Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cheesy Venison Soft Tacos and Crispy Quesadillas

See this man?  He hunts deer and stuff.

Which means I cook deer and stuff.

And he hunts with a flintlock muzzleloader, but that information isn't really necessary to know for the remainder of this post.

Another piece of information that is completely unnecessary is that the day I made this picture, I laid in the grass in the woods because I was trying to act like a real photographer, and everybody knows that real photographers always lie in the grass to get the best shots.

What I didn't know was that the grass was filled with chiggers.  I found that out the next day.

Just for the record, I'm completely scabbed over.

Now for the recipe.

Deer meat can be kind of dry, so one of my favorite ways to cook it is in a crock pot with some type of gravy or sauce to give it moisture, which is exactly what I do here.  In fact, if you didn't know, you might not be able to tell this from beef.  

This shredded venison meat is a life saver when I don't have time to cook or I'm busy with other projects and I don't want to cook.  (Like when my hubby asks me to photograph him in the deep woods.) These tacos are a little bit different from the ones I posted here.  I usually make a big batch, then fill tortillas with the meat and some cheese, wrap them in deli wrap paper, and put them in the fridge.  Whenever we get hungry, we pop one or six into the microwave and they come out all melted and gooey.  They're packed with protein, very filling, and everybody loves them.  I also use this meat to make cheesy venison quesadillas.  Exact same ingredients, just cooked on a griddle with a little butter for a crispy outside.  They're not very photogenic, but they're delicious, cheap, easy, and convenient.  You could totally dress this meal up with beans and Mexican rice.

Some notes:

-I used Colby jack and regular sharp cheddar cheese, but monterey jack is also delicious.  Any melting cheese you like will probably do nicely.

-Seasonings can be adjusted to taste , of course.

-I usually don't sear my meat in a skillet first, because that just gives me another pan to wash.  It works turns out fine just putting the meat in a crock pot with all the other ingredients.  Less work, less clean up.  But you can sear if you want.  I have nothing against a good caramelization on a piece of meat.  I'm just lazy.

-I usually use the tougher ham or shoulder meat for this, because I like to save the tenderloin and backstrap for other methods of cooking. 

-This would be a good time to sing the praises of these wax paper sheets:

I get them at Sam's Club in bulk and I can't live without them.  I use them for a number of things.

I wrap my soft tacos in them and they go directly to the microwave with no problem.  I wrap sandwiches in them.  They allow the sandwich to breathe and not get soggy, while keeping them fresh.  So much better than those little sandwich baggies.  I cut circles out of them and line my cake pans, then spray with non-stick cooking spray.  I never have a cake to stick, ever.  I keep a box by the microwave and cover food with them for a splatter guard.  I line baking sheets with them when I'm dipping candy in chocolate to place the candy on.  Or, you can line baking sheets with them and baking cookies on them.  The list goes on and on.  They last a really long time, too.  I don't think I buy them more than once a year and I use them all the time.

-I wouldn't be concerned with slightly over-filling your quesadilla.  The cheese and meat that hangs out will get crispy on the griddle and it's delicious.  I like a little over hang.

Shredded Venison Taco Meat

1(15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1 beef bouillon cube
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds venison (ham, roast, shoulder) 

Combine first 8 ingredients in a crock pot, then add venison.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.  When meat is cooked through, remove from pot and set aside until it’s cool enough to touch.  Shred the meat with fingers or two forks, then add back to the juices in the crock pot and stir.  Use a slotted spoon to fill flour tortillas for tacos or quesadillas.

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  1. I grew up eating venison in Indiana, where the deer are so corn-fed they taste almost exactly like lean beef. In the U.P. they had a much stronger taste from an acorn diet, but still really good. And chiggers...I am so sorry. I have experienced that misery.

  2. looks so good, imma go shoot me a deer. Just kidding (about the deer). Flour tortillas are a great way to pull max taste. Hope the bro sends be some meat after the season up north

  3. Lorie, I love the idea of using venison for this! (And glad you're starting to feel a bit better after your "adventure." Now that's dedication to your craft!)


  4. These look wonderful, Lorie. I'm totally craving them now and I just this minute finished lunch. I might need to change up next week's menu to add some soft tacos. YUM.

  5. These were "off the chain" great!