Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smoked Roast Venison

Big game hunting season has come to an end here in Montana, and with it comes the time for cooking and preparing our venison to keep us full until next September. Of course, if you have a “River Bottom” tag like I do, you’ll get another six weeks to drag home whitetail does.

Venison is a fine, lean meat that is somewhat richer than beef. Venison is a particularly healthy red meat, as it is lower in fat and calories than comparable cuts of beef, and it is quite a bit cheaper if you’ve cleaned and cut up the deer yourself.

If you’re looking for a way to preserve the tenderness and flavor of a venison roast without drying it out or overcooking it, smoking is the way to go. Smoking will always lend the meat a tender, fresh quality that’s hard to beat. This recipe is a simple and straightforward way to create a mouthwatering roast fit for a 5-star restaurant in your home. This recipe can also be prepared using several different cuts of venison.

Smoked Roast Venison
5-7 pound Venison Roast, Loin, or Shoulder
½ pound of Bacon, finely chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, slivered
Fresh ground Pepper, to taste
1 c. Red Wine, dry
½ c. Olive oil

Reserved pan juice
1 c. Beef Broth
2 slices of Bacon
3 T. Flour
Salt and Pepper, to taste

First trim the skin and fat from the meat. Using a small sharp knife, cut slits across the surface of the roast. Stuff the slits with garlic slivers and some of the chopped bacon. Using a meat brush, coat the roast with olive oil and sprinkle with the fresh ground pepper to taste.

Prepare your smoker for the roast by filling the water pan with water and ½ c. of the red wine. Place the prepared smoker over a hot fire.

After setting the roast on the smoker rack, cover and let it smoke for 5 hours. Make sure to feed the fire with charcoal briquettes at even intervals to maintain the cooking temperature. Baste the meat once an hour with the remaining olive oil. Be sure not to leave the smoker lid open for very long or your cooking temperature will drop.

When the internal temperature of the roast reaches 130-135 degrees, move it to a Dutch oven or cast iron frying pan and add the remaining ½ c. of red wine. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 165-170 degrees.

Reserve the pan juice from the roast for the gravy.

Directions for Gravy:
First dice the bacon and sauté, which will render the fat. Using a stiff whisk, stir in the flour a little at a time. Gradually add the reserved pan juices and beef broth. Stir until the gravy is smooth and thick, adding salt and pepper t taste.

Serve the roast hot and smothered in gravy, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Photo courtesy CitizenKayt

Monday, November 21, 2011

Honey and Garlic Bull Moose Meatballs

I touched down in snowy Missoula last Friday after an epic two-month trip to Kauai (from which I pull recipes and stories to share time and again). However, during a layover in Salt Lake City, I noticed a framed photo of what looked like two moose nuzzling and it made me think of how tasty moose meat is. One of my fondest memories of the meat is having it during a lunch break on a daylong guided fly fishing trip on Rock Creek. Our guide had harvested a moose and made his own perfectly seasoned summer sausage.

In most states that are home to Bull Moose, as Montana is, hunting the animals requires winning a lottery where numerous people put in for a very small number of licenses. For those lucky enough to have bagged a Bull Moose this hunting season, or are still trying, finding the best ways to prepare the meat can be tricky. There are ample recipes out there, but until you have shot a moose, it is easy to underestimate the amount of meat to be gained from a single animal. Even if you have simply been offered moose meat by a friend, coming up with a simple and delicious way to prepare it can be tricky.

If you are looking for a creative recipe that can help you make use of ground Bull Moose meat, then this recipe is perfect for you. This dish combines the savory flavor of garlic, the unique meat flavor of Bull Moose, and the sweetness of honey to really offer a unique taste on the palate.  Best of all, however, it is a fairly simple dish that takes only a small amount of preparation time. In all, the dish can go from prep to table in about an hour; a little longer if you need to grind the meat yourself. If doing so, you want to go for roughly the same grind as your average hamburger meat from the grocery store.

Honey and Garlic Bull Moose Meatballs
½ c. honey
¼ c. soy sauce
¼ c. minced garlic
2 T. garlic powder
3 T. onion powder
3 pounds ground Bull Moose
2 T. canola oil

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, stir your honey, soy sauce, and minced garlic in a small saucepan. Slowly mix in the garlic and onion powders, bringing the mixture to a simmer and then reducing the heat to medium-low. After about fifteen minutes simmering on this setting, set the mixture aside.

While simmering your sauce, go ahead and roll your meat into meatballs, using roughly two tablespoons of meat per meatball. In a large skillet, start heating the canola oil at the medium-high heat setting and cook each batch of meatballs until thoroughly cooked. This should take about ten to fifteen minutes per batch. After draining the meatballs, place them in a baking dish with your sauce, ensuring that all meatballs are thoroughly coated. Bake for about twenty minutes to allow the sauce to mix into the meat and serve.

You will find that this dish offers a great flavor that is both sweet and meaty. It’s fairly traditional in terms of meatball recipes, but it is a great way to make use of moose without the need to spend countless hours cooking. You will find that the recipe will translate well into a slow cooker recipe as well, using a low heat setting to ensure that the sauce has a full day to soak into the meat. This variation can be a bit more time consuming, but requires little added effort for significantly greater flavor within the meatballs.

Photo courtesy A.Poulos (Iya)