Friends of ours gifted us with some venison this week, received from friends of theirs who had shot and butchered a deer. I’m not exactly sure where the deer came from but I’m pretty confident that it was somewhere in the Northeast; our friends live in Connecticut, not far from Mystic, and the deer probably came from either New Hampshire or the Adirondacks in NY. It seemed a perfect candidate for this week’s Dark Days spotlight meal.
I’m not a big meat eater. You’ll notice no beef recipes at all on this site; my Mom became a vegetarian when I was 11 years old and, over time, I ate so little beef that I lost the enzyme to break down beef protein (it’ll go down, but it won’t stay there). I’ve also never been a fan of dark meat; chicken or turkey legs, duck, rabbit; I know it is supposed to have all the flavor, but something about the greasier texture just does not appeal. So, I’m the classic white meat girl: chicken, turkey, pork, occasional forays into wackiness like ostrich, alligator and rattlesnake, but no lamb, venison, duck, rabbit, elk, moose, etc. I had actually never tried venison until last night.
I’m not an overnight convert. The venison verde was good and I enjoyed it more than I expected to (which, honestly, was not at all). There was no gamey flavor (which, if I understand correctly, has as much to do with how the meat is butchered and prepared as anything else) but there was a certain wildness to the meat. I can see the appeal; much like heritage breed farmed animals that are allowed to forage, each animal should take on the flavor of it’s foraging grounds, making each one taste a little different. Similar, but unique. I can’t say that I would search it out but… Tai enjoyed it.
Tai was the chef-master for this local meal. A few non-local ingredients snuck in there: olive oil (since we are out of bacon grease) and commercial chicken stock (since I did not remind Tai that there was homemade turkey stock in the freezer), but other than that, this was local, wild, and, because the work of making the chile verde base was all done in the summer, quite easy. A win-win-win.
Adapted from Chile Verde, by Elise and Arturu Vargas, at Simply Recipes
Venison Chile Verde
- 1/2 recipe Chile Verde Base (freshly prepared or frozen)
- 1 – 2 lb venison steaks, cut into 1-inch cubes
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil or bacon grease
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 cup stock, chicken, vegetable or other
- pinch of ground cloves
- Season venison generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil or grease in a small Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering; brown venison on all sides (in batches if necessary, do not crowd the pot) then remove from pot and set aside.
- Add onions and garlic to the pot, adding more fat if necessary (or a little stock to prevent the vegetables from sticking), and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Return venison to the pot; add the chile verde base, stock, oregano and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 2 – 3 hours, or until the venison is very tender and the verde sauce has reduced and turned a rich greeny-brown color. Serve over rice or with whole wheat tortillas.
Yields 4 to 6 servings.
- I usually make chile verde with the traditional pork shoulder; the pork has more fat and adds a lot of flavor to the chile. The venison was good; not gamey so much as wild tasting, and so lean that it allowed the flavor of the tomatillos and chiles to really shine through. I’ve also made a version with chicken; also very lean and not as rich as a pork chile verde, but the chicken gets so tender that it will shred, making a thick, delicious stew.
Like all stews, this will thicken and improve on the second day and will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Tomatillos are in season in August, and deer are usually hunted in winter. With frozen chile verde base and frozen deer meat, this dish can be made year round.
- Venison: wild Northeast deer
- Onion, garlic: Madura Farms, Goshen, NY
- Tomatillos, chile peppers, cilantro and other chile verde base ingredients: Ryder Farm CSA, Brewster, NY (made and frozen in Summer ‘09)
- Oregano (dried Summer ’09): Ryder Farm CSA, Brewster, NY
- Chicken stock: Trader Joe’s (away)
- Olive oil: Kalamata extra-virgin, Greece
- Salt, pepper, cloves: away