When I was a kid I thought hunters were just a big bunch of mean a-holes. Since I've grown up my ideas have changed radically. I think its very respectable and extremely healthy to hunt for your own food. Animals foraging for food in natural forests are eating nutritionally dense and varied foods and when we eat them we are eating what they ate. When we eat a cow that grew up eating genetically modified corn feed, we are eating just that. And from a quality of life standpoint, I'd rather be the deer in the forest than a cow on a factory farm. For the record, I think trophy hunters are still total a-holes.
So when Clarina, my bestest friend, told me her dad Joe took down a deer and had a freezer filled with venison, I did what all shameless best friends do and invited myself and my main squeeze over for dinner. Apparently, Joe didn't butcher the legs, so they had two gigantic and unmanageable deer legs in the freezer, plus some chopped meat. What does a 100% Irish chick do with a bunch of chopped meat? Shepherd's Pie of course!Claire ran me through the process. Brown the meat with butter, onions, salt and pepper, onion soup mix and worcestershire sauce and some peas and carrots, put it in a baking dish topped with homemade mashed potatoes and bake it at 350 for a half an hour covered. Then put it under the broiler for the mashed potatoes to brown. Simple and delicious.
We all had our plates in front of us and wanted to dig in, but we were waiting politely for Claire's dad, the man of the house, to give us the go ahead. He looked at everyone and said in his Irish accent, "Go!" It was a race to see who could shovel their shepherd's pie in the fastest. It was so good. The venison had such a great flavor and was very moist. It kind of tasted like lamb to me, which is fantastic. I could have eaten three pieces easily.
For dessert I made a poached pear with creme anglaise and a port wine reduction. It was fancy looking but the pear could have poached a little longer. We had to eat it with a knife and fork. I was of proud the cream sauce because I had to temper the eggs and ran the risk of cooking them, but it turned out right and was tasty. The pear was nice and fresh after a stick to your ribs Irish meal. And Claire promised me when they butcher one of those legs in the freezer, we will have another feast!