Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Venison Tamale Pie

The new kitchen cabinets and countertops (that were a result of the unfortunate events of late last year) are now fully installed and functional, and I have to say its great to have a nice place to cook again.  I'm celebrating my return to domestic normalcy with a cervidaceous take on a classic casserole, tamale pie.   After some Googling about the origins of this dish, the general idea is that it was invented by Americans who wanted to approximate the taste of a real tamale without the work of stuffing corn husks.  Its not a recent invention either, published recipes for it date back to at least 1905.  It is, of course, basically a kind of meat pie (although plenty of meatless versions circulated during wartime shortages), typically with ground beef cooked between, or under, layers of corn meal batter.  I though this would be a good way to use up some venison shoulder chunks I had in the freezer.  I started by putting the shoulder meat in my trusty crock pot with a large container of beef stock, a chopped onion, and a few minced cloves of garlic.  I left this on high for about 5 hours, then on low for another couple hours. 

New countertops and cabinets, same old crockpot.
Since this is a dish that seems to have been designed by American housewives as a quick and fairly cheap way to feed their families, I thought I would just stick to typical ingredients to make it "authentic":  Three boxes of Jiffy corn bread mix, a can of Ro-Tel, a fresh pepper (this is a Cubanelle because they looked really good that day), chili powder, onion and garlic. 

When the meat was ready to go, I sauted the onion, garlic, pepper, with about half the can of Ro-Tel until they were slightly softened.

Veggies diced and sauteing
Shredded venison shoulder.
I went ahead and pulled some of the venison out of the crock pot (the rest is for another dish in the near future) and shredded it well.  I combined it with the veggies in the pan along with chili powder and some of the crock pot stock and let it simmer down for a bit.

Filling cooking down.
I used some more of the crock pot stock instead of the suggested milk to make the corn meal batter, then spread it in an even layer across the bottom of a Pyrex baking pan.

Filling on top of lower cornmeal batter layer.
Spread the meat filling on top of the first corn meal batter layer then spread another batter layer on top.  

Top layer of cornmeal batter in place.
Fully cooked and ready to go.

I got invited to go saltwater fishing on a chartered boat out of Islamorada in a few weeks.  My saltwater fishing experience is about nil, but I'm really looking forward to a day on the water.  I think we will be doing some blue water stuff out in the gulf stream for dolphin and mahi and maybe fishing some reefs for grouper.  There will definitely be some updates on that, and hopefully some fish recipes to follow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sausage. Long overdue.

Haven't posted anything in a long while, I realized.  I was by myself for a month while the man went to visit his family in the old country, and I quit cooking anything too grandiose after a while.  However, I did make a feeble attempt at creating venison sausage, so here is my long overdue report on that endeavor. 

I started with this bowl of cubed deer meat and fat.  I wanted to used raw pork fat, but I was too late in the day to get any from the local grocery stores, so I settled for fatback instead.  The venison was scraps of shoulder and some flank steak, basically what I salvaged from around the bloodshot impact point on Queen Mother.  I found an old hand-cranked grinder at a thrift shop for $7, it worked fairly well at producing the minced meat.

I added in a lot of herbs, dried basil, rosemary, paprika, etc.  and squished it together.
Here is the main pile divvied up, the closest one doesn't have herbs in it because I was making it into maple sausage.  The other two are hot and mild Italian-like sausage.  
Sausage bagged up for storage.
Breakfast for One.