I love venison, and I love hearty meals. So even though it’s been 80-something degrees outside lately, I still find myself longing for a nice, rich meal. The trick to pulling off a heavy meal is to cook early or cook outside, and enjoy as the day cools off.
Today I made the best of a rainy day, and pulled together a Hunter’s pie, which is just a cool name for a venison shepherd’s pie. Everything is basically the same, but instead of lamb or beef, I’ve used ground venison.
Ground venison is wonderful. Because deer are so lean, you get a really nice, small crumble when you cook it. Grinding is also a great way to use up odd shapes cuts, cuts you may have damaged if sloppily butchering, or those not-quite-so-tasty/tender cuts.
Venison is an awesome alternative to beef, and a healthy meat, if there ever was one. It’s lean, has less cholesterol than chicken or turkey, and actually works to lower your bad cholesterol and increase the good. It’s low on saturated fats, and a really good source of iron, too. Nevermind, it’s just delicious. Since we rarely eat beef, I have recently discovered that I don’t actually enjoy the taste of beef anymore, I’ve just grown so accustomed to venison.
Anyway, enough extolling the virtues of venison (but seriously, you should try to find some and try it!). On to the recipe! You can, of course, use any ground meat you prefer. You can also swap out vegetables as you choose. Please note that all my measurements are for fresh, while vegetables. You will have to adjust if you use precut or canned. Green beans go great in this too, but I didn’t have any today. If it’s an option for you, cooking in a Dutch oven means you can do all your work (except boiling the potatoes, unless you do those way before) in one pan!! Talk about easy cleanup!
Servings – 4
6-8 red potatoes
1-lb ground venison
1/2 white onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
Kernels from 1/2 large corn cob
4 tb. unsalted butter, divided in half
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 red wine
1 tb. Cumin
1 tb. Garlic powder
1 tb. Paprika
Salt & Pepper
Cooking oil of your choice (if using venison, please remember it is very lean and can use a little fat to keep from sticking. I use vegetable oil for this, or even saved bacon fat, versus olive or anything lean)
Shredded cheese (optional)
Parsley (optional, for garnish)
- Cube, and begin boiling potatoes. Dice all vegetables. Heat oil in Dutch oven (or sauté pan) and sauté all vegetables over medium-high heat until slightly tender.
- Add ground venison, all seasonings, salt and pepper. Cook until browned.
- Add 2 tb.Butter, whisk in flour and once incorporated, add. 1/4 red wine. Reduce until it begins to thicken, then remove from heat.
- Drain potatoes, mash with remaining 2 tb. butter. Dump in on top of venison-vegetable mixture, and smooth out with a spatula.
- Gqrnish with cheese and parsley, if desired, and bake at 325 until potatoes are slightly browned on top and cheese has melted.
If you you are making ahead, like I did this morning, wait to put on the cheese until you are going to bake it. You can just put the whole thing in the fridge until you are ready. Then pop it on the oven until it is heated through again!