Smoky Venison Stew with Herbed Pasta


This venison stew recipe is packed with flavor. From the broth, to the venison, to the pasta - every element is needed to perfect this ultra savory dish.

- Ingredients -

Broth
Venison bones (about a pound)
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 carrot
1 large shallot
2 garlic cloves, smashed
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup red wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Pasta
¾ cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dry crushed rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sage

Venison
1 lb venison
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Vegetables
3 red potatoes
1 carrot
1 large shallot
1 handful kale


- Tools -
Weston Cone Strainer
Weston Pasta Machine with Lasagnette Cutter
Weston Smoker
Weston French Fry Cutter & Dicer



Broth

Roast the venison bones in the oven at 400°F until browned.

Transfer the bones into a stock pot and pour in the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 6-8 hours.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 2 hours. Use a Cone Strainer to separate the bones & veggies from the broth. Keep the broth simmering.




Pasta

While the broth simmers, prepare your pasta (you can do this a day before).

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly, then form them into a mound. Dig a well into the center with your fingers, then break the egg into the center. Use a fork to mash the dry ingredients into the egg until the pasta dough forms.

Use a Pasta Machine to roll the dough into sheets, then use a Pasta Cutting Attachment to form your noodles. We used our Lasagnette Attachment, then twisted the noodles to make spirals. Let the noodles air dry.



Venison

Preheat your Smoker to 200°F, fill the water bowl, and soak your wood chips for at least 30 minutes.

Coat the outside of your piece of venison completely with a mixture of the pepper and garlic. Sear in a hot skillet for a minute on each side (until browned).



Smoke the venison for 2 hours.

Once smoked, allow the venison to rest.



Vegetables

Use a Weston French Fry Cutter & Vegetable Dicer with the ½" blade to chop the carrot, potatoes, and shallot. Place the veggies into the simmering broth.



Finish it off

Cook the pasta in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until al dente, then add it to the stew.



Cube the venison and drop it in. Finally, rip the kale into smaller pieces, mix into the stew, then serve.


Tip Tuesday: Game Processing - What Gear Do I Need to Start Out?

We get asked this question a lot. For a first time game processor, jerky guns, dehydrators, meat packaging supplies, etc. can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming. We're going to keep it simple for you as a newbie. Only the must-have gear. Without further ado, here are the top three Weston Essentials if you're just starting out.

1. Good knife set, specifically made for game processing

Even if you decide to send some of your deer to the processor and keep some of it to take care of yourself, you're going to need some knives. And not just any old knives. There's a reason some of us make Game Processing Knife Sets. You're going to need a caper, and a filet knife, and a butcher knife. Maybe even some shears. And a cleaver. Oh, and a saw. 




2. Vacuum Sealer
You don't want all of that hard work to go to waste, now do you? The vacuum sealer is the absolute best way to keep your wild game meat fresh. With a variety of bag sizes, and the ability to write on them, they'll also help keep your freezer organized. Truth is: Once you start sawing away, it will get increasingly difficult to tell your cuts apart. Seal them and label them right away, and you'll be good to go.



3. Meat Grinder
Let's be honest - there's no other way to make ground meat. You're going to need a meat grinder if you're going to make sausage, burgers, meatloaf, etc. out of your wild game. And of course you're going to do that. There are simply some cuts that just aren't prime, and you're going to grind them, season them up, and turn them into sausage. It's going to happen. 






Grape Pie with a Weston Tomato Press


Concord grape pie - perfectly sweet. Perfectly tart. Just right for the holidays.

Makes one pie

- Ingredients -

Pie crust
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup butter
4 tablespoons ice water
¼ teaspoon salt

Grape filling
4 lbs concord grapes
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crumble for the top
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup oats or granola (we like to use Bear Naked Granola in Vanilla Almond)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon kosher or flake salt


- Tools -
Weston Tomato Press
Pie plate


1. Prepare your pie crust. Mix together the flour and salt, then cut in the butter. Drizzle the ice water in, then mix until the dough forms. Shape into your pie plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

3. Use your Weston Tomato Press with the standard screen and grape spiral to puree the grapes while removing the skin and seeds. Run the pulp through a few times.


4. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it simmers, stir in the flour until uniform. Add the grape puree a cup at a time, stirring constantly. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.


5. Pour the grape filling into your pie crust. Combine dry ingredients for your crumble, then use your fingers to press the butter in. Crumble the mixture over the filling.


6. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Cover the outer crust with foil, then return to the oven and bake for another 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is solid. It's a good idea to place a baking sheet under the pie plate - the filling is likely to boil over.


7. Allow to cool, then serve.


Venison Wellington (kind of...)


I'd say this is BETTER than Venison Wellington - sure it's wrapped in puff pastry (and everything's better wrapped in puff pastry) - but it's also stuffed with pears, gruyere cheese, and proscuitto. Oh, and did we mention the Venison loin is smoked first? And that we made a red wine demi-glace for the top? Yeah, this thing is GOOD.

