or, How to Deal With Pests That Are Too Big for Their Own Good.

So, Grannie’s had this venison sitting in her freezer for forever and a day, and hadn’t done anything with it. When Hurricane Irene came knocking in August, Grannie packed up a couple of days in advance and brought herself up here for a couple of weeks while she waited for power to be restored at Ayrfield. Part of what she brought was the complete contents of her fridge and freezer, including a number of packages of the most organic venison you can find.

Naturally, when she left, she left the venison here. We’d made arrangements to hand some off to friends, but there were still a couple of packages of ground venison left (nominally ‘hot venison sausage’) that had been pretty badly freezer-burnt. I hate to let a good, dead white-tail go to waste, so I plotted.

After a bit of plotting, I stumbled across Mommy’s recipe for sausage soup, and said to myself, “Self, that’s probably the best way to deal with freezer-burnt meat. So, get cooking!” Of course, I then promptly ended up losing my life to the office for a while, but today, I finally got around to using the meat.

I’d previously defrosted it, and then browned it over the weekend so it would be ready for today. I also acquired a hefty load of things-what-food-eats at the nearby Purveyor of Such Things, and thus was prepared to render the remains of this dead, over-sized pest into edible food.

First, I dumped some extra-virgin olive oil into a six-quart pot, and promptly followed it with a finely-diced large yellow onion and about a teaspoon of minced garlic (because I misplaced my fresh garlic again). I let that sit to sauté for a bit while I washed and finely diced the potatoes. After I’d diced three of the six potatoes I had out, I up-cocked the bag of browned venison into the pot with the onions, mixed it all up, and resumed dicing potatoes.

By the time I got three potatoes into the pot, along with one large (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes and two quarts of chicken stock, I realized, “Well, crap. Looks like I should have used the bigger pot,” whereupon I retrieved the twelve-quart stock pot from the cabinet and swapped it in for the six-quart. I shan’t make that mistake again…

I added another quart and a half of chicken stock, the other three potatoes, and two handfuls of baby carrots to the pot, gave everything a nice healthy stir, and left it on medium heat with the lid on. Then I went outside to observe asteroid YU55; I’m not entirely sure, but I think I saw it. Either way, after about 20 minutes outside or so, we came back in and I gave the pot another stir. By this time, the soup was bubbling merrily away, looking and smelling good enough to eat right then, but it wasn’t quite done.

I pulled out a large bundle of green chard and separated it roughly in half; the other half went back in the fridge. I chopped the leaves off the stems, and rendered them width-wise into strips about an inch and a half wide; this seemed to be a good size to work with. In my opinion, the chard is what makes this edible. Without it, the soup very much resembles pot roast that fragmented. With the chard, it has a bit extra zing, and definite green flavors which are good for you.

After the soup had been boiling for about 45 minutes, I turned the heat down and dumped in the chard. I let it cook over low flame for about five minutes, then added a healthy grinding of fresh salt and pepper, and let it cook another five minutes or so before proclaiming it done.

It turned out reasonably well; it’s not spectacular, but what do you expect for severely freezer-burnt meat?

As always, pix or it didn’t happen:

Soup in a bowl!

Soup in a pot!

 

For those of you who want a recipe, here’s something I cobbled together from the above:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lb ground venison
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1-ish tsp minced garlic
  • 6 medium potatoes, finely diced
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 3.5 qt chicken stock
  • 3-ish c red or green chard, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour some olive oil in a rather large pot.
  2. Add the onion (finely diced) and the minced garlic, then sauté over a medium-high flame.
  3. Add the ground venison, and sauté the meat with the onion and garlic until the meat is slightly browned.
  4. When the meat is browned, add the potatoes (finely diced), tomatoes, carrots and chicken stock to the pot, then cover. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped chard the pot. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste, then simmer for another 5 minutes.

Makes ~8 quarts of soup.

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