Thinking and Actiing Locally: Venison with Cactus in Guajillo Chile Sauce.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I cook. I get frustrated when I don’t have access to avocado leaves to make Oaxacan black beans or Tarbais beans for a French cassoulet or some other exotic ingredient. But what is easy to forget is the bounty I do have and how easy it is to incorporate these ingredients into what I eat daily.

Cactus remains an obsession but what about venison? I know lots of hunters, there are too many deer and the meat is good. Why not explore this meat a little more?

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Joan, who is Our Lady of Operations here at Rancho Gordo, and her brother are both hunters. I’d rather drink muddy water than spend a long, boring day going after animals with a gun but it takes all kinds. I’ll volunteer to cook! Anyway, Joan gave me a venison chop, which I pounded and then seared quickly. It was done in minutes, if not less. I put the venison on top of a previously grilled cactus paddle and then smothered the whole thing in guajillo chile sauce, topped with a small handful of cotija cheese. For good measure, I splashed some of my pineapple vinegar on as well.

This was great and I especially like that it was virtually free with all the ingredients coming from the nearby land. And it’s got me thinking. How many things am I overlooking? Maybe a deer stew with purslane? Cactus salads with miners lettuce? I find the whole concept romantic and so much more appealing than shopping at a traditional grocery store where the meat has a diaper and a plastic body bag.

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