during Lent.  We don’t eat meat on Fridays during lent, which I suppose is another tradition.  It brings a little extra meaning to our fishing trips.

 

As we haul fish through the holes in the ice, we are thankful for our future Lenten meals.  We never let any of the fish go to waste,  we even use the scraps from filleting for trapping bait, or we mix them into our compost.  We catch a variety of pan fish including crappie, perch and blue gill. And if we are lucky, we may even get a walleye.

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Over the years one of our favorite dishes to have during lent is homemade fish cakes and marinara sauce.  The sound of them frying in the pan always makes us hungry, and there are never any leftovers.

Fish Cakes

2 lbs fish, we use a variety of crappie, perch, blue gill and walleye (feel free to substitute whatever you like or what is in your freezer!), season with a pinch of salt and pepper

1 jalapeno finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed if you don’t want it too spicy

1 small onion chopped

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp mayo

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1 cup plus 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

vegetable oil for frying

Marinara Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place fish in 13×9 baking dish and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Remove from baking dish with a slotted spoon (as there may be some liquid in the dish) to a large bowl, allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a fork, or the best utensils, your clean hands, break the fish apart into small pieces.

 

After 10 minutes, add onion, jalapeno, mustard, corn, egg, lemon, the 1/3 cup of panko, and seasonings. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

After 20 minutes, put the 1 cup of panko on a plate and scoop about 1/2 cup of the mixture into your hands and form a “cake”. Coat with the panko and set aside. After all the cakes are formed, refrigerate the cakes for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Heat about 1/2 inch or so of vegetable oil in a shallow cast iron pan until the oil starts to “ripple”. After the cakes have set in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, slowly  add them to the hot oil in small batches. I usually do 4-5 per batch. Once you see brown edges about 1/2 way up the side, turn the cakes to brown the other side. once beautifully browned on both sides, remove to a paper towel lined plate and lightly sprinkle with salt. Serve with home made marinara, yum!

 

When we sit around the table and enjoy these fish cakes we are reminded of our fun times on the ice.  Inevitably the boys and I tell fishing stories, and argue over who caught the most fish.  When you harvest or raise your own food there is always a story behind it.  When you buy food from the store there is no story and there is no connection.  Many of the traditions that we start only last a year or two, but I believe this one has hung around for a long time because of that connection.  To us they are not just fish cakes they are hard work, fun times, and  memories with my sons I will never forget.

cooking, homemade, homesteading, Jambalaya, recipes

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.