Serves 2-4

- Ingredients -

Venison
1 lb venison loin
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For stuffing
1 pear
6 slices proscuitto
6 slices gruyere cheese

For wrapping
1 sheet puff pastry

Red Wine Demi-Glace
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 small yellow onion

- Tools -
Weston Smoker + wood chips
Weston Butcher Twine
Weston Apple Peeler


1. Soak the woodchips and preheat your smoker to 150 degrees F.

2. Tightly tie the rosemary sprigs to the venison loin using Twine.

3. Smoke the venison for 1 hour, with heavy smoke, until the internal temperature is 130.


4. Let the venison cool, then refrigerate for an hour to chill.

5. Prepare the Red Wine Demi-Glace while the venison cools. Melt the butter in a hot skillet. Add the flour and stir. Once the flour browns, add the wine and water, continuously stirring. Then add the remaining ingredients. Turn the heat to low, stirring occasionally until the venison is ready.

6. Preheat your oven to 400.

7. Use your Apple Peeler to core and slice the pear.

8. Cut slits about an inch apart into the venison loin. Stuff with slices of pear, cheese, and proscuitto.


9. Wrap the loin in puff pastry. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

10. Slice so that each piece has the stuffing in the middle.

11. Serve with Red Wine Demi-Glace.





Tip Tuesday: Slicing Jerky Meat


There are a couple of best practices for slicing jerky. 

1. Use a Jerky Slicer for perfect strips. 

A jerky slicer is just that, and it will allow for perfect strips without having to think about thickness. It's as easy as dropping a steak into the hopper of the slicer and turning the handle. You could also motorize the slicer if you're making a ton of jerky - then you don't even have to turn the handle!

2. An Electric Meat Slicer is also a good tool. 

While you have to set the dial to the appropriate thickness, slicing jerky with an electric slicer is essentially work-free. You put your steak on the stage of the slicer and push and pull the stage against the blade. Oh, and you have to turn the slicer on first. 


3. If you’re skilled, you can certainly use a Knife Set.

Obviously slicing jerky isn't rocket science, however, when you're drying the jerky meat, you need the slices to be as uniform as possible - otherwise, you'll end up with jerky that's too done and jerky that's not even close to dry. the other potential shortcoming to using a knife set is that you need to slice your jerky to ½ inch or thinner. Which takes some skill.

4. Slice against the grain for tender jerky, or slice with the grain for chewier jerky.

This is a tip for everyone, no matter what you use to slice. 


Chimichurri Jerky in a Weston Dehydrator


This is one of the most flavorful jerky recipes we've ever concocted! It's a particularly good recipe for lesser cuts of meat and less tasty animals because of its intense flavor. And because the flavors are so bold, it's also great for frequent beef jerky makers who are just looking for a different recipe. Try it!

Makes about 1/2 lb.

- Ingredients -

1 lb. venison, elk, or beef

Marinade
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

- Tools -
Weston Meat Slicer or Jerky Slicer
Weston Kitchen Kit or 3-in-1 Grater
Weston Dehydrator



1. Slice the meat to ¼" thick with a Meat Slicer (or use a Jerky Slicer).


2. Combine marinade ingredients in a Kitchen Kit with the chopper attached and turn the handle until chopped finely (or use a Grater to mince the herbs & garlic, then mix into the rest of the marinade).


3. Mix the meat into the marinade and refrigerate, covered, overnight, or vacuum seal and allow to marinate for 4-6 hours.


4. Dehydrate at 140° for 6 hours, or until the jerky is dry, but still bends (doesn't break).



Cinnamon-Chili Smoked Corn in a Weston Smoker


Shake up that clam bake! Make these. 


- Ingredients -
four ears of corn, husks on
¼ cup butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
a couple sprinkles kosher salt

- Tools -
Weston Smoker
wood smoking chips


1. Soak corn in cold water for at least 2 hours. Have your wood chips soaking at the same time.

2. Preheat your smoker to 250°F 15 minutes prior to preparing the corn.

3. After soaking the corn, pull back the husks and remove the corn silk, but do not detach the husks.

4. Spread half of the butter all over the corn.


5. Mix together the cinnamon, brown sugar, chili powder, and nutmeg. Sprinkle the corn with half of the spice mixture, then close the husks completely around the corn.


6. Smoke the corn at 250°F for two hours.


7. Smother with the rest of the butter, then sprinkle with the remaining seasonings and all of the salt. Serve hot.








Tip Tuesday: 3 Ways to Create the Best "Bind" in Sausage Making


You've had them before - dry, crumbly sausages. Sausages that fall apart. Mealy sausages. Sausages that are just plain weird and you can't put your finger on why you can't eat even one. more. bite. of one.

All can be accounted for by the lack of a proper bind. 

