Behold the glory of leftovers! Despite the slightly odd name, Twice-Cooked Venison and Vegetable Hash is a great example of instinctual cooking, and how some of the most delicious things can be the simplest. It also uses two culinary adjectives everyone I know loves: tender and crispy.
Story goes I’d come home after dinnertime from working on a few different videos for the grass fed lamb and goat farm I work with. None of the recipes were ready to eat yet, and I’d totally forgotten to plan out something for dinner.
Boiled and fried meat
Racking my brain for the easiest, quickest thing I could make, I remembered that I’d taken some venison trim from butchering a leg to make stock for one of the videos, and the trim was meaty, meaty enough that it could make a meal. Now, boiled, unseasoned scrap and trim might not sound like the most appetizing thing, but it can be if treated right.
I don’t know of any culture that has a specific name for the process, but it’s definitely a thing, especially in the Middle East. I guarantee you: meat that’s been cooked twice, first by browning and then simmering in liquid, followed by draining and a second browning makes for absolutely delicious, melt-in-your-mouth crispy chunks known as griblets in our house.
The process is as easy as it sounds: brown some chunks of meat (or just boil them if they have an odd shape, like a shank, etc) add stock or water, simmer until spoon-tender, then chill to help hold their shape. After chilling, you drain the meat well, using the stock for another purpose, and fry those spoon-tender pieces golden brown.
Twice-cooked meat is only half the equation here. Vegetable hash is a great meat grinder for all the vegetal odds and ends lying around in the fridge: a couple radishes, a handful of spinach, the bottom of a butternut squash, a couple tired carrots, that handful of cauliflower, three Brussels Sprouts that escaped the bag—you get the idea.
Blanching is key
Veggie hash is super easy, with one catch: you can’t just throw the veggies in the pan raw. All the different vegetables will have different individual cooking times, and you need to level the playing field, which you do by blanching or otherwise par-cooking in some way. Blanching is preferable here as sautéing could lead to greasy veggies, and is how I would instruct my line cooks to prepare things like this, say, for Brunch.
After you blanch the vegetables, you drain them and add to the pan with the fried meat chunks, give them a toss, add some seasonings, and serve in a bowl. I often put a “swoosh” of sauce around the rim of the bowl or in the bottom of a deep bowl as a condiment, mayonnaise-y things like aioli or seasoned sour cream are great.
Twice-Cooked Venison and Vegetable Hash
- 8 oz venison scrap trim, or stew meat, preferably from the neck or shoulder
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 cups meat stock or water in a pinch
- Cooking oil or lard as needed
- 10 oz mixed vegetables preferably in a variety of colors*
- 1 oz sliced green onions
- Fresh torn herbs like basil or mint
- Small handful of chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground cumin or to taste
- 1 small clove garlic mashed to a paste
- Spicy mayonnaise sour cream, aioli, etc,
- Lemon wedges
- Cut the venison roughly into 1 inch cubes, season with salt and pepper and allow to sit overnight in the fridge, uncovered (this step is optional, but helps build flavor).
- Preheat the oven to 275.
- Brown the venison on one side in the oil, then transfer to a small oven-safe soup pot. Pour the oil off from the pan and deglaze with a splash of the stock, scraping up the browned bits.
- Pour the remaining stock and drippings over the venison in the small pot, cover, and cook for 2 hours. Chill the venison to firm it up and help it hold it’s shape.
- Bring a couple quarts of salted water to a boil, then blanch the vegetables individually until aldente to your taste. There is no need to chill the vegetables in water after blanching.
To finish the hash and serve
- Drain the meat from the stock and dry it well, reserving the stock for making soup or another purpose. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large 12 inch skillet. Brown the venison again, then add the vegetables and heat through. Add a glug of oil if the pan threatens to dry out.
- At the end, just before serving, stir in the smashed clove of garlic and the cumin to taste, along with the parsley and scallions if using.
- Make a “swoosh” of some spicy aioli or another condiment in the bottom or side of each pre-warmed serving dish (a bowl is just fine too) spoon in the hash, sprinkle on some of the extra herbs, and serve.