By Mark Kenyon
A friend recently emailed me with a simple question. “Why do you keep killing all these deer?” A simple question, and a simple answer. “Because they taste so good!”
I hunt deer for many reasons, but the natural sustenance and incredible mouth-watering flavors they bring to my life certainly are a big part of it.
While I’ve always loved eating venison, over the past couple years my wife and I have really elevated our venison game – searching out new and creative recipes for the many deer that fill our freezer. And today, I’m sharing one of my favorite new discoveries. Cranberry Chipotle Pulled Venison Tacos!
After only trying this once, these venison tacos have skyrocketed to the top of my all-time favorite venison recipes, and I’m certain they’ll be made in the Kenyon household for many years to come. I think the cranberry chipotle pulled venison tacos work so well because of the contrasting flavors that perfectly weave together within each bite. Venison and berries are an age-old pairing, and for good reason. The rich, deep flavors of venison intertwine with the sweet juices of berries gorgeously. But on top of that you add the heat of chipotles and jalapenos, along with a zest of lime and cilantro and the result is a festival of earthy, yet warm flavors. It’s truly wonderful.
To go along with our tacos, my wife recommends a side of “Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice” – a tasty, light and flavorful south-of-the-border inspired companion to your venison tacos. We’ve included both recipes below. Enjoy!
Cranberry Chipotle Pulled Venison Tacos – Ingredients
1-2 lb venison roast
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 16 ounce can whole cranberry sauce
2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if not available, substitute 1 tbsp ketchup, 1/2 tsp liquid smoke, and one finely chopped jalapeno)
fresh cilantro (optional)
jalapeno peppers (optional)
pico de gallo or salsa (optional)
lime wedges (optional)
1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3 1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker/crock pot. Place onion wedges in the cooker. Add meat; sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and black pepper.
2. In a small bowl combine cranberry sauce and chipotle peppers in adobo (or the jalapeno mixture substitution). Pour over meat.
3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.
4. When finished cooking, use forks/knife to pull apart/shred the roast into “pulled venison”.
5. Serve the pulled venison on tortillas garnished with jalapenos, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, a quick squirt of lime, and any other fixings that sound good to you!
Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice – Ingredients
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups long-grain rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 3 limes and zest of 2 limes
chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Reduce the heat to low and add the rice and salt. Cook over a low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure the rice doesn’t burn.
3. Add 2 cups of the broth and the juice and zest of 2 limes and bring it to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is done. Add more liquid as needed. The rice shouldn’t be sticky.
5. Just before serving, stir through the juice of 1 lime and lots of chopped cilantro.
(Credit to Better Homes & Gardens and Pioneer Woman for the original recipes we used/customized to come up with these final recipes.)