Food Week: Venison South of the Border

Salpicon De Venado

Salpicon De Venado. © Fotógrafo Federico Gil para el Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

Before we had domestic livestock, humans on both side of what is now the US/Mexico border hunted and consumed wild game. Venison ranked high on early Mexican menus.

Venison is especially important in a ritual sense as well as a culinary sense.

Karen Hursh Graber is senior Food Editor for the internet magazine Mexico Connect.

The word ‘venison’ in English, and the word ‘venado’ in Spanish – are both from the Latin word ‘venari’, which is the verb ‘hunt.’ So, that’s pretty impressive that the word for deer is the same as the word for hunt. It just shows the symbolic hunting imagery of deer in both cultures.

Mexicans are well known for their ability to create delicious and filling dishes using smaller amounts of prized ingredients, such as venison. Take the dish Salpicon De Venado, for example.

Instead of serving a huge hunk of meat, they’ll serve small pieces, and put it in a taco or in a stew. Salpicon is like a cold meat salad – it’s a venison salad. It’s dressed with herbs and spices and they serve it is tacos.

If eating cold venison doesn’t appeal, you can always eat it warm. Meanwhile, find Karen Hursh Graber’s recipe for Cold Venison Salad at passporttotexas.org.

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For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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Shredded Venison Salad: Salpicon De Venado
by Karen Hursh Graber © 2005

http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/2381-shredded-venison-salad-salpicon-de-venado

This dish is found on restaurant menus throughout Mexico, but particularly in the western part of the country and in the Yucatan, where it is called zic de venado. This recipe is a good buffet dish, to be piled on tostadas or served with warm tortillas and habanero salsa. It makes an attractive presentation served on a bed of mesclun greens. Following are two variations on the traditional recipe, one savory and one sweet-and-hot.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds venison, cooked and shredded (venison is lean and shreds nicely, like flank or skirt steak)
  • juice of 4 bitter (Seville) oranges or use half sweet oranges and half limes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped radishes
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Place the venison in a non-reactive bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients and let them rest for 15 minutes to combine the flavors. Add the mixture to the venison and serve immediately or refrigerate and bring to room temperature at serving time.

Serves 8-10 as part of a multi-course buffet or as an appetizer.

Variation I:

Omit the radishes and add ½ cup chopped green olives and 1 firm-ripe avocado, diced.

Variation II
:

Omit the radishes and add 1 green mango, diced, 1 diced plantain and 2 (or more, to taste) Serrano chiles, seeded and diced.

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