December 2016
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

December Means Holidays, Hunting, Family & Friends

Ground deer meat is a great option for hunting camp meals for the whole crowd.

It is hard to believe that just a month ago Jason and I were walking down a neighborhood street trick-or-treating with Rolley Len and Cason in near-80-degree weather. As the sun went down, the temperature dropped some, but not nearly enough to make it feel like winter was almost here. Even when it is hot, the end of October means it is time to prepare the hunting camps again for the winter.

Rolley Len says December is the crazy-busy time of year because of the holidays, hunting and visiting family. There isn’t much idle time for making plans or preparations once holiday season hits. To make the most of it, everything at the camp should be cleared out and cleaned up for the holiday season ahead. As soon as the weather is cold enough for the snakes to start hiding out instead of hanging out, Rolley Len and Cason will want to go as often as possible, so it has to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Of course, they will also have their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends come, too, which means plenty of fun and a lot of food. It can be challenging to come up with meals that will satisfy the variety of tastes and diets of small children and adults. But then Cason says his favorite camp foods are burgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, pork, deer and catfish. Clearly there are unlimited options for feeding a small or oversized bunch of folks, but to me ground deer meat is one of the most versatile choices.

Whether we are getting ready for camping or just planning for the school week, I want to watch our budget when buying groceries. I definitely don’t want to buy a lot of food that will not get eaten. The food on our grocery list needs to be items that can mix and match easily with the others so there is little waste and nothing remaining to take back home for leftovers.

When we hit the camp this month, there will be plenty of burgers and hot dogs, but that can get old, especially for the grownups. Besides wanting a range of menu items, we also look for recipes that incorporate vegetables. Here are three ground deer meat recipes with overlapping ingredients including vegetables. Each tastes quite different from the other and would be really delicious additions to your next camp meal.

 

CHEESEBURGER SALAD

 

Cheeseburger Salad

2 hamburger buns, split and cut into ¾-inch strips
1 pound ground deer meat
1 small red onion, chopped, divided
1 cup ketchup
½ cup dill relish (finely chopped), if desired
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
8 cups lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
Crisp bacon, crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425°. On a baking sheet, arrange bread strips in a single layer. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the strips are lightly toasted. Set the strips aside. Croutons can be flavored with garlic or other spices.

In a skillet over medium heat, place ground deer meat. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until meat is well browned. Into meat mixture, stir in ½ of onion, ketchup, relish and mustard, mix well.

On a large serving platter or in individual bowls, place lettuce. Spoon meat mixture over lettuce. Top with remaining onion, tomatoes, bacon and cheese. Hamburger bun croutons can be placed on top or in separate bowl. 

May be served without salad dressing, but this is good with Catalina, a bacon-flavored vinaigrette or Ranch.

 

GOULASH

1 (16-ounce) box elbow macaroni
2 pounds ground deer meat
1 Tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
1 (14-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese

In a saucepan, boil elbow macaroni over high heat. Cook just until soft. Do not overcook because noodles will cook more after being mixed with other ingredients. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, brown ground meat with the Monterrey Steak Seasoning, and drain. Add all remaining ingredients except the cheese. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil again then move to low heat. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Remove from heat, top with cheese and re-cover for 5 minutes to melt cheese and let mixture thicken.

 

CHEESEBURGER SOUP

½ pound ground deer meat
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
¾ cup onion, chopped
¾ cup carrots, shredded
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1¾ pounds (about 4 cups) potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken broth
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 (16-ounce) package Velveeta cheese, cubed
1½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon salt
¼-½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup sour cream, if desired

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown ground meat until no longer pink. Drain and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Sauté onion, carrots, basil and parsley until tender, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes, meat and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.

In a small skillet, while potatoes cook, melt remaining butter. Add flour, cook and stir until bubbly, about 3-5 minutes. Add to soup in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook until the cheese melts. Remove from heat. Blend in sour cream.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.