Deer that Swim Rivers + Stuffed Backstrap

Chive & Onion Stuffed Venison Back strap

Serves 2

  • 1 Venison back strap
  • 4 oz. Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
  • 2 slices thick bacon
  • Deer seasoning- I use Hi Mountain Seasonings
  • Meat mallet or hammer wrapped in foil

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. On a cutting board, butterfly and tenderize meat with a mallet (or hammer wrapped in aluminum foil works too) so it flattens thin. Place in baking dish.

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2. Season with Deer SeasoningHi Mountain Seasonings is based out of Riverton, Wyoming, our nearest neighboring town, and has some great products for jerky & sausage making.

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3. Spread 1/2 the container (4 oz.) of cream cheese down center line of steak.

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4. Roll steak up & tightly wrap one piece of bacon around each end of steak to secure. 20151015_175629

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes–check at 30 minutes. It took mine 35 minutes to get to medium rare. 20151015_185052

Last year after harvesting a bull elk I decided that the next season I would focus on deer hunting. This turned out to be a good decision, seeing as how little did I know, I would be unable to hike or ride a horse by the time hunting season came around this year due to a bad herniated disc.

Keeping in mind areas that required little walking, Joe and I set out in the truck in search of a whitetail one evening after work, to a spot where he had seen one earlier in the week. After a short five minute walk, which at this point I could handle because it was right after my third steroid injection, we came up to the top of the small hill where we planned to sit out of sight and watch the area below. Except, when we got to the top of the hill, standing below 130 yards away on the other side of the Wind River was a heavy mule deer buck.

So much for sitting and waiting. Joe & I crawled over the rocky ground about 20 yards through sage brush and cactus, me holding my gun in one hand and my coat sleeve over the other. I got to a rock where I could lay down and get a good rest, with the deer still unaware of our presence above him. I took my time and squeezed off a shot before he moved any further behind a willow bush. He took a few steps forward, and I still had a shot, which I took just in case.

I couldn’t have been happier at how it all turned out. However, really the fun part had just begun. Now we had to get this guy across the river, which is knee/thigh high on a man, swift, and about 25 yards across. The outfitter that Joe guides for lives nearby and brought his 4-wheeler, however the willows were so dense in the marshy area along the riverbed there was no getting to the river with it. Now, with daylight waning, Joe donned chest waders and made his way across the water with rope and his knives while I waited. After gutting the deer, he proceeded to cut it in half and swim each half across the river in the dark using rope tied off to a thick stick which he hung on to. It was  both comical and a little nerve-wracking to watch! Seeing the amount of force generated by the current pushing the dead weight of the animal downstream was intense. Success!

20151007_193709_LLSA few days later I cooked up the back strap, and the combination of tender venison and chive and onion cream cheese held in place by bacon was quite tasty.

 

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Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs

Last night I got home rather late and debated whether I wanted to put the effort and time into making a “real” dinner for myself, as right now I am still cooking for one each night due to Joe’s work schedule during the winter season, but, I had a quick snack (almond butter and carrots are a new current fave!) and got to work, still managing to put dinner on the table at 7 pm on the dot. Inspired by this recipe from the Nevada Foodies,  http://www.nevadafoodies.com/pesto-mozzarella-stuffed-venison-meatballs/, I picked up some pepperoni on my way home from work and got stuffin’! This recipe would easily serve 4, especially with a salad on the side to go with. For us, we will have some tasty leftovers.

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 Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs Yield- 21 meatballs, 1 inch diameter

  • 3/4 lbs ground elk burger
  • 3/4 lbs ground venison breakfast sausage
  • 1 tablespoon dry pesto
  • 1/2 cup wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup+ 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, divided into (3) 2-Tbsp. portions
  • ~1/8 lb thick sliced pepperoni (approx. (5) 2-inch diameter slices)
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic salt
  • 2 cups dry rotini pasta
  • 1 tsp. butter (optional)

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If making your own breadcrumbs, process in food processor until you have about 1/2 cup. I keep a few frozen bread heels and bread slices that were going stale in the freezer in a ziplock bag and them process them in chunks as needed for breadcrumbs.

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In a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon or your clean hands, combine ground burger and ground breakfast sausage with egg white, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire.

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  Sprinkle in pesto and 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and mix into meat.

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Stuff each meatball with a piece of pepperoni.

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 Spray a baking dish (8×8 inch) with cooking spray & form meatballs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta.

