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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Sharing three favorite cold-weather recipes for your freshly harvested venison

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a three-part series on venison — three recipes for cold weather favorites.

It’s fall, wind and rain are blowing the leaves off the trees, and winter is right around the corner.

Comfort foods are on the menu, and venison is the main ingredient. Here are three cold-weather favorites:

Venison Chili

(Photo b Art Lander Jr.)

Use local or homemade ingredients whenever possible.

The addition of thin spaghetti is a regional preference, served with the spaghetti in the chili, or the chili on top of a mound of spaghetti.


2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 16-ounce cans of Bush’s Best Chili Beans (kidney beans in mild chili sauce)
2 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, or a quart of home canned tomatoes, chopped and drained
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 pounds of ground venison
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium bell pepper or six banana peppers, seeds and stem removed, and chopped
1 package of Bloemer’s Chile Powder (made in Louisville, Ky.)
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chile Pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
About 2 ounces of thin spaghetti, or 1/8 of a 16-ounce box. The spaghetti is 10 inches long, Break a handful into 2 1/2-inch lengths


In a Lodge 6-quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, with lid, saute onions and peppers in olive oil. Add ground venison, then chili powder, chili pepper and cinnamon as venison browns. Add beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add thin spaghetti, with about an hour left of cooking time. Serve bowls of venison chili with saltine or oyster crackers and Louisiana pepper sauce.

Venison Tacos

(Photo from Flikr Commons)

There’s nothing quite like tacos made from ground venison.

Tacos are a fast and easy meal, and cooking the ground venison with the taco seasoning makes the kitchen smell great.

Here’s a recipe for taco seasoning from scratch, which has no additives, preservatives and less sodium than pre-packaged mixes. Makes about 8 teaspoons, enough for one meal:


3 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon coarse (sea) salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


Dice up a small white onion and place in an iron skillet with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add one pound ground venison. Cook until onions are soft and venison is browned. Add taco seasoning and a cup of water. Mix ingredients well and cook down, until liquid evaporates. Serve on taco shells, with shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced peppers (optional), and taco sauce (optional).

Venison Jerky

(Photo from Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources)

Here’s a basic venison jerky recipe. Make the jerky from the deer’s front shoulders, since it’s muscular, stringy meat.

Jerky makes a great snack, and beef jerky is expensive to buy at the store.


2 Pounds Extra Lean Venison
4 Ounces Allegro Original Marinade
2 Ounces Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons of Accent (a meat tenderizer)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 teaspoons of Onion Powder
2 teaspoons of Garlic Pepper
2 teaspoons Dark Brown Sugar
Salt and pepper to taste


Trim all fat, silver-skin (connective tissue) from the meat and slice into strips about 3/8 inch thick. Slice with the grain as much as possible. Slicing across the grain will result in crumbly jerky, rather than strips.

Mix all ingredients in bowl large to contain meat and liquid. Stir until all ingredients are dissolved. Cover and place in refrigerator for two days, turning and/or mixing at least once a day.

Lay marinated strips of venison on metal cooling racks in a sheet pan when cooking in the oven, which is necessary because lot of juice will drip from the meat and make the oven smoke. Cook for about six hours at 170 degrees F in oven.

Another option is cooking on an electric smoker outside, at temperatures about 180 to 200 degrees F.

Use your judgment about crispiness.

Place the finished jerky in zip-lock bags or an airtight plastic storage container.

Venison is tasty and nutritious. Enjoy it now while it’s fresh, during the holidays and in the grip of cold weather.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

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