Has this ever happened to you? You make a one pot tender and juicy braised venison roast, (or other big game roast), with potatoes and other earthy root vegetables that is off the hook. The whole family loves it, but you end up with leftovers. The next day, as you poke around the refrigerator for some rib stickin’ grub, the cold leftover venison roast doesn’t look as appealing as it stares at you through a plastic storage container tucked behind the garlic pickles and an expired jug of milk.
It was something like that in my family when I was growing up. We were a meat and potatoes family seeing as how we raised Black Angus cattle, fished Minnesota waters, and hunted whitetail in the Fall; lots of meat, lots of resteessen (leftovers). But my Mother, a jägerin herself, (huntswoman), had an awesome solution: hand ground, centuries-old, German jägerin wildfleicsch hash, (huntswoman wild meat hash). Any day old refrigerator roasts, whether venison or other game, typically became a breakfast skillet dish with the addition of Black Forest spices like caraway, cold boiled potatoes, and onion from the root cellar.
Luckily, Mom is the granddaughter of German immigrant farmers and hunters. In fact, her great grandfather was a gardener for the Kaiser, Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria. From her lineage she inherited a green thumb and a keen sense of food economizing. My brother, sister and I grew up learning it was senseless to waste a perfectly good meal. You know, “think of all those starving children in…”. This moral underpinning of waste not, want not manifested in recipes comprised of homegrown and family harvested delicious fare with many creatively crafted leftover ingredients. And, to a clear understanding that venison was harvested to put in the belly, not hang on the wall. Big antlers were a bonus.
Nowadays the waste not philosophy is evangelized by hunters who celebrate harvests with a nose to toes approach to processing, and by mindful chefs who have joined the food waste reduction movement and are making the Spartan ethic trendy; something that has long been a European concern and way of life.
So, push aside the pickles, make some cheese from the sour milk, recycle the plastic jug, and grab the Tupperware. Here is an everyman Huntswoman Venison Hash recipe inspired by Mom.
¾ -1 lb. leftover venison roast, or cooked stew meat, refrigerated overnight
1 lb. approx. potatoes, cooked and refrigerated overnight
1 medium onion, diced
½ teaspoon caraway
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
Bacon grease, or butter for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings of choice.
STEP ONE: ROAST
In preparation for this recipe, I seasoned and browned a pound of venison stew meat and threw it in with a 5 pound bone in chuck roast I made for Sunday supper. I took out the stew meat after two hours and refrigerated overnight.
For the potato variety, waxy potatoes like Blushing Belles , or yellow new potatoes, are an excellent choice and readily available. Either will deliver firm creamy texture and a mild flavor. More importantly they hold together well when grinding. Blushing Belles where originally bred in Germany by one of the oldest breeding companies in Europe.
STEP TWO: GRIND
Along with the food ingredients, I pre chill the grinder parts in the freezer. Cold grinds easier and helps keep things from sticking. Like anything, grinders run the price and feature gamut. For $30 you can pick up an old-fashioned hand-cranker like my mother used. Or, you can drop a cool five grand for a horse-and-a-half, 240V commercial unit that lets you squeeze out 20 pounds a minute. But how many leftovers do you really have?
For my needs, I use the Chef’s Choice Professional Food Grinder Model 720; a rugged and reliable grinder from a trusted brand, with a powerful D.C. motor that can be a workhorse when needed, but compact enough to fit in the cupboard when not in use.
The Chef’s Choice Professional Food Grinder 720 has the versatility of three stainless-steel grinding plates, a sausage stuffing kit, overload protection, and a three-way control switch for grinding, stuffing, and reverse. Best part? All those advanced engineering features are built into a home-kitchen-sized, heavy-duty unit that retails around $180, and lets me grind hash quickly and easily.
Dump meat, halved potatoes, diced onions and all seasoning and spices into the hopper. Mix by hand to evenly disperse the ingredients.
Gently push all ingredients through the feed tube and into the grinder with a plunger at a low setting. One pass through should be enough.
STEP THREE: FRY
Preheat a skillet over medium high heat. Melt bacon grease and then add a small amount of hash to taste test. If you want more spices, or seasonings adjust before adding more hash to the pan. Toss in some sliced chives, or green onion tops if you like them. Fry until desired consistency. I like a crispy crust on my hash.
STEP FOUR: EAT
Plate up and serve! I serve with poached eggs, avocado, chopped tomato, crumbled bacon and a simple brown gravy I made from the roasting juices from the chuck roast. While eggs and pan gravy are a must for my family, dress up the dish with whatever suits you!