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Drain water and sprinkle pasta with garlic salt and the last 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and stir. Add in a tsp. of butter, if desired.

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Set aside and keep warm.
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 Pull meatballs from oven and sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

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 Serve meatballs on top of pasta immediately.

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Jade, while eagerly helping me cook dinner in the kitchen, became very distracted by a barking dog on t.v. and ran over to check it out!

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Yup, there it is!

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Although the smell of the meatballs eventually brought her back to reality. Anyone else have a dog that checks out the t.v. dogs like this? I will say that while Jade will occasionally cock her head to the side at the t.v. when dogs bark or coyotes yip on the hunting channel,  this is the first time she has ever run to the t.v., and she is 11 years old!

Venison Bratwurst Slow Cooker Style

Grilling outdoors is one of the best parts about summer. We have had some teaser weather lately with temps in the high 40’s, but still a bit too cold and dark for cooking on the grill. But, the good news is the creek is open for the horses so I can stop chopping ice- yay! Although I don’t mind visiting these guys at all…

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Whatcha got there…? Candy? Do I see horse candy?!

There are still about 8 packages of homemade venison brats in our freezer that were made last fall, and I am  slowly using them up. To make the venison brats, we used a kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings and added in frozen hash browns and diced yellow onions while grinding the meat prior to stuffing it into casings.

I saw on a pin on Pinterest a few weeks ago about cooking hot dogs in bulk in a slow cooker, and thought that the crockpot would be perfect for making brats during the winter months when using the outdoor grill is not an option and boiling them takes FORever. In the spirit of warm weather and to use up our remaining potatoes from the garden that are now growing eyes, I served these brats with MO’s Potato Salad.

Venison Bratwurst Slow Cooker Style

Serves 3

  • 3 homemade venison bratwurst
  • 1/4 cup water + 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced into strips
  • Hotdog buns/ bread
  • 3/4 tsp. yellow mustard (optional)

1. Slice onion into thin strips.

2. Pour 1/4 cup water into a frying pan and sear brats in the pan on medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes, turning once just so they start to brown on both sides and do not scorch.

3. Place brats in crockpot with 1/2 cup of  water and chicken broth and top with onions. Squirt in 3/4 tsp. yellow mustard, if desired. I really like the little kick that it added to the flavor of these brats, but the mustard is totally optional if it’s not your thing.

4. Cook on LOW for 6 hours of HIGH for 4 hours.

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4. Serve topped with onions.  (And then buried in ketchup!)

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MO’s Potato Salad

  • 4 medium yukon gold potatoes, or equivalent
  • 3 hardboiled eggs (my parents are nice enough to give me eggs from their chickens once a week!)
  • 3 T. yellow onion, diced
  • ~1/2 c. Hellman’s Light Mayo
  • 1 T. French’s yellow mustard
  • Pickle Juice, to taste (I probably pour in around 1/4 c)
  • salt & pepper

1. Wash, peel and boil potatoes.

Gardening Tip- Our potatoes were harvested in Septmeber in are just now developing significant eye growth. Store extra potatoes in a cool, dark place, such as a closet or paper bag, and they will last for months.

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2. Drain water from potatoes and stick pot in the freezer for five minutes.

3. Add in remaining ingredients and combine. I like to make a creamier potato salad so I use a hand mixer to combine. If you like a chunkier potato texture, combine with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until ingredients are incorporated.

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4. Chill in refrigerator covered and serve.

Crockpot Mushroom and Onion Venison Steaks

This crockpot recipe results in tender steaks and creates its own gravy.

Crockpot Mushroom and Onion Venison Steaks

Serves 4

  • 1 lb vension steaks
  • 1/2 c diced yellow onion
  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 packet Lipton Onion Soup/Dip
  • 1 c. 7-Up or Sprite
  • Season salt
  • Garlic pepper

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1. Place steaks in crockpot and season.

2. Add in soups, and then pour on 1/2 can or 1 c. of 7-Up.

3.  Cook on low 4-6 hours. I usually serve with potatoes and a vegetable, but it could also be served over pasta or rice.

