Every year, around this time, my partner starts applying for hunting draws, hoping that he’ll get lucky and score a rare opportunity for the upcoming season. It’s a game, and each year, he gets closer to a coveted draw – for a specific species or a specific region. He pores over maps of the province, speculating the potential in various wildlife management units (WMU) and carefully picks the areas where he’ll apply. Last year, he came home with a small deer.
This presented the opportunity to cook with venison. It’s something I have zero experience cooking, but I welcome the challenge, and because I love all things barbecue, I decided to replace beef brisket with venison roast to make pulled venison. Not only was the species different, but the cut offers a different fat content and different texture.
Slow cookers really do rock my world, and I used mine to make this dish.
The first step, as with all pulled meats, was browning the venison roast on all side, to sear the surface. This adds a lot of depth to the flavour of your pulled meat.
Leaving the juices behind, I added a bit more oil and caramelized some onions. Normally, I would use sweet onions or yellow onions, because they caramelize well, but this time, I only had red onions.
The sauce is easy to make – blended tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, cayenne pepper, and a bit of salt. Mix it all together and pour it over the meat and onions, obviously.
I cooked everything on low for eight-ish hours, or until the meat can be pulled apart with ease.
Using the ol’ two fork trick, I pulled apart the meat into a shredded mess and cooked the mixture for another hour.
The end result was astounding. I couldn’t detect any of the venison’s gamey flavour, but there was a definite difference between pulled venison and pulled brisket or pulled pork, the latter having more fat and a bit more flavour. Venison is lean, so that was expected.
I used a low-grade barbecue sauce, which wasn’t a good idea. Buy some solid barbecue sauce. I recommend Cattle Boyz, because it’s delicious and made in Okotoks, Alberta. I prefer to shop and eat locally.
You can serve this on a bun, or in tacos. The possibilities are endless. I served mine with some roast sweet potatoes and grilled vegetables – pretty standard for our kitchen table.
Do you like game meats? If so, what are your favourite ways to prepare them? Leave a comment below, and let’s exchange a few ideas.
Barbecue Pulled Venison
2 tbsp. olive oil, separated
2-3 lb. venison roast
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 can of diced tomatoes (used the garlic and herb variety)
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1. Heat 1/2 of your olive oil, on medium-high, in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Brown venison roast on all sides, then place into your slow cooker.
2. Add the rest of your oil to the hot pan and cook onions for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Add the caramelized onions to your slow cooker.
3. Blend tomatoes and, in a large bowl, whisk together with Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, cayenne pepper, and salt. Pour mixture over the roast.
4. Cover and set your slow cooker. Cook, on low, for eight to nine hours, or until meat can be pulled apart with ease.
5. Using two forks, pull the cooked roasts apart into pieces. Cook for one more hour.
6. Serve as desired. Noms!