Couldn’t put a “Weird Crap I Cook” title on this one. It came out too delicious.
Part of the load of venison we received was a few pounds of ground venison. I wanted to make some unorthodox tacos and involve some new flavors that I thought would bring out the flavor of the meat. I also felt like nearly burning out the motor on my Cuisinart mini-prep and driving Kristi insane with it’s high-pitched scream. First item prepared was a mushroom paste that I planned on smearing on the tortillas prior to loading them with meat and the other toppings. For flavor, the paste started with garlic and onions.
Once chopped, these went into a pan with some olive oil.
While those sauteed for a few minutes, I mini-prepped about a pound of white and brown mushrooms.
When they are ground up in a Cusinart, you recognize how little substance there is to mushrooms. A pound of them were reduced in size to a couple large spoonfuls that went into the pan with the onions, garlic, and a little marsala wine.
On the back burner, I sauteed a chopped onion in a little bit of olive oil. Once the onion had caramelized a little bit, I added a can of rinsed beans, chicken stock, red pepper and salt to simmer for a little bit. This was the start of the beans and rice that would be a side dish.
At this point the mushroom paste had cooked for a while and had a thicker consistency so it was removed and put into a bowl.
Out came a pound of the fresh ground venison meat.
I cooked the meat with a little butter in a pan with paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, red pepper, chili powder, and salt.
While the meat cooked, I started an aioli based on the delicious one Conor made a few weeks prior in Boston. A little mayo, olive oil, lime juice, the leaves from a bundle of cilantro, three garlic cloves, and black pepper.
Instead of garnishing with lettuce and tomato, which would be a little boring and not compliment the flavors well, the fresh garnish of choice was baby arugala. I don’t use arugala enough, but every time it shows up in a meal it is completely delicious. In Jamaica Plain, Kristi and my favorite meal to split is an arugala salad (dressed with lemon juice and cracked pepper) and a prosciutto pizza covered with arugala at Bela Luna.
Back to the tacos, here’s the toppings bar:
When the meat was almost fully cooked I added a splash of V-8 to give some tomato flavor to the meat since salsa wouldn’t compliment the other garnishes well.
While the meat finished cooking and absorbed the V-8, a package of pre-cooked wild rice went into the bean, onion, and chicken stock mixture to simmer for a few minutes.
Finally, a shot of the finished product.
The finished tacos, with all of the flavors from the garnishes blending together in each bite, were truly awesome. Ground venison is different from beef or turkey; not as greasy tasting as beef, not as rubbery as turkey. It has an almost grainy texture, in the best possible way, with all of the uniquely rich flavor of venison. A small smear of the mushroom paste on the tortilla gave the strong and earthy mushroom flavor I was looking for. The arugala and aioli added the finishing touches of complimentary flavors, acidity, and a little fresh crunchiness.
Also, when you cook beans and rice together like this, the final product is very creamy, starchy and rich. Almost like a mexican risotto.
And that was it. Well, not really, I had two more tacos after the one shown and Kristi had to turn up the TV to drown out the noises I was making as I ate round two.
Not sure what I’ll be making next week, might head to the Italian Market tomorrow to get something interesting to cook. Also, if you haven’t donated to my Movember mustache growing, please click here and support prostate cancer research. I’d appreciate it.