Hunting season… I have a love/hate relationship with hunting season. I describe myself as a hypocritical carnivore. Every animal I see has a Disney voice and is capable of singing songs and making clothes out of flowers. Because of that, I just don’t think I could be a hunter. But I am so thankful that some people can! I’m a Texas girl. Hunting is a way of life here. Even my nephew has been hunting since he could sit still long enough. His room is full of trophies and he has some great stories to share. Not to mention the special bonds he has been able to forge with his grandpas. Plus, hunting keeps the population of deer down to that of a small country. I mean, where my parents live, the deer invite themselves to lunch on the perfectly landscaped flowerbeds in the neighborhood…
S0 – that being said – hunting definitely has its benefits. A big one being the delicious dinner options that make their way to my table. No one in my immediate family hunts, but I have a good friend who goes often. He takes his grandson and meets “the guys” on hunting trips on weekends. He never fails to spoil me with the spoils of his trips. His latest treat was dove. Plus he found a couple of packages of venison bacon burger in the freezer that he threw in!
I had never cooked dove before. Bubba swore to me it’s easy. “Just put a slice of jalapeno and some cheese on either half of the breast, wrap the whole thing in bacon and throw it on the grill!”
Have I mentioned that while I use my grill often, I am not a grill master? But I tried. I followed the directions, closed the lid and ran inside for a minute. I returned to flames. Everywhere. Coming out of the lid and sides of the grill. Uhhhh… I opened the lid, and sure enough, the dove was on fire. Oops. I carefully moved them out of the flames and flipped them over to, um, “cook” the other side. At which point the cheese oozed out and dripped into the fire, the bacon came unwrapped and the jalapenos began to char…Just when I had almost given up, I flipped them once again, let them finish cooking and pulled them off of the grill. Believe it or not – they were delicious!!!! Everyone loved them. There was no cheese or jalapeno by the time the tasting happened, but the bacon was crispy and the dove was juicy. Phew!
I then tackled the grill again, this time armed with foil and my blue cheese bacon burgers. Bubba has found a place that will process venison, which is incredibly lean, into ground meat that has a small amount of bacon mixed in. This gives the venison a wonderful, smoky flavor and adds just enough fat to hold together for burgers. I stirred in crumbled blue cheese before forming the patties and grilling them. It went much more smoothly this time. Thanks for asking.
I served this all up with chili roasted fresh corn and jalapeno popper mac ‘n cheese. The dessert was s’mores bread pudding.
Here are the recipes for both the mac ‘n cheese and the dessert. Hope you enjoy these and that you have a hunter in your life that shares the bounty of his play day weekends!
Jalapeno Popper Macaroni & Cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/2 C flour
2 C milk
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
3 C shredded pepper jack cheese
2 C shredded sharp cheddar
2 8oz packages cream cheese
1 C sour cream
1 lb pasta (I used rotini)
4 fresh jalapenos, finely diced
½ C shredded parmesan cheese
1 C bread crumbs
Start with a basic white sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking until it is smooth and thick. Slowly pour in the milk, still stirring over the heat until it starts to thicken.
- Add the 3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese and 1 Cup of the shredded cheddar, salt and pepper and the cream cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Turn off the heat and whisk in the sour cream.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil the pasta. Although I used rotini, of course you can use macaroni too! When it is al dente, drain the pasta and put it back into the saucepan. Add the diced jalapenos and parmesan to the hot pasta and stir well.
- Then pour the warm cheese sauce over all and stir well again to even coat all of the pasta.
- In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheddar.
- When the pasta is completely coated, pour it into a greased 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumb mixture until the top is covered in one layer.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the pasta is bubbly.
S’mores Bread Pudding
1 package of graham crackers
2 C mini marshmallows
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Cup half and half
1 package milk chocolate chips
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package giant marshmallows
- Pour the chocolate chips into a bowl
- In a saucepan, heat the cream, half and half and vanilla until small bubbles start to form at side of pan. (don’t let it boil)
- Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, cut the baguette and graham crackers into ½ inch cubes and put them into a 9×13 baking dish. Add the mini marshmallows and toss it all to distribute everything evenly in the pan.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs and add them to the cooled chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. Slowly pour the chocolate over the bread mixture. Saran the whole thing, pressing down tightly. Let the pudding sit for 30 minutes to an hour to absorb the liquid.
- Uncover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the pudding is firm and mostly set. The center may jiggle a little.
- Let cool.
- Before serving, top with giant marshmallows and put back into the oven under a low broiler to brown the marshmallows on top. Drizzle with chocolate syrup for design if you desire!