Real Foodists: Venison Philly Cheesesteaks with a Meat Grinder

by  Michael Pendley

Michael Pendley is Realtree’s Timber 2 Table blogger. He developed equal passions for hunting and food early in life and quickly learned to combine them by incorporating wild game meat into a variety of recipes.

After college at the University of Kentucky, Michael and his wife Cheryl settled in the central Kentucky area where they are raising their three children to love the outdoor lifestyle as much as they do. They process their own game and use it frequently in the family’s meals. Michael’s love for food runs so deep that he nicknamed his youngest son Potroast at birth. Nine years later, the name still sticks. 

Michael freelances for several magazines and websites on the subjects of youth in the outdoors, wild game cooking and barbecue.

I absolutely love a good Philly Cheesesteak. Tender steak, chopped as it cooks on the flat top griddle, then topped with cheese and onion, they are just about my favorite sandwich. Since we eat a lot of venison, I have tried over the years to get that tender, but just a little chewy, texture out of some of the tougher cuts from older deer.

I found the answer by accident. I was running some venison through the coarse plate of my Weston Realtree Grinder for some sausage. The plan was to grind once, season, then grind again through a finer plate. After seasoning, I decided to test fry a small batch to test for flavor. As I sampled the cooked meat, I realized the texture was perfect for a good cheesesteak. We have been making them like that ever since.

Since not many of us have a nice flat top grill in the kitchen, a large cast iron skillet substitutes in a pinch. Keep the heat at medium-high and use a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan. Sauté the venison in batches so that the surface of the meat gets nicely browned, but don’t overcook, a few minutes in a hot pan is plenty.

Serve the cheesesteaks with sautéed onions, sliced cherry peppers, and melted American cheese. Do yourself a favor and go to a bakery for good rolls. The perfect cheesesteak bread needs to have a little chew.

- Ingredients - 

2 pounds venison, coarsely ground
salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow onion, sliced and sautéed
6 good hoagie rolls

Cut the venison into chunks just small enough to fit the meat grinder, then place the venison in the freezer to chill for 30-45 minutes. Run the chilled meat through the coarse plate of your Weston grinder.

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in a tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom of the skillet. Sauté the venison in small batches, evenly browning the meat on all sides. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Cavender’s seasoning. Wipe the skillet and re-oil as necessary until all of the meat is cooked.

Fill the hoagie roll with venison, top with onions and peppers, then lay on a couple slices of American cheese. The heat from the meat and onions should be enough to melt the cheese.

For more from Michael Pendley, follow his blog posts on Realtree's #Timber2Table blog & follow him on Twitter: @mickypen70.

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