Through the year, as I’m cooking up the venison I stocked the freezer with in the fall, it seems the steaks and roasts always disappear first and I’m left with a bunch of one-pound bags of ground venison. And since we can only eat so much chili and spaghetti, I’ve branched out over the years into some other recipes. The two you’ll find below became family favorites, especially when my daughter was younger. She’s college-age now and still requests both of these recipes from time to time.
We’re not talking gourmet food here. This is kid-friendly stuff using some canned or frozen ingredients, and both of these recipes are also convenient for anyone whose days are busy—they can be made ahead of time. One goes in the crockpot all day, and the other is a casserole that you can make the night before and pop in the oven before suppertime.
Slow Cooker Venison Salisbury Steak
Salisbury steak gets a bad rap because so many people associate it with those old-school frozen TV dinners. Yeah, it’s simple and homey, but around here, it’s comfort food. It’s not fancy, but it’s delicious, and kids love it. I recommend buying low-sodium cream of mushroom soup, because between that and the saltine crackers used as a binder, it can get a bit salty. We like this served over thick egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
If your family likes mushrooms, they make a nice addition to this gravy. You can throw in some fresh, sliced mushrooms before cooking or mix in a can or two of mushrooms (drained) at the end.
2 lbs. ground venison
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/4 cup milk
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 package brown gravy mix
Combine the venison, onion soup mix, crushed crackers, egg, and milk. Shape into eight to 10 patties.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the patties on both sides, then place the browned patties into a slow cooker (they’ll overlap, which is fine).
Prepare the brown gravy according its package instructions. Mix in both cans of mushroom soup.
Pour gravy mixture over the patties. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
Tater Tot Taco Casserole
There are a bunch of ways to make the staple tater tot casserole, but this one has a unique twist with southwest flavors. Admittedly, being a casserole, it doesn’t photograph all that well, but I promise it’s delicious.
I use mild enchilada sauce, and this casserole has virtually zero heat to it, but feel free to go hotter if your family prefers it. I recommend red enchilada sauce; green tastes good but looks a little less appetizing in this recipe. I also make my own taco seasoning rather than using a packet; you can prepare the meat for this recipe using any taco meat method you like.
1 lb. ground venison
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 16-oz. bag frozen Mexican-style corn OR 1 11-ounce can of Mexican corn, drained
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
1 lb. (16 oz.) frozen tater tots
1 10-oz. can enchilada sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray 9 x 13 dish with cooking spray.
Brown the venison in a stockpot. Add the onion, garlic, taco seasoning mix, frozen Mexican-style corn, and black beans to the ground venison; cook and stir another 10 minutes. Cool slightly.
Combine the mixture in a large bowl with 2 cups of the cheese and the tater tots; stir to mix.
Pour about one-third of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spoon the tater tot mixture into the baking dish and pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tater tots.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake uncovered until bubbly, about another 20 minutes.