The smells of hickory smoked pulled pork are memories that last a lifetime. Those of us that have freezers full wild game harvests are faced with a dilemma at some point during the course of the year…we’re out of backstraps, sirloins and top rounds and are left to our own devises to figure out ways to utilize these remaining frozen morsels of potential goodness. The key word in that phrase is ‘potential.” We all have our favorite comfort food and usually can reproduce it with regularity. The trick is transposing those recipes to our much richer, much leaner wild game meats.
To address the richness factor I’ve added ingredients that have acid (red wine). To balance out the acidity I added orange juice and a touch of brown sugar, to level the sweetness. I chose to use a little red chili flakes to balance the heat and sweetness and finally a little rendered bacon to add moisture and a great smoky flavor. The key to developing a successful blend of ingredients is to understand what each represents in the final dish. Once you’ve mastered that your cooking experience (and outcomes) will be jacked up several notches.
Don’t be surprised if you start noticing that those bottom rounds (and other tougher cuts) aren’t the last to leave the confines of your freezer. Plus these wild game comfort foods are perfect for making large batches and refreezing for use at a later time. In fact they taste even better the second time!
2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
I used 4 tbsp of WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub, you can use your favorite rub or black peppercorns
1 cup rendered bacon fat
2 lg onions, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 oranges, zested, peeled and seeds removed, cut into cubes
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 cups good quality cabernet sauvignon wine
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 bay leaves
season with salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
Toasted Buns *
Sliced red onion
Green chilies or pepperocini’s
Rub the meat with the kosher salt, and rub, wrap tight and refrigerate for 2 days. This will slightly cure the meat and helps it retain its internal moisture.
Once the meat has cured for 3, days heat the bacon fat in a large sauté pan and sear the bottom rounds until browned. Place the browned meat into a crock-pot. Sauté the garlic in the same pan until fragrant, then add the onions and red chilies -lightly sauté and then add the wine and oranges. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any residue and bring to a boil. Once boiling pour into the crock-pot with the meat, add the sugar and bay leaves. Cover and set the crock pot to low. Allow the meat to cook for about 5-6 hours, turning occasionally. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the meat. You can check the meat by shredding it with a fork. When the meat can be easily shredded it’s done. Shred all the meat and mix well with the liquid in the pot. Add the ketchup and mustard and taste for salt and pepper. Cover and reheat to a simmer. Mix well before serving. This can now be served on a sandwich, the meat for a main course, stuffing for turnovers or stuffed vegetables, served in tacos, on top of pasta or rice…pretty much the sky’s the limit. Just remember it’s all about balance! Enjoy.
* to add a touch of richness to your buns spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the bun before toasting.