As the summer months heat up, I look for wild game dishes that can be served at parties, potlucks and picnics at room temperature. This braised venison dish is perfect for summer gatherings because it can be made in advance, then allowed to marinate for up to several days before serving. This allows you to get all of the stovetop cooking out of the way well in advance. And the best part? This recipe is the perfect way to make use of all of those miscellaneous meat scraps that you gather when butchering, ones that don’t seem to belong to any one cut but are good to save anyhow.
First use a muscular cut of meat that you can braise for a long time. It becomes buttery and soft and the meat easily pulls apart. Second, use color in the accompanying ingredients that you incorporate into the meat once it cools—such as radishes, carrots, cilantro and other vegetables that are crunchy, tangy and full of bright colors. You can expand on the ingredients below, adding a little extra spice or a different pickle if you choose; capers would be a nice choice. Just make sure you use ample vinegar to keep it tangy.
I highly recommend making a big batch of this at once and having a taco party. If you have time, homemade corn tortillas will make these extra special. The meat mixture will store well in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you don’t have venison try bison, beef, wild boar, elk, pork or whatever you fancy.
Ingredients: • 2 pounds venison shoulder, or other muscular cut • 1 medium white onion, cut into chunks • 2 bay leaves • 1/4 cup Kosher salt • 1 tablespoon cinnamon • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar • 1/4 cup olive oil • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar • 1 cup diced tomato • 1 large cucumber, seeds removed and diced • 6-8 radishes, diced • 2 cups pickled julienned carrots, (or another pickled vegetable available in your grocery store) • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped • Juice of 2 limes • Salt and pepper, to taste
To serve: • Creme fraiche, to garnish • Lime wedges, to garnish • Corn tortillas
1. In a large pot, add the venison, onion, bay leaves and salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook partly covered for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and shreds easily. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
2. Remove the meat from the liquid with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Pull the meat apart with your hands, until it is shredded.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed when ready to serve.