"Binding" sausage so that the meat holds together is essential. And yet it's often a mystery to home sausage makers. We find that even people we know who have been making their own sausage for years are bewildered by the bind. These are the three things we tell people when they ask us how to improve the funky texture of their homemade sausage:


1. Start with the Third/Third/Third Grind
(courtesy Brad Lockwood)
Grind your pork, beef, antelope - what have you - so that you end up with 1/3rd coarsely ground meat, 1/3rd medium grind, and 1/3rd fine grind. To achieve this, grind all of it through a coarse plate (10-12mm). Divide that in half. Set one half aside. Grind the other half through a medium plate (6-8mm). Take that medium grind, divide it in half. Set half of the medium grind aside. Grind the other half through a fine plate (3mm-5mm). Mix them all together. You'll find that the meat binds more tightly together.


2. Use a Meat Mixer 
(courtesy Hank Shaw)
Sure, a meat mixer is a must if you're combining large batches of meat and seasonings. It's also handy because you need to keep the meat as cold as possible in sausage making, and hand mixing means warm hands bringing up the temp. But, it's also a must-have for the bind. The paddles of the mixer break the proteins, creating a natural protein "glue." 


3. Add Non-Fat Milk Powder
(Brad, again)
The two tips above should take care of most binds, however: sometimes you need to really ensure that bind happens, and happens tightly. No one likes crumbly summer sausage -  that's just wrong. Brad's rule of thumb is 2lbs/100lb batch. Scale accordingly. This means a 5lb batch would get about 1/3 cup of milk powder. The proteins in that milk powder are especially sticky, and as you cook the sausage, the meat will get more closely and closely glued together - you'll see. Soy (soy protein, soy flour, soy concentrate) is a common additive used to produce the same effect. 

Venison Gyros with a Weston Meat Grinder


- Ingredients -

Venison Gyro Meat
2 lbs venison, cubed
one quarter large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano

For after the grind
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup greek yogurt
1 cucumber
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Sweet Potato Fries
3 sweet potatoes
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups peanut oil

pitas
tomatoes
white onions
feta cheese


- Tools -
Weston Meat Grinder
loaf pan
Weston V-Slice Mandoline Slicer
Weston French Fry Cutter


Prepare Gyro Meat

1. Keep all metal parts of the Meat Grinder in the freezer until you're ready to grind.

2. Grind the venison through the coarse plate of the Meat Grinder into a bowl over ice.


3. Mix the ground venison with the rest of the gyro ingredients. Grind through the medium plate.


4. Grind the mixture through the fine plate.


5. Drain the ice water from the ice below the bowl into the ground meat. Sprinkle in the remaining parsley, pepper, oregano, and rosemary. Mix well.

6. Spread the meat in a greased loaf pan, pressing down tightly, and spread to the edges.


7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165.


8. Let cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Tzatziki Sauce

1. Grate cucumber with the Mandoline Slicer.


2. Mix together all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate.



Sweet Potato Fries

1. Wrap the sweet potatoes in damp towels and microwave them for 3 minutes.

2. Use the French Fry Cutter to cut the sweet potato fries.


3. Heat the peanut oil to 375 degrees.

4. Fry the sweet potatoes for 5-10 minutes, until they float.

5. Strain into a bowl covered with a paper towel.

Prepare Garnish

Use the Mandoline to thinly slice the white onion and slice the tomatoes.



Serve Gyros

1. Slice the gyro meat from the loaf with a serrated knife.

2. Fry in olive oil in a skillet for a minute on each side (until browned).

3. Serve the gyro meat on pita with a handful of sweet potato fries, heavy dollops of tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onions.




Tequila Pickled Peppers in a Weston Vacuum Canister


As much as I love pickled jalapeños, I couldn't help but try to spice up this year's yield. A little tequila and a couple dashes of cumin, paprika, and chili powder take pickled peppers to the next level!

Makes 1.5 quarts

- Ingredients -

6 large jalapeños
3 small sweet peppers, in a variety of colors
¼ red onion
4 radishes
½ quart white vinegar
½ quart water
1 oz gold tequila
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder

- Tools -
Weston Mandoline Slicer
Weston Vacuum Sealer + 1.5 qt Canister


1. Use your Mandoline to slice the peppers, onion, and radishes evenly and thinly (about 1/8th of an inch thick).



2. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, garlic, and seasonings to a boil, then simmer for five minutes.

3. Place the pepper, onion, and radish slices into your Vacuum Sealer Canister, then pour the hot liquid over them. Allow to cool.

4. Once cooled, pour in the tequila.

5. Attach the Canister to the Vacuum Sealer and seal the Canister.


6. Allow the peppers to pickle for a week, then enjoy.



You can transfer your pickled peppers into a mason jar (properly sanitized, use a Canning Kit) and seal it using a pressure canner or water bath for longer storage.