Monday, April 7, 2014

Cactus Peach Venison Sliders AZ BBQ Festival

When the folks at the AZ Barbecue Festival asked me to do a cooking demo this last Saturday at their nationally attended event, I was a totally honored.  However, when they asked me to teach about cooking road-kill I almost panicked.  My thoughts immediately raced to images of maggot-riddled skunks and possums scraped off the road by a rusty old fork. I do believe I blurted out loud,  "I'm country but I ain't neeever cooked a varmint." Suddenly I caught a vision of myself with Ace dressed as  Jethro Clampitt sitting at my kitchen table with a gingham napkin tucked into his bib overalls ready to slam down some of my quality home cookin'...
Granted, I'd butter  my husband Ace's biscuits with my fabulous sauce any day of the week (does that sound wrong?), but I had no idea where to start on the main meat for a cooking demo based on road vittles... Then I remembered the poor deer that impaled itself on my brother-in-laws van last summer. Deer would work as road-kill right? Poor, poor, dear.
I didn't actually use the deer that died last summer. That would be wrong.  Sick and wrong.  Of course, with the right sauce can anyone even tell?  Just kidding. Seriously. I am.
This deer steak came from my bishop's freezer...believe it or not. I was super excited to get to mess around with something I didn't actually have to process. Thanks bishop. Actually I should thank his wife. She was the one who did all the actual packaging. She's so cute. Not like me in Daisy Dukes...that would also be wrong. Seriously. Sick and wrong. 

My Tips on Cooking Venison for BBQ:

  • Trim all the fat off, that's where all the "game" flavor is found.
  • Process the meat as soon as possible after the hunt. The longer it sits, the tougher it gets.
  • Use a doe instead of a buck, as the buck meat tends to be more difficult to tenderize. Remember that deer works for a living and the older trophy bucks may have the best antlers, but their legs and thighs are pretty over-worked. 
  • Marinate the meat in a flavorful solution and season well.
  • Use only venison you trust. Don't buy it from an old rusty van on the side of the may be my brother-in-law trying to make a fast buck. No buck deer pun intended either. Oh dear. 
  • Dry the meat well before cooking. This meat has a lot of juices (and by that I mean blood but that sounds sick so I'm not going to say blood I'm gonna say juice) The dryer you pat it, the better it will brown.
  • For tender bbq, cook slow and low (around 300 degrees in a tomato or vinegar based sauce for 5-7 hours). 
  • Yes you can also use a pressure cooker for the meat. I  actually prefer the use of a good pressure cooker. It only takes 20-30 minutes instead of 7 hours, and the flavor is incredible. I used This one.
  • Freezing the meat will add to the tenderness, since the ice crystals will actually break down the sinews and fibrous textures. 
My Cactus Peach Venison Sliders
3 lb lean, trimmed venison round roast, cubed (or beef)
1/2 cup peach puree
1/2 cup prickly pear cactus syrup
1 cups bbq sauce (I use my Great Grandma's Chile Sauce plus 2 tsp liquid smoke)
1 tsp salt
1T fresh ground ancho chile powder
2T fresh minced garlic
Chef Tess all purpose seasoning to taste (about 1T) It is here
Directions: Place cubed venison meat in a 4-5 quart pressure cooker (This one is my favorite) along with remaining ingredients and cook  on high for 30 minutes, natural release. If you want to use a slow cooker, you can do so as well, but it will take 5-7 hours on low. When meat is cooked tender, shred with a fork. Serve with any more

This slaw is off the charts darlings. Really.

Grilled Pineapple Citrus Slaw
1/2 medium pacilla pepper, sliced thin
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin
4 cups thin sliced cabbage or brussel sprouts. I used sprouts.
1 cup fine shred carrots
1 cup Big Daddy's Sweet-Hot Pineapple, chopped or regular pineapple
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (I use Lucero white pineapple)
1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup fine minced red onion
1T minced garlic
1 T orange zest
2tsp lime zest
zest of one lemon
1T fine ground ancho chile powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Lightly oil the thin sliced pepper and place on a hot bbq for about 3 minutes. Do not over-cook, you just want some smoke and grill marks. Mix with the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse 5-6 times until smooth.  Pour over the salad ingredients in the bowl. Serve.

I served the venison on these slider buns...

That recipe for the slider buns is here

 "Oh Pickles!" {Have I mentioned that I used to say that instead of using a cussing word?}
 I also couldn't go to a bbq festival without some real quality pickles.

I've mentioned this guy before on my Facebook page...but I'm sharing these today here as well. Big Daddy's. True story. The first time I met this guy he walked in with two jars of pickles and asked me to try them. I figured I only live once. What the heck. We cracked one open right there. I figured they could be like Aunt Bee's Kerosene Cucumbers (y'all remember that episode of Andy Griffith?). Or, they could be amazing.

I put one in my mouth and I actually said, "Da...{insert cuss here} that is ridiculous!"  I never cuss. Daggumit!  I had to hug this dude. He has completely nailed pickle perfection. 

At the actual Arizona Barbecue Festival event that I was so excited to be part of, everyone loved the Deer...oh dear. Class went off without a hitch. I didn't cut off a finger. The oven turned on. 
I was thrilled to see one of my dear friends from Valley Dish, Dave Bernstein, in the crowd. It is always nice to see a familiar face isn't it? Dave is a local foodie and serious rock-star. He shared this picture on facebook and I had to steal it to share with all of you guys!

photo courtesy of Dave Bernstein
Oh yeah! This is Dave...who ate my slaw...and he doesn't really like slaw...but he loved mine. Gushing with joy...wowowowow. I'm a nerd. BTW. Dave does an amazing job as a DJ. For more info on weddings you can find him here:

There is it darlings. I dare you to make some venison...or beef. Most of all, I dare you to have an amazing Monday night! I want to see all kinds of bbq foodie selfies on my facebook page from all of you!  xoxo!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

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