The spicy flavours of Mexican cooking are perfectly suited to game, as Cai Ap Bryn discovers with this juicy pulled venison neck and nachos. Serves five to six.
Delicious venison snack recipe
By now, you may have gathered that most of my recipes tend to be fast food or snack-style dishes and this one is no exception. It is exactly my kind of recipe.
Mexican food is fantastic. It is so flavoursome and spicy in just the right way. As a child growing up, one of my favourite family meals was fajita night — you get variety and you can design your wrap with whatever you like.
We used to have chicken, beef and often prawns, choosing what we wanted to build our own meal. It’s sociable, interactive and a fun way of eating. Now, with these chilli nachos, it is kind of the same, building up layers of flavour, all of which is shared. You can have it as a snack, starter or even a main.
I started messing about with different types of recipes and ways of incorporating game into Mexican food. For these nachos, I decided to try a cheap cut of venison that is full of flavour — the neck. The neck is a tough piece of meat, full of small muscles and connective tissue that breaks down to make the meat extra juicy and moist.
I found a really good way of doing this venison snack recipe was to apply a dry rub to the meat and let it marinate for eight hours before placing it in a Dutch oven pot for cooking. Another method for this would be to use a smoker, but I appreciate not everyone has a smoker, so I opted to do this recipe using a conventional oven.
The neck used here was from a decent fallow buck harvested at the beginning of the season. I am lucky to have permission to manage four farms that are rich with healthy fallow populations.
On each permission, I find the deer behave differently. On one, I find they are transient. I get deer at various times of the year, but it is never consistent. On another, there is an almost resident herd and I recognise individual deer on a regular basis. The latter is far easier to manage, as I can do an accurate deer census. This particular deer was from one of my familiar herds. He was a weaker buck that wouldn’t have been strong in the rut and had poorly formed antlers. He was a good one to take.
When it comes to deerstalking, the easiest part is often taking the shot, as long as you are confident and can stalk into a presentable position. The most difficult part is extraction — taking the deer from the field, gralloching with precision and keeping the carcass free from contamination. Then comes the processing. I like to hang fallow for up to 10 days before butchering. For this venison snack recipe, I take the meat off the bone but you can leave it on.
Pulled Venison Nachos
- 1kg venison neck rub (see below)
- Olive oil
- ½ litre water
- 1 Tsp tomato purée
- Large bag of lightly salted corn chips
- Guacamole (1 avocado, ¼ onion, ½ garlic clove, lime juice, salt and pepper, blitzed in a blender with a little olive oil)
- Salsa (4 large tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, ½ onion, 1 tbsp lime juice, all finely diced, sprinkled with a little salt)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp instant coffee
- 1 beef oxo cube
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground sumac
- ½ tsp garlic granules
- ½ tsp chilli powder (mild or hot, depending on preference)
- ¼ tsp oregano
- ½ tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cocoa powder
- Drizzle olive oil over the venison, then apply the rub.
- Wrap it and set it aside in the fridge for a minimum of eight hours.
- Add a splash of olive oil to a casserole dish and heat until hot. Add the neck and brown on all sides.
- Add the water and tomato purée. Cover the dish and place in the oven at 160°C for two-and-a-half hours. Turn after an hour and 15 minutes. Check and add more water if needed.
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven and, using two forks, pull the meat apart. If the venison is still a little tough, you may wish to return it to the oven for another 30 minutes. When it is ready, lay out the nachos in an oven dish and cover with the pulled venison. Sprinkle over the cheese and place it under the grill until the cheese has melted and the corn chips are catching colour.
- Spread some sour cream over the top, along with jalapeños, guacamole and salsa.