This year has been a little slow transitioning into winter, but it should be here by the time this arrives. Because it’s winter and hearty, full-bodied foods help us stay warm, I’m going to change gears a little from the healthy side of things to a dish with thick gravy. I can’t remember ever meeting anyone that didn’t care for gravy and this one will help warm you up on a cold day. The main ingredient is venison, so the low fat content there cancels out the gravy, right?
February is a tapering down month in the Carolinas. Deer season has ended and that takes a lot of hunters out of the woods. However, several small game seasons are open and feet and hands get just as cold following rabbit and bird dogs as they do staying still in a stand or trailing a deer. They may get even colder if you are one to take advantage of the extended snow goose season. This recipe is tasty and warms frosty fingers and toes well.
Venison Tidbits and Gravy
Things were tight growing up and wasting food or potential food was not looked upon kindly. I learned at a young age to keep my knives sharp and to run them along bones and skin as close as possible. Still, sometimes pieces of meat pulled off and stuck to the skin or stayed attached to a joint or bone. These pieces of meat have all the flavor of the larger cuts they pulled loose from and sometimes those pieces along the bone are even sweeter. The amount adds up if you’re diligent about collecting them.
Several times, I have gathered two to three pounds of these little pieces and that’s a surprising amount. Used wisely this could become several meals. The first thing I did with these pieces was to add them to the boned meat to be ground into burger and sausage. That was a simple use for them. Next, I began putting them into half-pound and one-pound bags to be used in stews and soups. This was an even better way to use them. This recipe is the third way to use them and may be the tastiest. By lightly browning them, adding onions, mushrooms and simmering them in gravy, they taste really good and can be spread out over more meals.
This could be made without the onions and mushrooms, but they add flavor and make the dish more filling. How about gravy? Who doesn’t like it? The gravy is adaptable too. You can use a little pepper to just help create more flavor, or you can get heavy-handed with the pepper and spice up the gravy.
1 Pound of venison pieces
2 Slices of bacon
1/2 Large sweet onion
1/2 Package fresh sliced mushrooms
1 Tsp granulated garlic
1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
1 Tsp beef bouillon
1/2 Tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/2 Tsp white pepper
A light sprinkle of smoked sea salt may be used (optional to taste),
- Chop the onion and mushrooms.
- Cook the bacon in a cast iron pan and remove it, leaving the drippings.
- Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic to the pan and sauté just enough to break the glaze, then remove and hold.
- Place the venison bits in a flat pan and sprinkle them with pepper, and salt if desired. Roll and do both sides.
- Put the flour in a shallow bowl and use it to lightly coat the venison bits.
- Pour the oil into the cast iron pan and heat to medium/medium high.
- Add the venison bits into the pan and brown them lightly.
- Add the vegetables back into the pan.
- Add water to the pan to barely cover the venison and vegetables. A little less water makes the gravy thicker and a little more water makes it thinner.
- Stir in the beef bouillon until it is totally dissolved.
- Sprinkle in 4 rounded teaspoons of the flour remaining in the bowl and stir to mix it in well.
- Heat this until it begins to bubble, stirring well and often.
- Crumble the bacon and stir it into the mixture.
- Reduce heat to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring well occasionally and taking care to turn everything to prevent sticking.
- Remove from heat and let it sit and thicken about 5 minutes before serving.
I prefer to serve this over brown rice. It is also tasty served over white rice and wild rice. It is a bit healthier served over wild rice with a minimum of gravy.
It also serves well over mashed potatoes, especially homemade mashed red potatoes. Steamed broccoli, steamed squash or mixed vegetables are all good sides. This has to have bread; hearty wheat or multigrain rolls are just right.
This might be a good meal to skip dessert, but if you feel the need to satisfy a sweet tooth, try a slice of freshly baked pound cake. You’ll agree it’s the right choice. ■
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