Chilled Venison Taco Salad

This recipe uses many different ingredients that all taste good on their own, and even better all together. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

This has been one of the hottest summers on record and the first of the fall hunting seasons are beginning. Deer season on private lands in S.C. Game Zones 3 and 4 has already opened. 

Sportsmen in the Carolinas that think September is still too hot and humid to don camo and go hunting, have plenty of options to go fishing. Both fresh and saltwater fishing is going strong throughout the Carolinas and will for several more months. Fish are waiting to be caught from the streams and lakes of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coastal marshes and depths of the Gulf Stream.

Hopefully everyone had a successful deer season last year and have a few packages of venison remaining in the freezer. Give this recipe a try to get your season going and the odds are high you’ll put aside a few packages to prepare this same recipe to get next year’s deer season off on the right hoof.

Venison cut into tidbits, then marinated in a Dr. Pepper/hot sauce mix is the start of this great recipe. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound venison tidbits
  • 1 Bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 Cup multi-colored baby bell peppers
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 Cup red or black beans
  • 2/3 Cup frozen kernel corn
  • 1/2
    Large sweet onion
  • 1/2 Cup red onion
  • 1 1/2 Pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 Pkg shredded cheese
  • 1/2 Cup mayonnaisse
  • 1/4 Cup sour cream
  • 1 TSP minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Dr. Pepper
  • 1 TBL hot sauce
  • Crunchy taco shells
  • Assorted tortilla chips
  • Cooking oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray

PREPARATION:

1. Cut the venison tidbits into approximately 1/2-inch size pieces. Put them in a Ziploc bag and cover them with Dr. Pepper and 1 tablespoon hot sauce. Squeeze the air out, mix the marinade through them thoroughly and marinate them for 30 minutes to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

2. Chop the onions, baby bell peppers and jalapeno(s).

3. Spray a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and lightly brown the venison pieces. (They will make a lot of liquid cooking the Dr. Pepper out and you may need to drain it a couple of times.)

4. Once the venison pieces are lightly browned, add the taco seasoning and simmer according to the directions on the taco seasoning package.

5. Remove the venison pieces and most of the liquid. Leave some liquid to add flavor to the vegetables.

6. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil to the pan and lightly sauté the onions, bell peppers, jalapeno pepper(s) and corn.

7. Add the garlic to the onions, peppers and corn after they have sauteed a few minutes. Stir it in well.

8. Use a large bowl to mix the coleslaw mix, sauteed vegetables, beans and venison pieces.

9. In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and lime juice.

10. Add the mayo/sour cream mixture to the veggies and venison and sprinkle liberally with taco seasoning, then mix well, but gently. After mixing this, taste the mixture and add more taco seasoning (to taste) and mix some more.

11. This can be eaten immediately, but is best after chilling in the refrigerator.

12. Serve with tortilla chips or as nachos and/or in crunchy taco shells.

13. Sprinkle with cheese to taste. 

This contains all that is necessary for a complete meal. Still, I like salads and sometimes add a small green salad. Those who like a little something sweet to end the meal should find shortcake or angel food cake, with fresh-cut strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, works nicely.

Making tacos from this recipe is a good bet, but some folks like it just as much served with tortilla chips. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

This recipe isn’t difficult and eating it is fun. Everyone likes tacos and this has the feel of a street taco with a crunchy shell. The chilled ingredients are refreshing too, especially after a hot day.   

To me, this is best with a crunchy taco shell or served like nachos with tortilla chips. However, if the crunchy taco shell cracking bothers you, use the crunchy shell and wrap it in a soft shell or flour tortilla. This allows you to have the crunch and the soft shell holds the taco together.

If you don’t have a package of stew meat to make these, you can cut pieces from a steak or roast or use burger. It will take more time, but it will taste better with pieces of meat than with burger.

Too many red onions can get strong. So I mix them with regular sweet onions. Baby bell peppers are more tender and sweeter than larger ones and I like the different colors for a bit more visual appeal. I sprinkle a little taco seasoning on the sautéing vegetables to make their flavor bolder.

This mixture tastes better than the sum of its parts — and all of its parts taste good. Leave out or substitute any ingredients you don’t like. Feel free to add more — just do it in small increments so it doesn’t become overpowering. One night when you can’t think of what to do for dinner, give this a try. Everyone I’ve prepared it for has commented positively and I’m pretty sure you will too. Enjoy!

About Jerry Dilsaver 1148 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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