I had a couple of pounds of ground Hawaiian venison (from a deer killed in Hawaii, not venison with pineapples and maraschino cherries in it) in my freezer, and I’ve been looking for a way to use it.
I’ve been flipping through a bunch of Gordon Ramsay cookbooks, and I came across a pretty cool recipe in Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite, that I figured I could adapt for my ground venison. (The recipe calls for chunks of venison stew meat, but I thought, with the similarity to a shepherd’s pie, ground would work just fine.)
It is one of the more elaborate recipes in the book, but I didn’t let that deter me. I just made sure I had all of my prep done before I really started.
I started by browning up the venison in a large pot with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Once that was about cooked, I removed the meat from the pan and started cooking down the vegetables: 2 leeks (just the white and light green parts) chopped small, 10 oz of shredded carrots, 6 oz of pearl onions peeled and halved, and a good amount of rosemary. (Salt and pepper, of course!) When the veggies started to take on some color, I added the mushrooms and cooked until the mushrooms softened.
At that point, the liquids went in. First was about a cup and a half of red wine to deglaze. That got cooked down until almost no liquid remained, then the meat went into the pot and enough chicken stock to just cover everything was added.
That had to cook for about 40 minutes, but I had to add some browned potatoes about 20 minutes in, so I started slicing the potatoes and browning them.
While this was cooking and getting all delicious, I got to work on the topping. That started with about a pound of peeled sweet potatoes and about half of a pound of peeled potatoes, all diced into chunks that easily fit into my ricer.
These went into a pot of salted, boiling water for 12 minutes until they were soft. Then, they drained.
They went through my ricer back into the warm pot and in went two egg yolks (the yolk helps ensure browning of the topping), two tablespoons of butter, and some salt and pepper.
By that time, the meat and veggie mixture was ready, so that got transferred to a Pyrex bowl.
Then the sweet potato topping went over top, and I used a fork to create some nice ripples in the topping. I took a MicroPlane and went to town grating some Moliterno cheese over top. [Moliterno is Sheeps milk cheese that’s akin to Fiore di Sardena. Works great with game!]
The pie went into the oven for about 20 minutes at 425°F.
After the 20 minutes, the creation was done!
The pie was delicious. The sweet potatoes in the topping went nicely with the game flavor in the deer. The Moliterno cheese helped cut through the sweetness, and also ensured that there was a nice crust on top. The veggies in the meat mixture were not at all intrusive and all added to flavoring the base. Well, all of the veggies except the potatoes. Those didn’t really add anything to the mixture, and, in the future, I’m leaving that step out. It’s just unnecessary.
But with 2 pounds of venison, some vegetables, and some other simple ingredients, I had 6 servings of a tasty dish, and I ate good for a few days. The leftovers even reheated great in the microwave, but this could easily be prepared in individual ramekins or other bakeware and baked to order.