January, 2012 Newsletter — The Big Game Issue

After braising in beer, whitetail short ribs are crisped-up on the grill

We’re excited about our menu for this year’s Super Bowl. It all started with an idea, “Big Game Tacos” for the big game. The plan came together nicely from there. A little online research led to a game farm in Colorado called Grande Premium Meats, and the recipe creation began.

As is our tradition, this menu features finger food, making it easier to gather around the big screen.

Cheers,

Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

 


Bison Chorizo Poppers

Is it still a popper if the jalapeño is sliced in half? Maybe not, but it sure makes them a lot easier to prepare − and to eat. The distinctive flavor of the chorizo and the heat of the chile are mellowed by the melted queso.

Instructions

Preheat a grill for indirect cooking with a hood temperature reading of 500ºF.

Remove and discard the casings from the chorizo. Break apart and cook in a skillet over medium heat until done.

Mix together the chorizo, onions, Chihuahua cheese and egg in a bowl. Fill the jalapeño halves with the mixture. (I suggest wearing gloves when working with the jalapeño — cradling the chile in one hand and filling it one spoonful at a time with the opposite hand.)

Arrange the assembled poppers cut-side up, in a single layer on a grill-safe baking sheet, and sprinkle the Cotija over the top. Roast in the indirect zone of the grill with the hood closed until the cheese is melted and nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on top as desired.

Ingredients

  • 3 uncooked bison chorizo sausage links (this recipe also works well with pork chorizo)
  • 3 green onions, thinly-sliced, white and light green parts only
  • 6 ounces Chihuahua cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 12 to 16 jalapeño chiles, cut lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Cotija cheese
  • Lime wedges

Heavy aluminized steel sheet pan or other grill-safe pan


Elk Skirt Steak Tacos with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

Elk skirt steak is my new favorite meat (for right now anyway). The cuts are very thin, quite lean, and grill almost instantly. The rich and moderately-gamey flavor is a perfect base for the acidic character of the tomatillo sauce and the kick of Serrano chiles. These big game tacos are a perfect tailgating or Super Bowl-watching food.

Instructions

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. The sauce can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated in an air-tight container until serving time. The avocado in the sauce will not turn brown because of the acidity of the tomatillos and lime.

Prepare the grill for direct grilling with two temperature zones: one hot and one blazingly hot. A charcoal fire is preferred.

Brush the onion slices with olive oil and season with salt.

Squeeze the limes over the skirt steaks. Brush with olive oil and season with salt.

Grill the onion slices in the cooler part of the grill for a few minutes until they are nicely marked by the fire and softened.

Grill the elk skirt steaks over the hottest part of the fire. You may wish to grill them 2 or 3 at a time so that you can keep up. Grill the meat to medium-well, about 1 minute per side.

Remove the elk and onions from the grill. While the meat rests, coarsely chop the onions. After the meat has rested for a couple of minutes, cut each skirt into sections about 3 inches long, then very thinly slice the meat across the grain.

To assemble each taco, lay a little sauce into the tortilla. Add the elk meat and some grilled red onion. Top with queso fresco and fresh cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

Note: you can skewer a few tacos together to keep them from opening up or falling apart.

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 4 tomatillos, shucked, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 avocado, skinned, pitted and quartered
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 or 2 (depending on desired heat) Serrano chiles, stemmed (you can seed them as well if you wish to further reduce the heat)
  • Freshly-squeezed juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the tacos:

  • 4 red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 elk skirt steaks (or beef skirt steak, but cook it to medium rather than medium-well)
  • 3 fresh limes
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • About 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • Fresh cilantro

Whitetail Short Rib Sopes with Roasted Squash and Poblano Cream

Words fail me. This dish is rich, earthy and difficult to describe. The beer-braised whitetail short ribs are succulent and decadent. The roasted butternut squash is sweet and hearty, and the poblano cream sauce provides the perfect complement of smokiness with a touch of heat. Served together in small Mexican masa bowls called sopes, they make a mouth happy.

Instructions

To prepare the sauce, roast the poblanos over the open flame of a cooktop burner or on a grill over high heat for several minutes, until blistered and blackened all round. Place them in a bowl and cover with a plate to steam in their own heat.

While the poblanos are steaming, add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and onion. Cook until softened and brown around the edges. Reserve.

Scrape the charred skins off the poblanos. Remove the stems and seeds.

Combine the poblanos, garlic and onion mixture, tomatillos and milk in a blender. Process until smooth.

Melt the butter in the skillet and whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly until lightly browned. Pour the contents of the blender into the skillet and add the crema.

Whisk slowly until bubbling. Remove from heat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Reheat before serving.

To prepare the sopes, set up the grill for indirect cooking at 300ºF.

Season the ribs with the dried Pasilla chile and salt (reserve any leftover chile). Place the Dutch oven on a cooktop over medium-high heat to preheat. Add the canola oil and wait for it to shimmer. Brown the short rib pieces on as many sides as possible, working in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. Stand all the pieces on edge and pour in the beer until it comes halfway up the pieces. Throw in any remaining chile. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the indirect zone of the grill. Cook with the hood closed for 3 hours.

Once the short ribs have begun braising, cut the butternut squash into small pieces, discarding the seeds and the shell. Toss the squash in olive oil to coat. Spread into a single layer on a heavy, grill-safe baking sheet and season generously with salt. Place the baking sheet in the indirect zone of the grill for the final 2 hours of braising time. Roast until the squash is browned at the edges and soft. You may wish to turn the pieces over and move them around a couple of times during the 2 hours, but keep the hood closed as much as possible.

At this point, you can put everything on hold until the next day. If desired, refrigerate the short ribs in the covered Dutch oven. Let the squash cool before transferring to an air-tight container and refrigerating.

When it is time to continue, gently warm the squash and reheat the sauce.

Heat the sopes according to the package instructions.

Remove the short ribs from the Dutch oven and grill directly over a hot fire to crisp up the outside (and to reheat, if applicable).

Remove the bones from the short ribs and tear the meat into small pieces. Top each sope with whitetail and roasted squash. Spoon on some poblano cream sauce and sprinkle with queso fresco.  Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the Poblano Cream Sauce

  • 3 poblano chiles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatillos, shucked, stemmed and quartered
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Mexican crema

For the sopes

  • About 2 1/2 pounds whitetail short ribs (12 ribs) cut into pairs of ribs (or beef short ribs, but cook them 30 minutes longer)
  • 1 dried Pasilla chile, ground in a food processor or coffee grinder
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 to 2 bottles of Mexican beer (I used Victoria)
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 prepared sopes
  • About 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Cast iron Dutch oven

Heavy aluminized steel sheet pan or other grill-safe pan