Making Your Own: Venison Breakfast Sausage

What can I say, nothing beats homemade breakfast sausage that tastes as good or better than the storebought variety. While I know it is not always possible to do for a variety of reasons ranging from cost to time to lack of space, I also really appreciate being able to be a part of the entire hunting process, from the harvest to the processing to putting the meal on the table. Yesterday Joe and I made 18 lbs. of venison breakfast sausage with his late whitetail buck. He is a very nice older deer who will eventually have a place on our wall, and as such, we decided not to just cut steaks or make burger (which we have enough of from my elk to get us through the year), but to make sausage.

Using this kit, the Mountain Man Original Breakfast Sausage kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings, we used 12 lbs of venison that we had already previously grinded, and added in 6 lbs of grinded pork. For the best flavor at a cost-effective rate, we typically buy pork butt roasts (“Boston butts”) to add in with the venison when making summer sausage and breakfast sausage.  We bought 4 pork butt roasts from Smith’s during our trip to the big city last weekend using my Smith’s card, and after trimming them of excess skin, ground them up for a total of 22 pounds of pork for right around $50.

We added in both of the included pouches of seasonings into the vension/pork meat mixture and combined them together in the electric mixer for about 5 minutes. Last year when we followed the instructions pound-for-pound using a different flavor, we found our sausage to be very bland, and this year it is perfect, so I would recommend adding in a little more seasoning than is called for to get the best results.

Let the photo above be a reminder of how important it is to label what you process because even though you think you will remember the difference between the white bags and white with black bags six months from now, there is a good chance you won’t. Same with steaks and such– I opened an unlabelled vacuum-sealed package a few months back to find that it wasn’t leftover ground bratwurst as I had planned, but unknown-species steaks!

Typcially the game processing for us goes something like this: let meat hang in shop, butcher, wrap steaks using vacuum sealer, process immediately or freeze remaining meat to grind and then process later (1 week- 1 month later) into one of the following: burger, breakfast sausage, summer sausage, snack stick, trail bologna, and this year even pepperoni,which I cannot wait to try! Homemade pizza recipes to come!

If you have the resources available or can team with someone else who does, I highly recommend making some of this breakfast sausage. Also, slowly adding to your meat processing equipment year by year is a good way to gradually build up, without breaking the bank. A vacuum-sealer one year, grinder the next, etc. will go a long way toward enabling you to process your meat yourself. We are fortunate to be able to team with both sets of parents in sharing equipment, so that everyone benefits in the end. If your family lives close, meat processing equipment makes great gifts, just a thought for those holiday shoppers out there!

Venison Potato Brat Omelet

I have eaten my fair share of deer brats over the past 10 months and still have about 15 packages to go. While I am so thankful for the deer, harvested last fall with my late season deer tag, and for the meat it provided us, I am a little tired of eating brats in the traditional form on a bun (or in a rolled up piece of bread if you too cheap to buy buns, wink wink). To use up the rest of the stockpile, I have gotten creative. This is the second time I have made Venison Potato Brat Omelets. I really like eating brats this way, and it is a filling, quick, and inexpensive meal that would be great for breakfast, too. This is a basic recipe, so of course feel free to add additional vegetables, different cheeses, etc. to suit your taste.

Venison brats, thanks to this guy:

For this recipe you could substitue non-game brats just as easily. To make the venison brats, we used a kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings and added in frozen hash browns and diced yellow onions while grinding the meat prior to stuffing it into casings. Hi Mountain is a local company that has a variety of products to process your own game.

Venison Potato Brat Omelet

Serves 2

2 Venison brats

1 T. olive oil

1/4 c. diced yellow onion

2 diced green onions (I had just harvested them from the garden and needed to use them)

3 eggs

1 T. milk

2 oz. pepperjack cheese, slices torn up or shredded

1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c water

salsa, optional

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1. Dice onions and sautee in 1 T. olive oil. Slice up uncooked brats into round pieces and add to onions.  Add 1/2 c water to frying pan so that the brats don’t get scorched. Cook on medium heat covered with lid. Stir gently with a spatula every few minutes and add more water if necessary.

2. Meanwhile, scramble 3 eggs with 1 T. milk. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

3. The brats take about 10-15 minutes to cook through. Once they are done, turn down the heat to low and add in the egg mixture.

4. Cover with lid, cook on low for 1-2 minutes until eggs begin to set and turn off heat.  Once eggs begin to set, add cheeses and cover with lid to melt the cheese. DO NOT STIR. Make sure the heat is low enough here that the bottom does not burn.

5. Remove from heat and use a spatula to cut omelet into pieces. Serve with salsa if you like.