Thursday, March 03, 2016

Venison Kofta with flatbread

I come from a family of hunters.  Hunting has always been an integral part of my life.  I grew up on a pheasant hunting preserve and there was a time during my childhood that I often woke up to the sound of bird shot tinging off of the roof above my bed.

When my husband and I started dating at the tender age of 16, hunting was completely foreign to him.  My father and my brothers slowly started to introduce him to the sport and educate him on all aspects of hunting small and large game.  Eventually they took him on hunting trips and my husband found that he really enjoyed hunting.

Now that our son is growing up, my husband has started to take him along on hunting trips to my parents' farm in Michigan.  This past fall the two of them were each successful and filled the freezer with so much venison that even I had to take a moment.

I grew up eating venison, but we ate it occasionally and in only a couple of tried and true preparations.  There was the swiss steak version, the peppers and onion version, the chili version, and  maybe two others.  I can't say I ever loved venison, but I wasn't opposed to it either.

After looking down into that freezer full of venison, I decided that I would try to challenge myself even more than I have in the past to come up with better ways to prepare it.  I have made many versions of middle eastern style meatballs over the years, and though they are all good, this time I wanted to make them with 100% venison.  No mixing or enhancing it with other meats almost entirely because I have so much ground venison and just a little bit because I did not want to venture out to the grocery store after getting home from work.

Instead of adding breadcrumbs or fats of some sort, in a moment of fleeting genius, I added in bulgur.   It worked and this will now be my go-to method.  Each (of the many!) components came together to make a delicious bite and the sweet and sour muhammara sauce worked really well with the tahini yogurt sauce.  Everyone loved this and requested that I make it again very soon.

Kofta with Yogurt Sauce Pita Sandwich

2 pounds ground venison (beef, lamb, or a combo of meats would work well here)
1/4 cup grated onion
4 cloves garlic, grated
2+ Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
a handful of flat parsley, chopped
1/4 cup dry #1 bulgur (soak in 1/2 cup water)

Use a fork to thoroughly combine all ingredients in a large bowl.   Shape into 36 large-ish meatballs.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24.  Bake in a 400 degree oven until cooked through.  (Depending on size of meatballs it should take 10-15 minutes.)

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove grated garlic (optional)

Combine ingredients together, whisk until smooth.

Muhammara Sauce
1 roasted red pepper, peeled and seeded  (I grill it or broil it until blistered and blackened all over and then place in a paper bag for 10 minutes before peeling.)
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

Blend the red pepper, water, and molasses in a blender until chopped into smallish bits.  Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced and slightly thick.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Mix in chopped parsley.

Grilled Onions
1 large onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot.  Add sliced onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook over medium to medium-low heat until tender and sweet, about 20 minutes.

recipe here

Pocketless Pita Bread
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup warm water (not hot)
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/5-4 cups flour

Combine first 5 ingredients in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  Let set 5 minutes.  Add salt and 3 cups flour.  Mix on medium low speed, scraping down the sides until all of the flour is incorporated.  Add additional flour, a few spoonfuls at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a soft dough.  Knead 4-5 minutes.  Remove dough, form it into a ball, and place in a large greased bowl.   Place in a warm spot (I heat the oven to 200 degrees for a minute or two and shut it off) for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Shape into 8 equal portions.  Roll out into thin flat discs about 7-8 inches in diameter.  Preheat and lightly oil a griddle to medium low heat.  Cook until lightly browned on both sides.  Remove and wrap in a clean dish towel.

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