So, being from Texas (not to mention being married to a hunter, being the daughter of a hunter, and having a relation who owns a meat processing shop) there is never a shortage of venison in our house, whether it be white-tail or elk. Venison really is great because it is leaner than beef and has less fat and calories- check out this article if you want more info on venison. Personally, I think the white-tail is a little gamy, so sausage, jerky, and slim jims are my preferred method of preparation.. HOWEVER, I currently have a surplus (like 50 pounds… seriously… it is crazy) of venison chili and hamburger grind. What to do with all of this meat?? Winter is coming, so chili, obviously, and we do occasionally barter and trade with friends (I am expecting a nice package of wild duck soon).. but this week I tried something new.
Shepherd’s Pie is probably the epitome of comfort food for me: meat, potatoes, gravy. Perfect. In my effort to cook a little healthier (and work my way through our freezer of venison) I put a spin on classic Shepherd’s Pie and created what I am calling “Hunter’s Pie”. I have to say, the hubby ate all of his plus my leftovers, so I think it came out pretty darn good.
Here’s my recipe:
- 1 head of cauliflower (don’t let me lose you here- it is good, I promise)
- about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (did I win you back with the cheese?)
- about 1/2 cup milk
- About 1 pounds ground venison (or ground beef)
- about 2 tablespoons bacon fat
- about 1.5 cups beef stock
- about 2 tablespoons flour
- about half a bag of frozen peas and carrots
- salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and anything else you like to season with
So, start by chopping up your cauliflower into small pieces and boiling for about 6 minutes (until well done) in salted water.
While the cauliflower is cooking, season your venison with salt and brown in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once cooked, remove from the skillet and put the meat directly into your baking dish(es). Try leaving as much fat behind as possible for the gravy. If you are using venison you may need to add some bacon fat to your skillet.
Once the fat is melted, slowly add in about 1 tablespoon of flour to make a rue. You don’t want your rue to be too runny nor do you want it to be a ball of flour. Add more flour or fat here to get the right consistency. Stir your rue until it turns a nice terracotta color. Now, slowly add in your beef stock while stirring constantly.You don’t want a lumpy gravy! I like to use a whisk for making gravy, but you could also probably use a fork.. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme (or your preferred seasonings).
Add the peas and carrots into the baking dish, on top of the meat. Pour the gravy over top of the meat and veg.
When the cauliflower is done, remove to a large food processor or mixing bowl if you are going to use a stick blender. Add the milk and half of the Parmesan cheese and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the cauliflower puree over top of the meat and veg. Be sure to make a nice seal with the cauliflower and the edge of the baking dish to trap in all the flavor and juice. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes. If your cheese and cauliflower aren’t brown, you can finish it off under the broiler for a few minutes (just don’t burn it!). Voila!
Let me know how it turns out or if you try anything different!