Venison Shepherd’s Pies

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As those long summer days are starting to dwindle, so too are those fresh summer treats such as pie.  Okay, maybe not what you were thinking, but I love fresh cherry, peach, and strawberry rhubarb pie.  This recipe however is shepherd’s pie.  Now this dish is more of a dead of winter, stick to your ribs meal, but it’s a favorite in my household and was recently requested for a birthday dinner.  It’s also the perfect time to clean out the freezer for the upcoming archery season.                      

This is a very simple recipe, but it does take time, as you are slowly braising a venison roast until it begins to fall apart.  I typically use a neck roast, since the hours of braising in beer allows the meat along the vertebrae to fall off and easily shred.  For this occasion, I  am using two top round roasts from a small doe tied together with butchers twine.  I like to smoke the roast for a couple of hours before beginning the braise, but you can skip this step and simply sear the roast, add some beer to the pot, and put it in the oven or grill

Serving Size: 6 servings

Time to make: 5-6 hours

Special Equipment: pellet smoker, grill, or oven

Also works with: any game roast

Ingredients

Roast

1 large neck or top round roast or 2 small roasts

2-3 cans brown ale such as Cigar City’s Madoro

Tacticalories Assault and Pepper

Walton’s Ultimate Steak and Roast Rub

Oil

Vegetables

1-1/2 cup diced carrots

1 shallot diced

3 cloves garlic diced

1/2 cup venison or beef stock

6 to12 ounces brown ale

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary diced

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme

1 bag frozen peas

Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed Potatoes

6-8 Russet potatoes cut into cubes

1/2 cup of milk

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 stick butter

salt/pepper

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Preparation:

  1. Liberally apply both rubs and drizzle the roast with Avocado or Olive oil and allow it to rest while you start the pellet smoker.  I set the smoker to 225 degrees and used cherry pellets. 
  2. Place the roast on the smoker and let it go until it hits an internal temperature of 140 degrees. 
  3. Once it hits the mark, pull the roast, wrap it in foil and crank the smoker up to 325 degrees.  Place your cast iron pot in the smoker and add 12 to 18 ounces of brown ale. 
  4. Once the beer begins to simmer, add the roast to the pot, place the lid on top and let it cook. 
  5. Check on it every hour or so to make sure there is enough braising liquid and if necessary add more beer.  Once you can easily slide a meat probe into the roast, it is ready to pull which should take 3-4 hours depending on the size of the roast. 
  6. Allow the roast to rest while you start on the vegetables and boil the potatoes.
  7. Add a drizzle of oil to a 12” cast iron skillet and add the diced carrots. 
  8. Cook until they are soft and then add the diced shallots and garlic and cook for a few minutes. 
  9. Add the tomato paste and mix everything together and then add the venison stock and beer.  Allow everything to simmer for 10-15 minutes then thicken by mixing corn starch with some cold water and add it to the dish. 
  10. Dice or shred the venison roast and add it to the skillet.  Once the sauce begins to thicken, add the herbs and peas and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.
  11. After the potatoes are cooked and drained, add the milk, yogurt, butter, and salt/pepper and mash everything together. 
  12. Remove the venison from the heat and let it cool slightly. 
  13. Once the potatoes are mashed and there are no lumps, you can start adding it on top of the venison mixture.  Using a large spoon, add dollops of the mash potatoes to the venison skillet and once all of the potatoes have been added, used a baking spatula to smooth the potatoes over the venison.  Use a fork to create some crosshatches on top and place the skillet back on the smoker at 400 degrees until the top is golden brown. 
  14. Once browned, carefully remove the skillet and let the shepherd’s pie cool before slicing.  Serve with some crusty bread and a glass of brown ale.

John Vile

I live in NE Pennsylvania with my wife and two children. My passions include chasing whitetail deer during archery season, hunting waterfowl on local creeks, rivers, and agricultural fields, freshwater fishing, and assisting my wife with the vegetable garden. I spend almost every available minute on the water and in the woods with my kids and wife, and for us, spending time in the outdoors as a family is a way of life.

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