Weekend Cooler Challenge Recipe: Venison

I’m a big fan of healthy food you can take on the go, especially since Thadd and I are pretty active. And, he needs hand-held foods for lunches because he’s often eating it while running between classes.  Empañadas are perfect, and this recipe is one I plan to try out as soon as my nephews get me some more venison (hey, guys, if either of you two are reading, this is a hint!). Take it away, Gaylin!
Venison, Wild Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onion Empañadas
My husband’s family is big on hunting for several reasons. Foremost among them, however, is our ability to control our source of meat and how it’s processed. Almost all the red meat in our house comes from deer we’ve taken off his family’s ancestral farm. Last year’s harvest included two good-sized bucks and we still had some of the ground bits left (the tenderloins were the first eaten, of course). I caramelized a white onion that I’d diced up, though that onion had seen better days and really needed to be used. To this, I added several cloves of mince garlic and the venison for a quick fry. The meat cooks alarmingly fast because of how lean it is. We still had some of the mushrooms left from the other dishes I cooked, so I added those to the pot too.
Now this is where my amounts get a little iffy. I’ve cooked a dish like this since before I was married many years ago, so I don’t really know the exact amounts, but I can tell you roughly what else it has. The venison needed a little sauce to really keep it from being dry in the meat pies. I cast about in the fridge and found a lonely little bottle of homemade stout beer that a friend had gifted my husband with and it bravely sacrificed itself to the cause. To this, I added a goodly splash of soy sauce and another goodly splash of some homemade white vinegar I had on hand. Spices added included a large quantity of black pepper, but also a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, long pepper, cubebs, and salt. All this simmered away merrily at medium low heat until the liquid had turned to a thickened gravy and everything was nicely coated.
 This is where I used Shawn’s awesome crust recipe using some of the last of the homemade apple sauce I had on hand.
The flour was the whole wheat flour I had from Hampshire Farms. I love this crust because it behaves so very nicely to everything. My next goal with it is to roll it thinner. I am so glad Gaylin liked this crust, though I really can’t take credit for it personally. Vegetarian Times really hit a winner with this one. We make it in triple batches, freeze it with the banana-black bean filling they have in their recipe, and freeze them for snacks and lunches. They come out perfectly every time, and it’s nice that we have a use for any extra applesauce we make and don’t get eaten!
After the mixture had cooled to room temperature, I separated the pie crust into 6 good sized chunks, rolled them out into thin ovals, set the filling in the center and rolled them up, crimping the edges. These went into a 350F oven for about 45 minutes until the crusts had browned nicely and I was confident that the filling was hot through. Onto a rack to cool completely and then I packed them away from the trip, layered between wax papers just in case there was any residual moisture that leaked. I didn’t want them to stick together.
These would likely work with beef, too, and I may give that a try soon since I doubt I’ll get any more venison before winter (since it is, after all, illegal to hunt them at the moment). Tomorrow, the finishing touches, and a wrap-up of how this whole thing worked out!
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5 responses to “Weekend Cooler Challenge Recipe: Venison

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