Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sharing the Wealth of Hunted Meat.

 Since moving to Monticello, in 2009, I have to say that some of the kindest folks we have encountered, were local hunters.  Each year, after deer and elk seasons were done; after meat was butchered and processed, the sharing came.  Whether it was to a place of employment, or a packed plastic grocery bag left at the front door; processed packages of deer and elk meat were given freely to our family.  No compensation asked for, just a simple “thank you” made the giver happy.  Of course, my baked goods always made a showing, at the hunter’s home, eventually.

Unfortunately, the hunters we knew have moved, or passed, on; we have not seen any of this sharing of the hunted wealth for two years now.  While we miss the kindness of the giving act, and the meat, we also understand that the last two years have been challenging to so many.  Especially 2020, when each month is a new scenario of ill health, financial woes, and violence under the guise of “social reform”.  Yes, there are many examples of sharing and caring, but privately, the wagons have been circling for the “just in case” scenario.

Personally, each year I purchase a desk calendar to record appointments, attach greeting cards, mementoes, ticket stubs to enjoyable events, etc.  At the end of each year, I pack it away in a box where the other years reside.  I want my memories.  However, I have not purchased one for 2020; I just did not get around to it, and then Covid-19 hit.  No events to attend, appointments cancelled, heck, not even the occasional greeting card in the mail.  Last week we went to the Walmart in Cortez, CO as I needed printer ink and paper, and could not wait for a delivery.  Then I saw it, a 2020 desk calendar; a bluish-purple color, just my style, and I kept walking.  No way, no how, was I purchasing that item; there was no intention, of tempting fate, happening that day!

How strange that the idea, of purchasing a desk calendar, could bring on an unnatural feeling of dread.  Let me tell you that going to Sonic, to gorge on burgers and (the most awesome) onion rings, made it all feel so much better.

Anyway, to all the hunters out there that are successfully making a kill, to feed their families, we salute you.  We salute the dedication of your sitting in camouflage, in an uncomfortable blind, for hours; possibly covered in the pee of your prey. 

…and here is a recipe to make that deer or elk meat taste that much deserved.  Hint, sprinkle some red wine vinegar on the venison, cover in plastic and leave overnight.  Kills that gamey smell and taste, unless you like it though, then ignore this hint.

Opening up the paper wrapped package, removing the meat from a plastic bag, I am still amazed at how beautiful elk meat is; so lean, red and looking like something only a rich person could afford to indulge in.  Slicing into thin strips, the meat (use two pounds for this recipe) is mixed with two tablespoons of light soy sauce (to bring out more of the rich elk flavor), plus a half teaspoon each of fine sea salt and ground black pepper; also one teaspoon of garlic powder.   Place the bowl, covered in plastic wrap, into the refrigerator for a half hour to settle.  During that half hour, prep a large green bell pepper by seeding, and slicing, it into 1/4 inch strips; also two large onions cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Green bell peppers are very flavorful, so use only one large; otherwise use two red, yellow or orange which are milder, for more peppers in this dish.

Over medium-high heat, large skillet, heat up two tablespoons of canola oil, add in the peppers and onions. Give them an occasional toss, but do not add the elk, into the skillet, until they just began to soften.  Spread the meat on top to allow the peppers and onions to start browning on their edges. Then begin mixing all three together, making sure to turn the strips of meat as they too browned. This all takes about 20 minutes to accomplish, then comes the cheese - 16 slices of American cheese plus 8 slices of Provolone. That’s correct, 12 slices of cheese for each pound of meat.

Once the cheeses are completely melted and mixed in with the other ingredients, remove the skillet from the heat source and let it rest for 5 minutes.  The cheese will thicken around the meat and vegetables, and be ready to serve up in sub rolls. 

You have just created, Elk, or Venison, Philly Cheesesteaks!  Spectacular! The meat is so tender; all the ingredients marry together well, so that no one item is overwhelmed in taste.  Whether you already have meat in the freezer, or anticipating the next season of hunting, this is a dish worth waiting to try out.

Bonus with any leftovers; get out the pasta pot, fill it half way with water, set on high heat to bring to a rolling boil.   Take out the leftovers, place in a large skillet and set that onto low heat. Once the water is ready, add 3 cups of dry penne pasta to cook, plus a sprinkling of salt; the leftovers are heating up nicely and the cheese is melting.   Add to the skillet a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained); this will help the cheese to become a thinner sauce. Drain the cooked pasta, add to the skillet and toss to coat it all.   Let it remain on the low heat for an additional five minutes.

All in all, it will take about 30 minutes to complete this extremely easy and delicious meal from simple leftovers and the addition of two ingredients; diced tomatoes and cooked pasta. Sorry Hamburger Helper, but you have got nothing on my elk.  Wow, could I go so far as to say I have invented "Elk Helper"?

Mary Cokenour