Deer Herder’s Pie

Deer Herder’s Pie is comfort food, and is a complete meal in itself. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)

Venison can be prepared many ways. Some are better than others. This venison version of shepherd’s pie falls into the second group. The recipe calls for multiple ingredients, but it’s simple and just about everyone I’ve ever served with it liked it.

You can harvest the venison yourself or have a great friend share some with you. You can even mix in feral pork.

One of the factors that endears hunters to game is harvesting it themselves. We have no worries about where it came from or how it was handled. You have the memory of the hunt and taking the shot. Then you field dress the deer and process it. This is the original field-to-table process.

This is a tasty, complete meal that is easy to prepare, and it’s filling. Even some that don’t normally care for venison have enjoyed it. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it also.

Deer herder’s pie

To get the name “Deer Herder’s Pie” this is made with ground venison. I like to mix it up occasionally and use ground feral pork for half of the meat. Unless fat is added, feral ground pork is also very lean, sometimes as lean as venison. This can be plain ground pork or some with sausage seasonings added. The sausage seasoning will change the taste of the finished pie a little. But I have always enjoyed these differences.

Add a little more of flavors you like and lessen ones you don’t care for. But let me warn you to be careful when adding the liquid smoke. A little goes a long way. You don’t need much. The idea isn’t for this to taste like it just left a smokehouse, but to have a hint of smokehouse flavor.

Stirring the flour in is an important part of this. No drippings are in the pan to make a roux, but it adds flavor. Pay attention, stir evenly and a lot. Be sure to spread it throughout and don’t allow the mixture to get too hot and scorch the flour.

The topping can be made with white potatoes and many people use them. I like the natural creaminess and buttery flavor of Yukon Gold potatoes, so I use them. If you can’t find them and make this with white potatoes, add another tablespoon of butter when mashing them.

This simple meal has many qualities of a stew or soup, but without all the liquid. It is a good choice for a warm meal after a November hunt or fishing trip. Give it a try – I’m sure you’ll like it. Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS:

2-pounds ground venison (or 1 pound venison and 1 pound feral pork)

1 Cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 Cup chopped red onion

1 TBL minced garlic

11/2 Cups frozen peas and carrots

2 yellow squash

1 Cup frozen corn kernels

1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 Cup beef broth

3 TBL flour

2 TBL ground Italian seasoning

2 TBL tomato paste

2 TSP liquid smoke

1/2 TBL Worcestershire sauce

1/2 TSP dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed Potato Topping:

4 Large Yukon Gold potatoes

2 ½ TBL butter

1/2 Cup Half and Half

1 TSP garlic powder

PREPARATION: Serves 8

Meat Filling:

  1. Chop the onions.
  2. In a large skillet, combine the ground venison, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, liquid smoke, salt and pepper and brown over medium to medium-high heat. Be sure to break up the venison as much as possible.
  3. If there is any grease, drain it.
  4. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the meat mixture and cook approximately 1 minute, stirring the flour in.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce and oregano.
  6. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  7. Stir in the frozen peas, carrots and corn.
  8. Cook another 5 minutes or so until the mixture is heated throughout.

Mashed Potato Topping:

  1. Peel the potatoes and dice them into roughly thumb size pieces.
  2. Put the potatoes into a large pot of water with a dash of salt and bring it to a boil.
  3. Cook the potatoes until they are tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the water from the pot and mash the potatoes.
  5. Add the butter, Half and Half, and garlic powder and continue to mash the potatoes until they are smooth. You can use a mixer at this point to finish the blending and smooth the mashed potatoes.

COMBINED:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Use buttery flavored cooking spray to grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  3. Pour the meat mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
  4. Spread the potato topping evenly over the meat mixture.
  5. Bake this for approximately 20-25 minutes. The mixture should be hot and bubbly.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheese evenly across the potato topping.
  7. Cook approximately 5-10 more minutes until the cheese has melted. Pay attention and don’t scorch the cheese.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the deer herder’s pie to season for 10 minutes before serving.

This may not leave room for dessert, but hot apple, peach or cherry cobbler will be nice for later.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1149 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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