Spiced Venison Steak-Ums

My Healthy Lifestyle Change Efforts have been paying off recently (nope, still not calling it a diet), in the form of both lower scale readings and, this morning, a very sore knee. I’ve cut my mile time down quite a bit in the past two weeks, and in return the legs mutinied and demanded a day off. Without the gym time to factor into my day, I wanted something exceptionally lean for dinner.

Which led me to reach for venison again, but I was craving something other than a burger. We usually have multiple forms of venison in our fridge, so tonight I grabbed a bag of it in Steak-Um form. For those of you not familiar with Steak-Ums (I have absolutely no idea if that is a universally understood term, or if its something colloquial. Like Speedies, which are HUGE in the area of New York state where I grew up – but then I transplanted one state over and people looked at me like I had three heads when I asked where I could get Speedies), it is essentially a loin sliced extremely thin. Think of the slices of beef you’d find on a Philly Cheesesteak. And although I like the taste of venison au naturel, I was in the mood to jazz things up.

As well as attempting to keep my diet a little cleaner these days, I was desperate to get something into J that wasn’t ice cream, which has become his staple for the past week. He’s still very sore and can’t eat anything other than soft foods after getting all four wisdom teeth yanked last Monday, so ice cream is his best friend. I feel like an evil witch if I give him the side eye at his frequent trips to the freezer, because he looks at me with this innocent, pained face and cries “but my TEETH HURT!”

Ok, so, soft, healthy veggies. Whaddowegot? “Power Greens” mix! Which is a pre-bagged mix of spinach, kale, bok choy, arugula, and a few other dark green leafies that you can find pretty much anywhere. The spinach is the predominate flavor, so J eats it willingly. Cook that down and throw in a can of butter beans for more substance, and you’ve got a healthy, filling side dish. Good stuff!

Spiced Steak-Ums

Servings: 4

Prep and cook time: ~15 minutes

What you’ll need:

1/2 pound of venison or beef, thinly sliced

1 egg

4 tablespoons garlic powder

4 tablespoons chili powder

4 teaspoons dried dill

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When working with meat that is this thinly sliced, you don’t want your heat too high, or the meat will burn quickly. If you’re using an electric stove like I am, don’t get your heat above 6, at most.

Whisk an egg in a bowl. On a plate, thoroughly mix together 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons chili powder, and 2 teaspoons dill. Working with one piece of meat at a time, dip the steak-um in the egg to coat, then roll each side of the steak-um in the spice mixture. I reserved half of the spices initially, because as you continue to put the egg-coated steak-ums in the spice mixture, the remaining mixture on the plate will become gummy consistency. You’ll want to add the rest of the spices about halfway through the process so that all of the meat gets an even layer. Same concept applies to that second tablespoon of olive oil – as the meat is cooking, some of the spice will end up coming off and gumming up the bottom of your pan. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil halfway through the cooking process, and even more if you think it is needed. If you don’t keep enough oil in the pan to coat the bottom, your spices will burn almost immediately.

Because they are very thin, the steak-ums will cook very quickly, so you’ll want to keep a sharp eye on them. Especially if you’re working with venison instead of beef – venison is much leaner, so it will dry out and burn much quicker than beef.

Sauteed Greens with Butter Beans

Servings: 2-3

Prep and cook time: ~10 minutes

What you’ll need

2 cups of dark leafy green of your choice (I used a pre-bagged mix, but straight spinach or kale would work great)

1 can of butter beans, aka great northern beans, aka cannellini beans (I don’t know either why they can’t just pick a name), drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Super easy side dish here – put about 1 teaspoon of water in the bottom of a pot or a pan, doesn’t really matter, as long as you can put a lid on it. I used a wok. Put your greens in, put the lid on top, set the heat to the low side of medium (4 on my stove) and let the water steam the veggies until they’re wilted, stirring every couple of minutes. Once the veggies are wilted, throw in the butter beans. Leave the lid off to let the remaining moisture in the bottom of the pan cook off so you don’t have soggy beans – about 3 or 4 minutes. Mix in the black pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Let the spices warm up and cook in the mixture for another 2 or 3 minutes, and you’re ready to serve!

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Mozzarella Curry Venison Burgers

I know what you might be thinking – Mozzarella and Curry and Venison? Weird combo! Which, it is. But its a YUMMY weird combo.

It was just me for dinner tonight, and I was looking for something pretty lean and healthy to balance out our fantastic meal out on the town last night with friends followed by the incredibly gooey chocolate brownie disaster. I had venison burgers planned along with veggie mac and cheese, but J not being home for dinner was an unplanned, last minute thing and I didn’t want to make mac and cheese all for myself. So, I figured venison burgers and a side of steamed broccoli sounded yummy and reasonable to cook for one.

The perk of J not being home for dinner is that I get to use CURRY. I LOVE curry. He doesn’t like it. You see my dilemma. Curry and venison gave me pause, but I figured, hey, I’ll try it. And I’m glad I did because it’s actually quite the delicious combination! The spiciness and slight nuttiness of the curry compliments the game-y taste of the venison, and the more smooth, basic flavor of the mozzarella balances out the meat and the spice and kind of brings them together and makes them get along. But then again, melted mozzarella makes anything amazing.

So here’s how you make Mozzarella Curry Venison Burgers!

Servings: 6

Prep and cook time: ~30 minutes

What you’ll need:

2 pounds ground venison

2 eggs

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs)

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

6 slices of whole milk mozzarella

Put your thawed, ground venison into a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and eggs and mix thoroughly. I usually just use my hands to mix things into raw, ground meat to make sure it is evenly distributed. Mix in the curry powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Spray olive oil or some other type of cooking oil into a pan, put the pan on medium heat, and let the pan heat up for a couple of minutes. Form burger patties out of the ground venison and place them in the pan.

Venison is tricky to work with when its ground. Because venison is very lean, it won’t make a good burger by itself. Regardless of what other ingredients I use, when I make venison burgers I always mix in egg and breadcrumbs – 1 egg and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs per pound of venison. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a pan full of ground venison, because every time you try to move or flip your burger, the patty will fall apart. Also, if you’re pan frying instead of using a grill, always let your pan heat up on medium heat and let the burgers get a good initial sear. This will help keep them together as they continue to cook. But venison also burns easily on high temperature if you don’t watch it, so after you get a good sear on each side of your burger, turn the heat down to low. I have an electric stove, and I start the temperature on 5, then turn it down to 2 after I sear the burger.

So after you get a good sear on each side of your burger, turn down your heat and cover the pan. Make sure you let them cook until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees (any ground meat needs to reach a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees to kill the bacteria that is distributed through the meat during the grinding process). My burgers took about 20-25 minutes to cook. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time, place a slice of mozzarella on each burger and cover the pan again to let the cheese melt. When the cheese is fully melted, serve and enjoy!

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