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Bambi Times 2

It’s Hunting Season Boys!

John Vargo called me, as he usually does when he has something good.  This time it was fresh deer meat.  My friends thought I would be squeamish about eating Deer.  They really are so cute.  Well, that they may be, but they’re also delicious!  He had chopped meat and loin meat, and I now had to get to work.

When I was in “boarding school”, nestled deep, in the mountains of Georgia, there were no other girls from the north.  Being a New Yorker AND Jewish, well let’s just say that the game “make the Yankee look stupid” became a general pastime.  So when Mr. Dean told me the deer meat chili was on the menu, I was quick with one of my witty answers.  Since I have had to pay for sticking my foot in my mouth before, I shoulda been more prepared.  

So, this stuff cooks all day and the place smells great, I can’t wait to dig in, never dreaming even for a moment that there was really deer meat in that pot.  Mr. Dean thought he was going to teach me a lesson, so when the chili was served, he insinuated that I would be unable to handle the heat, I was young and a bit of a wiseass, so I put myself up for whatever he was dishing out.  Have any of you ever bitten directly into a whole jalapeno pepper?  Ok, well I did, that day.  The tears rolled down my cheeks and my tongue was on fire but I wasn’t giving that guy the satisfaction.  Hey, I was from the toughest town in the whole world, I wasn’t going to be humiliated by a redneck and his Bambi chili.  Needless to say, after I drank a gallon of milk, I finished two bowls of the stuff and begged Mr. Dean for the recipe, I was hooked.  Thank goodness he wasn’t a grudge carryin’ man.

Ever since then, I have LOVED Venison, stewed, ground, running through my back yard, whatever.  Let’s try fried!

I always liked the flavor of deer meat but I hadn’t really had it any other way other than chili.  I wanted something different and also a little indulgent.  I was having a bad day and was in need of a little comfort food, Chicken Fried Steak came to mind.  But I didn’t have Beef, I had fresh Venison.  You know how I am, “fresh is ALWAYS best, never let fresh meat/fish get old before you cook it”.  So, I was creative.  Hey, listen, you bread and fry something, how bad could it be?  Well, lemme tell you, it was sooooo good.  There were no leftovers.

Chicken Fried Bambi

Using the long loin meat, I sliced across the grain to produce ½ inch thick slices, which I proceeded to pound the living daylights out of with my baby small skillet.  I wanted flat but not torn.  Some people have actual meat pounders, flat heavy pieces of stainless steel with a handle, they work great.  If not, find something heavy and flat, sprinkle a little water on the meat to be pounded and place a sheet of plastic wrap on top.  Pound away!

A simple egg & milk combo (1 egg to 1Tbs. milk) helped the Panko breadcrumbs stick and good ole Crisco shortening was the perfect fat in which to fry.  My cast iron skillet from Claudia worked like a charm but any large fry pan will do.  Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.  Flip when the edges look golden brown and don’t futz with them while they’re cookin’.  If you need to make them in advance, flip them a little before golden brown and reserve on a rack to drain.  Later, place them in a 420° oven on a foil lined baking sheet for 8 minutes, just before serving.  They will be crispy and good.

I know Panko breadcrumbs sound a little fancy, but if your supermarket has an international section or carries La Choy, they’ll have it or can get it.  Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs are much larger and crispier than traditional breadcrumbs.  They also make re-heating a snap.  However,  if you can’t find them, try mixing up All Purpose flour with a little cornmeal instead.  Serve with mashed potatoes and sliced tomatoes (no, I wasn’t intending to rhyme there).

Ok, one down but not enough.  What to do with the chop meat?   How about looking in the fridge?  Have leftovers, tomatoes, onions and cabbage (my visions of home made coleslaw didn’t turn out like I’d planned).  Aha!, now where is that recipe?????  My Grandfather’s third wife could not cook, no change that, did not cook.  She made only one thing, stuffed cabbage.  It’s the nicest thing I could say about her.  HOWEVER, that stuffed cabbage was the best I’d ever had and my mother made sure to find the recipe after she, um, well, let’s just say flew away on her broomstick into the great beyond.  (Trust me; you’d just have to know her).  It’s mine now.

I used to make this recipe a lot when I lived alone (great for the freezer). Michael won’t eat it and I haven’t had an excuse in a long time to make it.  It’s just too much detail for a one person meal; then again, it is not a lot of work for a multi person meal.  Think impressive family dinner, think holiday.

Witchy Stuffed Cabbage

1 Large Cabbage

½ Tsp. Kosher Salt

1 ½  lbs. Ground Venison

4 Small Cans Tomato Sauce

¼ Cup Basmati Rice, Raw

8 Tbs. Sugar

1 Cup Golden Raisins

6 Tbs. Lemon Juice

1 Egg

½ Cup Water

1 Large Onion, Sliced



Preheat oven to 350°

Remove the hard stem from the bottom of the cabbage with a sharp knife.  Place the cabbage in a large pot of salted, boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes.  Make sure the water is covering the cabbage.  Remove and let cool until cabbage is not too hot to touch.  Separate the larger leaves and roughly chop the rest.  If there are not enough large leaves or some of them rip, you can place leaves on top of each other when wrapping the filling. 

Place the chopped cabbage and ½ Cup of water on the bottom of a large Dutch oven.  This forms a bed for the cabbage rolls to sit on.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the venison, rice, ½ Cup raisins and egg.  Form mixture into balls and place in the bottom center of a cabbage leaf.  Roll leaf around meat mixture and tuck in the sides. Repeat until you have filled the bottom of the pot with cabbage rolls.

In a separate bowl, mix the tomato sauce, onion, other ½ Cup of raisins, sugar, lemon juice, and salt together.  Pour this mixture over the rolls.  Cover and cook, in the oven for
2 ½ - 3 hours. 

Separate the leftovers into dinner sized portions and freeze for up to 3 months.  Reheat in the oven on 350° for 1 hour.


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