Food Fight Friday: Venison Tenderloin Sandwich vs Venison Shoulder Tacos

I've never made any secret of my love affair with tacos. Put about anything edible in a tortilla (flour, please!), and I'll happily eat it. So, that's where my vote is going this week, but don't let me sway you from Brad Smith's take on a tenderloin sandwich. A lot of folks are trying to eliminate bread from their diets, and Smith squeezes some delicious-looking deer between two slice of Portobello with some onions and peppers. And, if that's not enough, he throws in a side of sauteed catfish. Maybe I'm not so sure of my vote after all.

Brad Smith's Venison Tenderloin Portobello Sandwich

In trying to stick to our Paleo diet as much as we can, bread is no longer an option when making a sandwich or burger. Instead we have to get inventive. In this dish, there are venison tenderloins marinated in Worcestershire sauce and then grilled. Once they are medium rare, they are removed and placed between two large Portobello mushrooms that have first been broiled in the oven. The tenderloins are then covered in steamed onions, green peppers, and red peppers all topped off with a spicy chipotle mayo. The side dish is a pan fried catfish fillet from this summer cooked in olive oil and coated with herbs and Mediterranean spices. That's my dog Remi sticking her head in the photo.

Justin Swope's Venison Shoulder Tacos

The venison for these tacos is inspired by a recipe by John Currence in the December 2009-January 2010 issue of Field & Stream. Although Currence uses the shoulder to stuff tamales, the layers of flavors he recommends in his recipe makes for a great carnitas-style taco stuffing. I made some changes to his recipe by including some more traditional flavorings for tamales. I roasted a whole bone-in shoulder slow and low; it was seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, and onion powder before searing in bacon fat. After 12-plus hours, I deboned the shoulder and shredded it. I continued slow cooking it with garlic, cinnamon, cocoa powder, cumin, lime juice, onion, and other seasonings, and a paste made from dried ancho and New Mexico chilies. The meat remained moist as I added reserved venison broth from the earlier slow cooking of the shoulder. The roasted meat is served on a corn tortilla (my wife Amanda prefers flour ones) with sour cream and topped with lettuce and my fresh garden salsa. Served also with a side of beans and rice and a portion of my homemade pickled jalapeños.

Wild Chef readers have been knocking it out of the park with their submissions recently. Get in on the game by sending in a photo of your fish or game dish to fswildchef@gmail.com.