We look back with pride on our freezer, which is filled with wild duck, quail, pheasant, deer, and wild hog. Our doves never make it to the freezer, since we find no trouble enjoying them as soon as the hunt is over! If we were as good at fishing as we are with hunting, we would have some fish in our freezer as well, since we are lucky enough to live right on Murrells Inlet. But that is another story in itself. We have been blessed with a very good harvest and love knowing we have been generous sharing game meat with friends and family.
A typical week at our home consists of several meals prepared from our hunts. There are so many ways to use the cuts of meat we have, so I have chosen a couple of our favorite recipes. Shanks are my favorite to work with when preparing venison. Bone-in cuts are the most flavorful, and I always love using my crockpot when preparing wild game because it gives me an opportunity to slow cook the meat, which helps with tenderizing it so that it falls off the bone. The extra bonus is that I use the bones the next day to make bone broth, which we consume as a drink and as a meal. I’ve attached a link to basic bone broth in case you would like to explore this amazing and worthy trend. https://wellnessmama.com/5888/bone-broth/
4 whole deer shanks
Olive oil for rub
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Fresh rosemary sprig
1-teaspoon garlic powder
2/3-cup stock of your choice
4 oz. canned mushrooms or fresh mushrooms
One carton (12 oz.) Pacific Organic cream of mushroom soup
I start with seasoning my shanks with sea salt and crushed peppercorns and then rub the shanks with olive oil. In a large skillet, I put 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (it is much better than other oils to use when cooking at high temperatures) and two tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Next, I brown the shanks on all sides. This quick sear makes the shanks very tasty. Butter is a key ingredient when working with venison.
I get a nice sear on all sides and place them in the crockpot on high. For moisture, I add whatever stock I have on hand, mushrooms, and a tab of butter on each shank. A sprig of rosemary, dried thyme, and garlic powder tops the shanks and you are ready to get this meal cooking! Once the crockpot is hot, I reduce the temperature to low and cook for six hours. I add the mushroom soup to the broth in the crockpot about an hour before I serve, stirring for a quick second to mix the condensed soup with the broth. By hour six, the broth has the consistency of smooth gravy, and the shanks should be tender to falling off the bones. If they are not falling off the bone, cook longer. Serve over creamy mashed potatoes, and drizzle the mushroom gravy over the shank and potatoes. Yum.
Pasties! (Pronounced PASStees, not “paste-tees”)
Another favorite game meat dinner I wanted to share is a recipe using wild hog and potatoes to create a savory dish called a pastie. What makes this dish even more special is that I incorporate a family recipe used by my mother when I was growing up. Living in Pennsylvania, we did not have wild hogs, so Mom used Italian sausage links to prepare this very favorite dish. She was a wonderful cook and made her own pastry dough, just as you would for making pies. However, I didn’t get the dough-making gene from her, so I use the prepared dough. There are so few ingredients in this dish, but you will be amazed at the flavor.
Wild hog is a wonderful way to stir things up in the kitchen. When we take a hog, we hire a local processor to package the meat, and sausage is always a winner. We order our sausage with mild seasonings, making it versatile for recipes, as well as with Italian-style seasonings. For this recipe, I am using the Italian spiced sausage.
Approximately 15 oz. of wild hog sausage, or 4 to 6 links of your favorite fresh Italian sausage (remove the casings)
Four sheets of Pillsbury ready-to-bake prepared dough—don’t buy store brands.
Two cups of diced baking potatoes (usually 2 or 3 good-size potatoes)
One cup finely chopped onion (1 large onion)
Sea salt and pepper
Beaten egg for wash
This recipe makes 4 pasties.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown the sausage and drain. Combine the browned sausage and potatoes and onions in a large bowl, and add salt and pepper.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place the dough sheet on the paper.
Fill half the disk with the filling. Pull the dough over the filling and gather by pressing the edges to create a pocket.
Give the top a nice egg wash to help brown it to a beautiful color.
Bake one hour
This is a hearty, stand-on-its-own dish, but you may wish to add a side of your favorite green vegetable or fresh salad! Enjoy!
As written for Waccamaw Outdoors Magazine, April Issue, 2018